Family & Companions
Renowned character actor Christopher Lloyd won over critics and audiences alike with the wide array of quirky, off-beat characters he brought to life on the big and small screens. A former Broadway actor, Lloyd seemed to spring from nowhere to earn a number of Emmys for his role as burnt out ex-hippie Jim Ignatowski on the acclaimed sitcom "Taxi" (ABC, 1978-82; NBC, 1982-83). Of the many times he portrayed mad scientists and inventors with unkempt hair and elastic facial expressions, his biggest legacy was that of bringing to life eccentric garage tinkerer Doc Brown in the blockbuster "Back the Future" film series. Lloyd's physical plasticity supported his penchant for the offbeat, unstable, unpredictable characters he embodied so memorably. In retrospect, it would be impossible to imagine anyone else inhabiting such iconic roles as Uncle Fester in "The Addams Family" film series or and the villainous Judge Doom in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988). Many actors tried their hand at playing "kooky," but Lloyd succeeded by always going beyond the half-mad stereotype to offer an appealing humanity that kept audiences laughing with his characters rather than at them.
Christopher Lloyd was born on Oct. 22, 1938, and raised in Stamford, CT, though he received a boarding school education in Massachusetts. The youngest of six children of a lawyer and a singer, Lloyd became interested in acting when he was young, and was apprenticing in Summer Stock Theater by the time he was a teenager. He moved to New York City with acting on his mind at the age of 20, studying at The Neighborhood Playhouse before toiling in relative obscurity in comedies and off-Broadway dramas for years. He reached Broadway in a 1969 production of "Red, White and Maddox," and in 1973, earned an OBIE and Drama Desk Award for his performance in "Kaspar."
This profile boost led to Lloyd's memorable screen debut as a mental patient in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), that year's Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, in which he often stole scenes from the film's star, Jack Nicholson. Fresh off his "Cuckoo" success, he began to appear in TV guest roles and returned to Broadway in 1977 with a starring role in the musical "Happy End." The following year, he landed the role of a lifetime with 'Reverend Jim' Ignatowski, the legendary drug-addled hippie holdover on the acclaimed sitcom, "Taxi," where he enriched and deepened a character who was initially a stereotypical 1960s burnout. The child-like innocence and generosity of spirit with which he imbued Ignatowski transformed a cartoonish madman into a beloved eccentric, bringing him two Emmy Awards for his efforts.
Lloyd's panache with quirky characters found a home in appropriate films like Mel Brooks' spoof "To Be or Not to Be" (1983) and the cult favorite "The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension" (1984). The same year, he delivered a memorable turn as the treacherous Klingon Captain Kruge in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock" (1984). That pair of sci-fi titles may have inspired Lloyd's casting as an amateur inventor in Robert Zemeckis' time travel comedy "Back to the Future" (1985), where Lloyd further demonstrated his ability to humanize broad, eccentric characters. Lloyd co-starred opposite hot young TV star Michael J. Fox as the high school student's friend and mentor, Dr. Emmett Brown. The ensuing blockbuster spent over 11 weeks at no. 1 and earned over $300 million at the box office. With the widespread success of "Back to the Future," Doc Brown became a signature character, one which Lloyd reprised for a number of spin-off media forms, including an animated series and video game. He re-teamed with Zemeckis for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit" (1988) where he aptly embodied the archetypal cartoon villain Judge Doom - a live-action menace to the team of hapless `toons. The following year, Lloyd took a detour into drama and delivered a nuanced portrait of a pro ball player and unscrupulous gambler in John Sayles' "Eight Men Out" (1988).
In 1989, Lloyd reprised Doc Brown in "Back to the Future Part 2" (1989), which found Doc and Marty McFly traveling to 2012 instead of the 1950s like the first film. The concurrently filmed third installment "Back to the Future Part III" was released the following year, and though audience interest dipped, the Western frontier-themed comedy still brought in over $200 million at the box office. Lloyd's resume of zanies grew with his characterization of Uncle Fester in "The Addams Family" (1991), the big screen adaptation of the 1960s TV series inspired by Charles Addams' macabre comic strips. Its 1993 sequel "Addams Family Values" turned the sweet-natured Fester into an unlikely sex object involved in a romance with Joan Cusack's sultry, scheming nanny. A guest appearance on an episode of the Disney Channel drama series "Road to Avonlea" (1990-96) earned Lloyd a third Emmy, while an outstanding performance as the well-spoken stick-up man of "Twenty Bucks" (1993) earned the actor an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor. He returned to cartoonish villainy as Switchblade Sam in John Hughes' rendering of the comic strip "Dennis the Menace" (1993) and played off-kilter Al the Angel in the remake of "Angels in the Outfield" (1994), reprising the role in "The Wonderful World of Disney" sequel "Angels in the Endzone" (ABC, 1997).
In the short-lived UPN series "Deadly Games" (1995), Lloyd was well-cast as a villain in the convoluted sci-fi concept about video games come to life, and he was likewise a strong addition to the cast of the dark "Things to do in Denver When You're Dead" (1995) where he played an ex-con with a propensity for losing his digits. Lloyd voiced Rasputin in the animated hit "Anastasia" (1995) and stayed close to family fare to play a White Knight in NBC's TV movie of "Alice in Wonderland" (NBC, 1999) and yet another mad scientist in the ludicrous "Baby Geniuses" (1999). Reteaming with Forman decades after "Cuckoo," Lloyd had the unusual opportunity to play himself in "Man on the Moon" (1999) a biopic of "Taxi" co-star Andy Kaufman starring Jim Carrey. That particular film was widely praised by critics but its somber tone and enigmatic subject did not draw in large audiences.
