After the smash success of Back to the Future, Universal was excited to bring the entire cast back but ran into a couple of snafus.
First, Claudia Wells informed the studio that she wouldn’t be appearing in the sequel because she needed to care for her mother, who was sick with cancer. They quickly recast the role of Jennifer with up-and-coming star Elisabeth Shue (fresh off hits The Karate Kid and Cocktail).
The situation surrounding the role of George McFly was much more complicated. Crispin Glover told Howard Stern that he was offered only $125,000 to return, which he claimed was significantly less than what his costars were being paid. In response to this offer, Glover, who didn’t like the script, demanded a million.
So the filmmakers and studio pivoted and hired Jeffrey Weissman to a) mimic Glover, and b) look like him by wearing a mold of Glover's face made for the first film. The sleight of hand worked wonderfully, as most viewers of the sequel had no idea that a new actor was playing George McFly.
One person it didn’t work for, though, was Glover, who sued Universal. Looking back recently, Glover said it was the use of a face mold to make Weissman look like him that crossed the line. “Had they only hired another actor, which is kind of what I thought had happened, that would have been totally legal, and I would have been completely fine with it,” he said.
Universal and Glover settled out of court for $760,000, but the case started an important conversation about celebrities and the ownership of their likeness. In more recent years, the Screen Actors Guild established rules protecting actors in situations like this.