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What The Cast Of Back To The Future Looks Like Today

It's been nearly 35 years since Back to the Future roared into theaters, and Robert Zemeckis' time-traveling adventure comedy remains one of the most influential and popular films to come out of the 1980s. The story of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), a young man who just happens to be friends with the scientist who perfects time travel (Christopher Lloyd), Back to the Future is a fast-paced, endlessly rewatchable journey back to the 1950s. Marty must contend with familiar bullies, make sure his Dad finds the courage to be who he's supposed to be, and get his mom to the dance on time, even though she'd rather be dating him (it's complicated). 

The film's production design, iconic score, and soundtrack featuring Huey Lewis and the News made it a blockbuster when it was released, and near-constant rewatching ever since has made it a modern classic. The most crucial element, though, may have been its instantly recognizable cast. So, in celebration, let's take a look at this stellar assembly of character actors and what they're up to today.

Michael J. Fox - Marty McFly

Michael J. Fox was already an American TV star thanks to the success of the sitcom Family Ties when he famously replaced actor Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly. Back to the Future made him a megastar, and other hits soon followed, including Teen WolfThe Secret of My SuccessCasualties of War, and Doc Hollywood, as well as both Back to the Future sequels. In 1996, he found renewed sitcom success with Spin City, but chose to begin slowing down his career in 1998, when he revealed he'd been diagnosed with young-onset Parkinson's Disease in 1991. In 2000, Fox announced his retirement from acting and founded the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, which is today the largest nonprofit source of funding for Parkinson's drug development in the world. 

In 2012, after a series of guest star appearances, Fox returned to acting more regularly, and launched his short-lived new sitcom The Michael J. Fox Show. Since then he's continued his work as an advocate for Parkinson's research and drug development while appearing in acclaimed roles on The Good WifeCurb Your Enthusiasm, and Designated Survivor

Christopher Lloyd - Dr. Emmett "Doc" Brown

Like Fox, Christopher Lloyd was also a recognizable face to American audiences thanks to his work on a hit sitcom, in his case his role as Reverend Jim Ignatowski on Taxi. His wild white hair, enthusiastic attitude, and frequent freak-outs over scientific conundrums and possibilities as Doc Brown made him a perfect counterpart to Fox's laid back, often puzzled Marty, and their chemistry is the driving force of the film. 

Since Back to the Future, Lloyd has continued to appear frequently in memorable film and television appearances, including The Addams FamilyDennis the MenaceWho Framed Roger RabbitQuicksilver HighwayStacked, and much more. He has also frequently reprised his role as Doc Brown even beyond the two Back to the Future sequels, appearing as the character in the short-lived Back to the Future TV series, voicing the character in Back to the Future: The Game and LEGO Dimensions, and even briefly playing the character in the bizarre Funny or Die spoof Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie. His most recent major role came as the Missionary on the acclaimed Syfy series 12 Monkeys

Lea Thompson - Lorraine Baines McFly

Lea Thompson's star rose quickly in the 1980s with appearances in Jaws 3-D and Red Dawn before her starmaking turn as Lorraine in Back to the Future. In some ways, Thompson's role was the most challenging, as she had to balance comedy with drama and sex appeal unlike any other castmember, and had the added complication of playing two versions of herself in two different timelines. 

Thompson, like most of the other main cast, returned for both Back to the Future sequels and continued to have a prolific career throughout the '80s, '90s, and 2000s. Her other most famous roles include Howard the DuckSome Kind of Wonderful, the TV series Caroline in the City and her most recent acclaimed role as Kathryn Kennish on the hit Freeform series Switched at Birth. In 2006, she made her directorial debut with the TV movie Jane Doe: The Harder They Fall, and has continued directing ever since, including directing her daughters Madelyn and Zoey Deutch in The Year of Spectacular Men in 2017. 

Crispin Glover - George McFly

From his posture to his voice to his unusual laugh, Crispin Glover immediately set himself apart as George McFly, and the strangeness and awkwardness he brought to the role is a memorable offset for everyone else in 1950s Hill Valley. Like everyone else in Back to the Future, the film granted Glover numerous opportunities, but unlike many of his co-stars, he did not return as George McFly for either of the film's sequels. 