The actor continued to appear regularly in lower-profile films, telepics and as a voiceover artist and commercial pitchman, with some of his more memorable work coming from guest stints on various television series. In 1999, he reteamed with Michael J. Fox for a "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002) two-parter, and he was also a welcome visitor on left-of-center comedies like "Ed" (NBC, 2000-04), "Malcolm in the Middle" (Fox, 2000-06) and "King of the Hill" (Fox, 1997-2009). In April 2002, Lloyd returned to the stage to play Carl Bolton in "Morning's at Seven" by Paul Osborn at Broadway's Lyceum Theater, and the following July, played Malvolio in Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" at New York's Delacorte Theater.
After a three-episode turn on the movie spin-off series "Tremors" (Sci Fi Channel, 2003), Lloyd returned to series TV with the short-lived baseball drama "Clubhouse" (2004) where he played veteran grandfatherly coach, Lou Russo. In his first return to sitcoms since his Emmy-winning "Taxi" stint, Lloyd co-starred as an eccentric book store customer in the Pamela Anderson sitcom, "Stacked" (Fox, 2005-06) until it was unceremoniously cancelled in a year. His dramatic rumbling voice continued to be one of his most valuable assets, so he found steady work voicing animated family features like "The Tale of Despereaux" (2008), "Foodfight" (2008) and "Fly Me to the Moon" (2008).
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Moved to New York at age 20 (date approximate)
Appeared off-Broadway in "Kaspar," winning an OBIE and a Drama Desk Award
Feature film debut playing one of the inmates in Milos Forman's "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" opposite Jack Nicholson
Played Czar Alexander I in the PBS miniseries "The Adams Chronicles"
Acted opposite Meryl Streep in Broadway production of "Happy End"
TV miniseries debut, "The Word" (CBS)
TV movie debut, "Lacy and the Mississippi Queen" (NBC)
"Goin' South" reteamed him with Nicholson and De Vito
Starred as 'Reverend Jim' Ignatowski in the classic TV sitcom "Taxi" (ABC), joined as regular cast member in second season; won two Emmy Awards
Appeared as Phillip Semenka on two-part episode of "Cheers" (NBC)
Played the villain (Jim Ignatowski goes Klingon) in "Star Trek III: The Search for Spock"
Portrayed Professor Plum in "Clue," based on the play inspired by the board game
First collaboration with director Robert Zemeckis and screenwriter Bob Gale, "Back to the Future" as Doc Emmett L. Brown opposite Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly
Teamed with Zemeckis and Gale for the "Go to the Head of the Class" episode of NBC's "Amazing Stories"
Portrayed Judge Doom in Zemeckis' "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"
Reprised Doc Brown in "Back to the Future II"
Returned to the loony bin as self-serious tidiness freak of "The Dream Team"
Returned as Brown for "Back to the Future III"
Played Uncle Fester in "The Addams Family," a featured based on the 1960s ABC series
Provided the voice of Dr. Emmett Brown and appeared in live-action intros and epilogues for the animated series "Back to the Future" (CBS): reprised the character for the Universal Studios' theme park attraction "Back to the Future...The Ride"
Won his third Emmy for guest appearance on Disney's "Avonlea"
Won an Independent Spirit Award for his outstanding supporting portrayal of a well-spoken, purposeful stick-up man in "Twenty Bucks"; Endre Bohem wrote the original screenplay in 1935, and his son Leslie rewrote it and saw it into production
Reprised Uncle Fester for "Addams Family Values"
Portrayed Al the Angel for "Angels in the Outfield"
Landed role as the villainous Sebastian Jackal on UPN's "Deadly Games," executive produced by Leonard Nimoy
Acted in the first interactive film "Mr. Payback"; directed by Bob Gale
Played Pieces, a porno projectionist with leprosy whose toes and other parts are falling off in "Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead"
Executive produced Tiffanie DeBartolo's feature directing debut "Dream for an Insomniac"
Made his CD-ROM game debut in the interactive "Toonstruck," reprising his Judge Doom character from "Who Framed Roger Rabbit"
Reprised Al for "The Wonderful World of Disney" (ABC) presentation of "Angels in the Endzone"
Provided voice of Rasputin for animated feature "Anastasia"
Acted in the off-Broadway revival of "Waiting for Godot"
Starred in Bob Clark's "The Ransom of Red Chief," a "Wonderful World of Disney" remake of the O. Henry story
Appeared as himself in Milos Forman's "Man on the Moon," the biopic of Lloyd's "Taxi" cohort Andy Kaufman
Reteamed with Clark for "Baby Geniuses" opposite Kathleen Turner
Played the White Knight in the NBC movie adaptation of "Alice in Wonderland"
Portrayed Uncle Martin in "My Favorite Martian," the feature version of the 1960s CBS sitcom
Reteamed with Michael J. Fox for the "Back to the Future IV: Judgment Day" episode of the ABC sitcom "Spin City"
Played supporting role in the HBO adaptation of "Wit"
Starred opposite Holland Taylor in a Los Angeles production of Yasmina Reza's play "The Unexpected Man"
Cast in the Fox series "Stacked" opposite Pamela Anderson
Cast in Showtime's "Masters of Horror" anthology series
Voiced the character of Hovis in the animated fantasy film "The Tale of Despereaux"
Acted opposite Elisabeth Shue in the action thriller "Piranha 3D"
Cast as The Wizard of Oz in the Syfy miniseries "The Witches of Oz"
Returned for the thriller sequel "Piranha 3DD"