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The Real Reason We Don't Hear From Crispin Glover Anymore

Starting as a teen actor in the early 1980s (one of his first roles was on The Facts of Life), Crispin Hellion Glover (yes, that's his real middle name) became a star in 1985 with his nuanced role as the teenage and adult George McFly in Back to the Future. He's appeared in several major motion pictures over the last 30 years—including The Doors, Alice in Wonderland, Charlie's Angels, Hot Tub Time Machine, and Willard—but hasn't had as high-profile of a career as other actors of his generation, or even some of his Back to the Future cast-mates. Here's why Crispin Glover never quite lit up the marquees.

He's considered difficult to work with

Glover refused to return for the second and third installments of the Back to the Future trilogy. Glover was very uneasy with what he thought was a morally wrong ending, arguing with director Robert Zemeckis that it was "not a good idea for our characters to have a monetary reward." Rather than write out George McFly, filmmakers re-cast the part with Jeffrey Weissman. But according to Glover, how they presented Weissman misled audiences into thinking that Glover was in the film by cloaking Weissman in prosthetics, filming him from a distance, and splicing in unused footage of Glover. Glover sued the makers of Back to the Future and won an undisclosed amount.

He likes making music—very weird music

In 1989, Glover released the album The Big Problem ≠ The Solution. The Solution = Let It Be. Produced by Barnes & Barnes, creators of the 1978 novelty hit "Fish Heads," Glover's record is a collection of original songs, covers, and sound experiments. Among the tracks are versions of "These Boots are Made for Walking" and "The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze," a take on a song written by Charles Manson, and three untitled songs. The album's only single was "Clowny Clown Clown," for which Glover directed the music video. The liner notes implored listeners to call Crispin Glover directly if they discovered what the titular "Big Problem" was.

He spends a lot of time at his castle

Glover visited Prague in September 2001 and loved it so much that he bought a 400-year-old castle there. Glover did some research on the residence, "Zámek Konárovice," and discovered that it was once owned by a count who served as the patron for Bedrich Smetana, the "father of Czech language opera." The property—the chateau and its surrounding 20 acres—requires a lot of upkeep. "It is a lifetime project that will be in continuous flux and repair for hundreds of years from now, as it has been the hundreds of years before I 'owned' it." When he's not there, which is a lot, the home is available for rental on Airbnb.

He's written several books and published them himself

Through his own company, Volcanic Eruptions, Glover has published several very different books. Rat Catching is a reconfiguration of an 1896 British textbook. Glover cut out pictures and text and then re-pasted them together as a form of artistic collage. In 1991, Glover released Oak-Mot. He took an obscure 1868 novel by an Ohio pastor and then pointedly blacked out large swaths of text and added in his own handwritten notes. (Glover calls the book, "a tale of epic proportions involving pride and prejudice.") The title of his third book, published in 1992, summarizes the work itself: Concrete Inspection: A Family Story Where a Mother is Looking for Something and Finds it.

He's spent years on a trilogy of art films

In 2005, Glover wrote, directed, and produced What Is It? The film involves a group of people living with Down syndrome, snails, a man afraid of castration (Glover), and a telepathic doll. Glover has stated that the film is about his "psychological reaction to the corporate restraints" that stifle filmmaking. "Specifically, in that anything that can possibly make an audience uncomfortable is necessarily excised." Glover followed What Is It? with It Is Fine! Everything is Fine! This film stars actor Steven C. Stewart in an "autobiographical, psychosexual, fantastical" telling of Stewart's own story of living with cerebral palsy. The third film in the trilogy, It Is Mine, is yet to be released, but it was filmed at Glover's centuries-old home in the Czech Republic.

He's got a roadshow slideshow

Glover has never widely released his movies in theaters, on home video, or via a streaming service. He instead likes to present them himself as part of a three-part evening of entertainment and exploration. The show consists of the film, a post-film 90-minute Q&A, and a multimedia presentation called Crispin Hellion Glover's Big Slide Show. "I perform a one-hour dramatic narration of eight different profusely illustrated books," as Glover describes it, "as the images from the stories are projected behind me."

He's been typecast

Crispin Glover is a very unique actor. The roles Glover is offered, and the ones he accepts, are almost always playing weirdos. Due to his breakout role in Back to the Future as the creepy teenage nerd turned adult wimp George McFly, Hollywood has had trouble viewing him as anything much beyond that. At the end of the day, Glover doesn't appear in many movies because there aren't many weirdo characters, nor is he much offered the chance to stretch his acting muscles. Of course, there's also the possibility that the opposite might be true: It's Crispin Glover who just isn't interested in Hollywood.