Rejected ‘Back to the Future’ Actors Made ‘Zoolander 2’ Instead
Back in the Bill Hader/Jay Pharoah days of Saturday Night Live, the show had a running bit about DVD extras that shared failed screen tests for famous movies. It’s a great comic what-if that imagined cinematic possibilities such as Al Pacino as Doc Brown or Eddie Murphy as Marty McFly.
Now the Twitter account All the Right Movies (@ATRightMovies) has uncovered footage of actual failed screen tests for the Michael J. Fox/Christopher Lloyd classic. And no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you. There are multiple cast members of the immortal Zoolander 2 doing their darndest to impress Bob Zemeckis.
Billy Zane, who memorably appeared as “Billy Zane” in the 2016 comedy, tries out here as a particularly menacing Biff. Unlike Thomas Wilson’s thickheaded meatball in the genuine Back to the Future, Zane appears as if he might actually bust George McFly’s metacarpals if he doesn’t hand over some cash.
Then there’s Derek Zoolander himself, Ben Stiller, auditioning for Back to the Future’s lead, Marty McFly. Unfortunately for Stiller, he comes off as more “captain of the wrestling team” than “chronically late high school student whose only friend is a wild-haired old man who fixes up DeLoreans.” At this stage in his career, the sexual tension between Stiller and Lea Thompson might have been too much to bear.
Any kid who starred in a 1980s teen movie and wasn’t named Anthony Michael Hall apparently got to read for Marty. Jon Cryer, in between No Small Affair and Pretty in Pink, makes more sense than Eric Stoltz, the actor originally cast and then canned in favor of Fox. Cryer in an Argyle sweater is pretty convincing as a kid who is terrified at the prospect of making out with his mom.
Less believable is C. Thomas Howell, coming off greaser drama The Outsiders and still looking like Matt Dillon’s slightly less thuggish younger brother. Unlike Cryer, it sort of feels like Howell wouldn’t mind trying out a few romance moves on Thompson.
The failed screen test that could have actually worked? Kyra Sedgwick seems right at home as Marty’s girlfriend, Jennifer. (The Twitter replies seem to agree.) Then again, knowing how little screen time the Jennifer character got, it was just as well that Sedgwick waited for bigger and better opportunities.