HELENA – If Albert Einstein had lived long enough, he might have invented the flux capacitor — a fact that wasn’t lost on Christopher Lloyd.
The “Back to the Future” actor recalls that Einstein was a key inspiration for “Doc” Brown, the scientist who invented time travel via a souped-up DeLorean in the 1985 film. But another came from looking at an album cover of Philadelphia orchestra conductor Leopold Stokowski, who was shown in front of the cosmos with his arms raised and sporting a great white shock of hair.
“I talked to (director) Bob Zemeckis about it, and he said do it,” Lloyd said. “So I did it.”
Lloyd, now 70, said he’s proud that “Back to the Future” has had a lasting effect on people, and enjoys the children’s movies he’s focused on recently.
The actor, who is in Montana to promote his new film, has been doing voices in animated flicks like “The Tale of Despereaux” and live-action movies aimed at younger audiences, including “Call of the Wild 3D,” which opened in limited release Friday.
He said such movies can really impact children — although it’s easy to miss the serious roles he occasionally played in earlier work like “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” or “Things to Do in Denver When You’re Dead.”
“There is always the yearning, as with many actors — especially actors who are known for doing comic roles — to be a tragedian, you know, get up there and be Hamlet or King Lear,” Lloyd said. “But I like doing these. And it is very gratifying, especially in the ‘Back to the Future’ series, because it seems to have the same attraction to young people as when it first came out.”
Lloyd said he still watches the movie if he catches it while surfing channels.
In “Wild,” Lloyd plays the Montana grandfather of a city girl thrust into rural living, who matures after befriending a stray wolf-dog and training it to run sled races.
He said favorite movie roles include Klingon Commander Kruge in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” and Uncle Fester in “The Addams Family.”
But Lloyd recognizes that he’s likely most remembered for the “Doc” Brown character who repopularized the old expression “Great Scott!”
Lloyd — who speaks softly, slowly and nothing like his dramatic roles — said he never uses the phrase, but instantly recognized it was perfect for Doc.
“It was very appropriate,” Lloyd said. “‘Doc’ Brown would never cuss.”
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