Instead, Glover went his own way, and has continued to blaze his own path creatively in the three decades since. In the 1980s and 1990s, he acted in films including At Close Range, River's Edge, David Lynch's Wild at HeartRubin and Ed, and Oliver Stone's The Doors. He also undertook a directing career, releasing What Is It? in 2005 and It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine. in 2007, with an untitled third project on the way. These projects can only be seen on Glover's live tours, which are how he spends much of his time these days. He has also released numerous books through his own company, Volcanic Eruptions. Most recently, he's been seen as Mr. World in the Starz series American Gods

Thomas F. Wilson - Biff Tannen

It's almost impossible to believe that Back to the Future could, after giving us Marty McFly and Doc Brown, spawn yet another iconic character, but in Biff Tannen, the film succeeded. As the bully who haunts and taunts the McFly family across two films (and the ancestor of that same bully in the third), Wilson is brilliantly wicked and hilariously dense at the same time, spouting classic lines and giving legendary looks all the while. 

After playing various generations of Tannens in the Back to the Future trilogy and TV series, Tom Wilson continued a prolific career as an actor for film, TV, and the stage. He appeared in Freaks and GeeksEdHelp Me Help You, and more while lending his voice talents to everything from Buzz Lightyear of Star Command to The New Batman Adventures. In 2012, he published a memoir of his Hollywood experiences titled The Masked Man, and is a prolific trained painter. He was most recently seen as Hank Heywood in the CW DC Comics series Legends of Tomorrow.

James Tolkan - Mr. Strickland

James Tolkan was already a 20-year veteran of screen acting when he was cast as Principal Strickland in Back to the Future, and his intimidating look, voice, and presence made him the perfect force to push back against Marty McFly's rebellious streak and Biff Tannen's bad attitude. He was so convincing as an authority figure in the film, in fact, that he became an '80s icon thanks to this role and another hard-nosed character he played in a classic of the decade: Top Gun

Tolkan also stuck around for both Back to the Future sequels, and continued to act regularly after the film's success. Other major 1980s roles included the TV series Mary and Remington Steele, followed by The Hat Squad and Cobra in the 1990s. Now in his 80s, he continues to act sporadically, and his most recent role was in the acclaimed western film Bone Tomahawk. 

Marc McClure - Dave McFly

One of the hallmarks of Back to the Future is the way Marty's present changes from the beginning of the film to the end, which means that the two actors portraying Marty's siblings, while only in the film briefly, had to significantly alter their characters over the course of the movie. Marc McClure was one of those actors, and he was up for the challenge. McClure had already been acting onscreen for a decade by the time the film was made, and he already had blockbuster experience thanks to his role as Jimmy Olsen in the Superman franchise. 

After Back to the Future, McClure appeared as Jimmy one more time in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, and then appeared in both Back to the Future sequels. Since then, he's continued working regularly in film and TV, with notable roles in Freaky FridayApollo 13, and (in tribute to his time with Superman) an episode of Smallville. 

Wendie Jo Sperber - Linda McFly

Wendie Jo Sperber was the second part of the double act that comprised the McFly siblings, altering her personality and performance between the beginning of Back to the Future and the end. She returned for Back to the Future Part III, and the success of the film led her on to the TV series Women in Prison, Babes, and Hearts Afire, as well as frequent guest star work. 

Sperber's legacy off the screen is arguably more significant than the work she did as an actress. After being diagnosed with cancer in 1997, she became an advocate for support groups. In 2001, she opened weSPARK, a California-based cancer support center dedicated to "enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients, their families and friends." Sperber's efforts attracted the attention of various celebrity friends and patrons, and the founding board of directors for weSPARK included Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis, Tom Hanks, and Cindy Crawford, while the "Founder's Circle" drawn to the organization included Hanks, his wife Rita Wilson, Kate Capshaw, and Steven Spielberg. Sperber died in 2005 at the age of 47.

Claudia Wells - Jennifer Parker

Claudia Wells was already a seasoned TV actress — with roles in Herbie, The Love Bug and Family to her name, among others — when she landed the role of Jennifer in Back to the Future. Like virtually everyone else in the film, the role gained her massive renown, and she went on to star in the TV series Fast Times. When it came time to make the sequel, however, Wells was unable to participate, choosing instead to spend time with her mother, who had just been diagnosed with cancer. She was replaced in the sequels by Elizabeth Shue, though she later reprised the role of Jennifer as a voice actress in Back to the Future: The Game

Due to her mother's health, Wells backed away from acting in 1986, and in 1991 she opened Armani Wells, a Los Angeles re-sell store that specializes in offering designer clothes for men at an affordable price. She is also a founding board member of Kids in the Spotlight, a nonprofit that provides creative outlets for foster children. In 2011, she began taking on acting roles again, and once again played Jennifer Parker in the short film "Back to the 2015 Future."