Hundreds of films are made in Hollywood each year. A number of them win Academy Awards, some are hated by the audience, and some will be remembered forever. And there are many actresses and actors that’s become synonymous with one role they played. And one of the most iconic is “Doc Brown” from Back to the Future, played by Christopher Lloyd.
Still to this day, Lloyd is known as “Doc”. His performance in the Back to the Future trilogy became legendary, but actually, he wasn’t much into becoming a major Hollywood star when the lights went out.
So what happened to Christopher Lloyd? And what does he look like today? This is all you need to know about “Doc”!
Christopher Lloyd was born on October 22nd, 1938 in Stamford, Connecticut. His father was a lawyer, and his mother worked as a singer.
Christopher Lloyd – “Doc Brown”
The youngest of seven children, Lloyd found his passion in acting in his early teenage years. He worked as an apprentice in summer stock, and at age 19, he started taking classes in New York City’s Neighborhood Playhouse School of Theatre. Actor Sanford Meisner was the instructor at the school, and Lloyd became hooked on theatre.
”I had a wonderful teacher,” Christopher Lloyd recalled. “I had really figured out how to use myself technically as an actor. It changed my life forever. [Meisner] was an extraordinary teacher. He made it clear to me how to work as an actor and how to prepare for a role. It was a big turning point for me”
“I’m essentially a method actor,” he told Irish Times. “There was a phrase Meisner used, ‘Acting is acting truthfully, under imaginary circumstances.’”
Lloyd made his stage debut in a production of And They Put Handcuffs on the Flowers, and later, he made is Broadway debut in Red, White and Maddox. However, the show was a failure and didn’t attract a large audience.
He stayed on Broadway and appeared in many productions, including The Seagull and Macbeth. After about 200 stage productions, he went on to try his luck in the film industry.
Worked with Jack Nicholson
Looking for parts and getting auditions can be frustrating. But Christopher Lloyd got a homerun on his first try.
In 1975, he co-starred as the psychiatric patient Max Taber in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, working with Jack Nicholson.
“I did so many interviews and auditions for films and it was just zilch. Nothing I did impressed anybody! I could just feel it. It was always ‘Okay, thank you, Mr. Lloyd.’
“Then out of the blue Cuckoo’s Nest came to cast. A casting director who sent me up for different things over the years sent me up for that and it just clicked. I was blown away, just so excited.”
“Nicholson was an idol of mine going back to Five Easy Pieces, Easy Rider, and The Last Detail,” he added. “It just blew my mind, suddenly to be on a set with his presence, and him there, it was wonderful.”
Following the success in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Lloyd decided to pursue a career in film and television. Therefore, he moved to California.
Christopher Lloyd – ‘Back to the Future’
Lloyd achieved further success playing “Reverend” Jim Ignatowski in the TV series Taxi, working alongside a cast that included Danny DeVito, Tony Danza and the misunderstood and legendary comedian Andy Kaufmann. He won two Primetime Emmy Awards for his performance
But his entire life changed in 1985, as he starred in the now-legendary sci-fi classic Back to the Future.
So how did everything start? Well, writers Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale wanted to do a time-travel story – and now they finally understood how.
From the beginning, it was actually more luck than skill that led to Gale coming up with the idea of Back to the Future.
“What turned the light on for me was coming across my dad’s old high-school yearbook and thinking, ‘Would we have been friends if we’d been at school together?’” he wrote in the Guardian.
“All of us have that revelation when we understand that our parents were young once, too. That’s a big moment. Then there is the message that we all have control over our destinies. I thought we could dramatize those two things.”
Christopher Lloyd got the opportunity to star as the eccentric scientist “Doc Brown.” But in the beginning, he wasn’t quite interested.
Tossed the script
He originally tossed the Back to the Future script into the trash bin when first handed a copy.
“At the same time I was doing a film in Mexico City and I decided I was going to go back to New York and go back to the theatre where my roots were,” Lloyd told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“So when the Back to the Future script came to me I had pretty much made up my mind I was going back to New York and I cast it aside. A friend I was with at the time said that’s not like me, so I thought I’d better take it out of the waste paper basket and have another look.
He added, “And I did and went back to LA and met Robert Zemeckis (Back to the Future director) and that was that.”
From the beginning, writer Bob Gale wanted “Doc” to be a very calm and reserved person. However, once Christopher went in and was talked into doing it, the actor saw things differently.
“But the way I saw it Doc is bubbling over with ideas and excitement and fear that his time machine is going to destroy the space-time continuum and the entire universe is going to collapse,” he explained. “But he’s dynamic.”
