(The Fading Photograph with original McFly Eric Stoltz — thanks for the tip, Videogum)
Yesterday, Back to the Future was in the news when for the first time, some of the footage of original Marty McFly Eric Stoltz was released. Stoltz had been the original lead before Zemeckis had him replaced five weeks into shooting because he sucked so bad creative differences. Another part of the story you probably didn’t know is that when they hired Michael J. Fox, they had to fire the actress who played McFly’s girlfriend — Melora Hardin, aka Jan from The Office — because she was too tall. Hardin talks about it in in this interview (thanks for the tip, Joel):
We heard a rumor that you were originally cast to play Jennifer Parker on Back to the Future. Is that true?
Yeah, I was. It was a real small part in the first one and then a bigger role in the second one that Elisabeth Shue ended up playing. When I got it, it was a two picture deal, so it was going to be both films and Eric Stoltz was originally cast to play McFly, so I was going to play his girlfriend. And then they let Eric Stoltz go and I was too tall for Michael J. Fox. They called me in very regretfully and said that it wasn’t going to work out, which was sad. I was like 17 and, of course, shed some tears over that.
Now that it has become such an iconic movie, do you ever wonder what would it have been like to have been in it?
Sure. I guess it had the potential to kind of change everything for me, but I don’t know. It didn’t really do anything for the girl who played the small part and then was recast.
Especially since she’s “the girl who played the small part.”
(Laughs.) Exactly. So, I don’t know. I don’t think it would have been bad for me, that’s for sure. But who knows how good it would have been.
Hardin’s part went on to be played by Claudia Wells (5’4″ – only an inch and a half shorter than Hardin, according to IMDB), who was in turn replaced by Elisabeth Shue in the two sequels, when Wells had to quit after her mother was diagnosed with cancer. But it was clear that God had had a plan for Hardin when she went on to star 2010’s Knucklehead, about a retarded MMA-fighting church orphan. (more Back to the Future comparison pics below)
I just like to imagine them trying to gently break the news that they had to fire her for being 1.5 inches too tall. “Everyone loves you, babe, like really loves you. You’re great, and don’t ever let anyone tell you different. It’s just that we need someone petite, and you’ve got those long pterodactyl bones. It’s not you, it’s us. We just don’t have a part for someone of your stature. But don’t you worry that lumpy watermelon head of yours, I’m sure you’ll come right back from this and land on those two snowshoes you call feet.”
[comparison pictures via Buzzfeed]