Even for Marty McFly, five years can be a long time.
Actor Michael J. Fox, who played the character in Back to the Future and two of its sequels, says he was particularly proud of that now-famous scene in the original 1985 film where he channelled Chuck Berry to show off his fleet-fingered chops and dance moves for a group of befuddled 1955-era teenagers, who were not quite ready for this new sound.
Five years later, when he had to do it again for the somewhat convoluted sequel, it was a different story.
“My back hurt, my knees hurt, I couldn’t move the same way,” Fox told the audience at the Stampede Corral on Friday night during a Back to the Future reunion at the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. “Getting old sucks.”
Given that the theme of the evening was the timelessness of the original Robert Zemeckis film, it was a suitable tale for Fox to tell. Everyone ages, but Back to the Future will always remain the same.
The actor was joined by castmates Lea Thompson (Lorraine Baines/McFly), Christopher Lloyd (Dr. Emmett Brown), Thomas F. Wilson (Biff Tannen) and James Tolkan (Mr. Stickland) for the event. All were white-hatted at the end of the evening.
While far from sold out, it was Calgary Expo’s first marquee event for 2019. In a rambling, far-reaching conversation, the cast talked about everything from cave paintings, to the gardens of Versailles, to bullying, mean teachers, Wilson’s uncanny foreshadowing of President Donald Trump in Back to the Future II and co-star Crispin Glover’s demented genius as George McFly.
Fox, who took over the role after actor Eric Stoltz was fired from the film, has fond memories of the production, but admits it was a bit of a whirlwind. He came in with only a few days of preparation and was filming the sitcom Family Ties at the same time.
Luckily, he was more or less playing the straight man against a slew of eccentrics: the hyper-active Doc Brown, the sex-starved Lorraine, the boorish Biff and the just-plain-strange George McFly.
“I had to react to all this stuff,” he says. “I didn’t have the burden of having to get reaction for them, I just had to react to what they were doing. They were all so brilliant, it was easy.”
Fox, who was born in Edmonton, said he hadn’t been in Calgary since the Winter Olympics. He compared the timelessness of original Back to the Future to cave paintings and the Gardens of Versailles.
“They would plant these gardens in Europe and they were just these little shrubs,” he says. “They somehow knew that 300 years later when they were all dead, they would look amazing … I think that’s one of the things about this movie. We’ll all be gone and people will still be seeing it.”
The Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo runs until Sunday at Stampede Park.