See a List of All the Actors Who Could Have Played Doc Brown

Image from Back the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin with Randal Atamaniuk published by HarperCollins Publishers, copyright 2015.

There’s no shortage of amazing Hollywood lore around "sliding doors" moments in which iconic roles were almost played by someone else, and a recently published casting list from Back to the Future just gave the world a whole new set to obsess over.

In Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History by Michael Klastorin and Randal Atamaniuk (out today), there’s a casting list from the Fenton-Feinberg Casting agency for the role of the “Scientist” a.k.a. Doctor Emmett Brown. It’s dated August 21, 1984, and includes 40-plus possibilities including Jeff Goldblum, John Cleese, John Candy, Danny DeVito, Michael Keaton, Gene Hackman, Steve Martin, Chevy Chase, Eddie Murphy, Randy Quaid, Joe Piscopo, Bill Cosby, Mickey Rourke, Gene Wilder, and, of course, the man who would become Doc Brown, Christopher (“Chris”) Lloyd.

The list functioned as a wide net range of possibilities, and not every actor was seen for the role. In the end, Jeff Goldblum and John Lithgow seem to be the ones who got closest to clinching the role of the eccentric scientist, but it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Lloyd as the beloved Brown.

In the upper right hand corner of the list, there are also handwritten names of would-be Marty McFlys like Eric Stoltz, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and “[John] Kusak” (sic). Stoltz famously landed the role before being replaced by Michael J. Fox mid-shoot.

[h/t Christopher Campbell]

By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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