Marty McFly's Original Girlfriend Goes Back to the Future

"Jan Levinson-Gould" from NBC's The Office remembers being cast first as "Jennifer," Marty McFly's girlfriend in Back to the Future.

Fans of Back to the Future know that Michael J. Fox wasn't the first actor cast as "Marty McFly," in the 1985 blockbuster. Actor Eric Stoltz--best known for his stellar performance in Mask, the 1985 Peter Bogdanovich movie--had been cast first.

Eric Stoltz

While Michael J. Fox had always been the first choice for the part of Marty McFly, he had been too busy and already committed to other projects to tackle the role. At the time, Fox was still on the hit NBC TV series, Family Ties. His co-star, actress Meredith Baxter-Birney, was pregnant. In need of a break, the showrunners at Family Ties reduced her character's time in front of the camera. Fox's character, "Alex Keaton," had to pick up the narrative slack. When production on Back to the Future at Universal was set to begin, Fox's contract at NBC would not allow for him to take part in the film. Actor Eric Stoltz was cast as the producer's second choice in the role of Marty McFly.

Why was Eric Stoltz fired from Back to the Future (1985)?

The decision to remove Stoltz as Marty McFly, came several weeks into the shooting of the film. Unable to handle the comedy in the screenplay, the young actor, who approached working in front of the camera from a Method perspective, exhibited little chemistry with actor Christopher Lloyd, who played Emmett 'Doc' Brown. When director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter and co-producer Bob Gale saw in dailies how the actor wasn't quite meshing with their comedic vision, and they approached producer Steven Spielberg about the issue, the decision was made that Eric Stoltz would need to be replaced for Back to the Future.

But, Eric Stoltz wasn't the only one to lose out on an opportunity to be in the film, when re-casting began.

"Jan Levinson-Gould," from NBC's The Office, actress Melora Harden was also a loser. Having been cast first, in the role of " Jennifer," Marty McFly's girlfriend, Harden was supposed to play opposite Eric Stoltz. But, when Michael J. Fox became available when the Family Ties season came to a close, she was also replaced.

Melora Harden spoke about her missed-opportunity on Back to the Future in 2013:

Is it true that you were initially supposed to play Jennifer Parker, Marty McFly's girl, in Back to the Future?

Harden: Well, originally Eric Stoltz was cast as Marty. But, he had been let go after shooting had started. When Michael J. Fox came on to do the movie, and the producers saw how much taller I was than him, I was also let go.

Did getting let go from the movie effect you in any way?

Harden: Of course! At the time, I was only 17-years-old. So, it made me very sad. I cried. The producer, Bob Gale, sent a large boutique of flowers afterward to me, though.

How many scenes did you actually shoot with Eric Stoltz?

Harden: None, actually. I had only been cast a few days prior to his being let go. He had been working on the movie for a while, so all we ever did together was shoot publicity photos together

Best known for her role on The Office, Melora Diane Hardin was born on June 29, 1967, in Houston, Texas. Acting since she's been a teenager, Hardin was in a bevy of memorable films in the 1980s such as Reckless Kelly, Lambada, Soul Man , and Iron Eagle. She's also appeared in dozens of episodes of iconic television during the decade. Appearing on such shows as Quantum Leap, Different Strokes, Little House on the Prairie, The Best Times, Magnum P.I. , Harden is also well-known for her work as Frances "Baby" Kellerman in the short-lived television series based on the hit 1987 movie, Dirty Dancing. In the 1990s and 200s, she had a memorable role in the Disney movie The Rocketeer as well as, a unforgettable cameo as "Christy Sullivan," in the Clint Eastwood movie, Absolute Power. In the last two 20-years, Hardin has played alongside Miley Cyrus in Hannah Montana The Movie, but also been "Trudy Monk," on Monk, "Tammy," on Amazon's Transparent series, and "Jacqueline Carlyle" on The Bold Type.

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