Lloyd’s and Michael J. Fox’s performances in Back to the Future became legendary. The film won an Academy Award for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing, as well as receiving three additional nominations.
Legendary performance as “Doc Brown”
Christopher Lloyd became a star all over the world following the film. The sci-fi smash-hit became a cult movie, and games and even action figure dolls were sold.
“I’m an animated [action figure], and yeah, I’m a LEGO. I don’t think I’m immortalized,” he said. “Well, there you are, a hundred years from now somebody will be rummaging around the attic [and say], ‘Oh, look what I got! Doc Brown!’”
He reprised his role as Doc Brown in both Back to the Future Part II (1989) as well as Back to the Future Part III (1990).
So which one was his favorite to make? When doing a Q&A at the online forum Reddit back in 2012, Lloyd said that the third film was his favorite.
“There was horseback riding, which was a lot of fun,” Lloyd wrote. “There was the steam engine, to be on, work on, which is quite an experience. And Doc had a romance!”
Further, he clarified that he “loved” all three films. But Back to the Future Part III will always have a special place in his heart.
“Back to the Future Part II became kind of dark, and Back to the Future Part III opened up, and had a kind of excitement to it that I really enjoyed.”
Vanished from the public eye
When getting this kind of breakthrough, one might think that Christopher Lloyd would be everywhere, doing interviews, talkshows and other media.
However, Lloyd wasn’t interested at all. Instead, he kept a low profile and focused on other things.
“I don’t know. I’m not that talkative. When you get on a talk show, especially if it’s a big one, you’re expected to talk and bring something to the table. I didn’t feel, and I still don’t, very adequate in that area,” he explained.
“Also, I had the notion in my mind that I didn’t want my persona confused between a talk show and my private life and the characters that I do. I wanted to keep that separate.”
Even though Christopher Lloyd doesn’t want to talk about his private life in public, the fact that he’s loved by so many makes him proud.
In 2015, he and Michael J. Fox made an appearance as Marty McFly and Doc at the Jimmy Kimmel show. The audience couldn’t believe it.
“I’ve met people who say those films changed their lives. I’m so proud to have been part of a creative enterprise that had such an effect,” Lloyd told The Guardian.
Friendship with Michael J Fox
Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd became a legendary duo through the Back to the Future films. They also formed a very special friendship bond that stretched through the years.
“He’s just so great to see,” Lloyd told the Hollywood Reporter. “He’s just so warm and smart and has such courage coping with the Parkinson’s.
He added, “He’s indomitable. He’s just great to be around.”
Michael J. Fox was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at 29. In 1998, he decided to go public with it.
Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox have spent a lot of time together over the years. In March of 2020, Lloyd posted a picture of him alongside Fox as they attended a charity event.
Even though it’s been 31 years since the last Back to the Future film was released, Lloyd would still be on board to shoot a 4th film.
“I would love to do Doc again, no question,” he said.
“He’d probably jump on the role”
He’s also confident that his great friend, Michael J. Fox, would want to return as Marty one more time. One thing is certain, replacing him as “Marty” would be impossible.
“I think regardless of the Parkinson’s, he’d probably jump on the role and he’d be great,” Lloyd said. “I can’t see doing another sequel without him, I would certainly want Bob Zemeckis directing it, Bob Gale writing it and the other principals being involved.”
And, of course, there has got to be a DeLorean in the film.
“It was such a perfect choice for the film. It looked so speedy and futuristic,” he explained.
Christopher Lloyd got to live one of his childhood dreams in 1991, starring as Uncle Fester in TheAddams Family, along with its sequel Addams Family Values in 1993. Further, he’s been in more than 100 films all together, doing everything from big Hollywood production to independent films.
Some of Lloyd’s other classic roles include Judge Doom in the hit Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Professor Plum in the comedy Clue.
Christopher Lloyd today
At 82 years of age, Lloyd has no plans on slowing down. Earlier this year, he co-starred in the action film Nobody, alongside Bob Odenkirk.
Now happily married to his 5th wife, it is certain that his second – or maybe first – love in life is acting.
“I don’t really mind as long as I’m working,” he said. “Whether it’s a lead or cameos, or supporting roles, I love to be doing it. I don’t wait around for the ideal role to come my way – I’ll take what’s given.”
In a world of social media and self branding, it’s so nice to see people like Christopher Lloyd. Despite all his success, he’s shown that you should always be yourself and follow your dreams, no matter how big or small they are.
We will always be thankful that we got to see him in Back to the Future and all the other films he made. Hopefully, he will continue working as an actor for many years to come.
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