Michael J. Fox became a (short) king of the 80s thanks to getting his big break in sitcom Family Ties, which led to Hollywood movie roles in Teen Wolf, The Secret of My Success and a little-known time travel movie called Back to the Future. But before landing Family Ties, Fox almost went back to his native Canada, because he kept losing roles to Matthew Broderick.
Speaking at an event in 2013, Fox said (via PageSix); “In 1982, I was desperate to have a job in LA. I owed money, and my phone was cut off. I was selling sections of my sectional sofa. I was ready to go back to Canada and pick up nails on my brother’s construction site.”
But his luck changed when, “I went in to read for Family Ties. They [initially] wanted Matthew Broderick. He’d usually go in first for auditions, and you’d hear hands shaking. I was always losing jobs to Matthew Broderick.” Fox’s luck relying on other actors became something of a theme for him. Famously, Eric Stoltz was initially cast as Marty McFly, and they filmed Back to the Future for five weeks with him in the role. It was decided that he wasn’t right for the part, and Fox was cast instead.
Matthew Broderick became popular in 80s movies such as War Games and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off – but he arguably didn’t have as big of an impact as Fox in Back to the Future, which of course spawned two sequels. Eric Stoltz starred in several teen movies which have gone onto become classics – Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Some Kind of Wonderful, and Say Anything – during that decade. So, his career wasn’t too adversely affected by losing out on Back to the Future.
Fox has been reunited with his Doc, Christopher Lloyd, in the last few months. And the inevitable talk of a Back to the Future sequel or reboot has come up – Fox has suggested that a girl should be the star, if there is a reboot. As long as it’s not Matthew Broderick…
If you love some nostalgia as much as us, you might also like our guide to the best 90s movies.