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Questions by: VictoriaRM 
Edited by: Tammy Swagerty (Ducking Viking Queen)

Name: Jeffrey Weissman

Streaming Platform: Netflix/Television/Theater

Unique ID: R1WU22WQ
Photo by: Rachel Balensut
Website URL:


Back to 1885:

The Eden Theory trailer:

Carnival of Wonders:

It is the 30th anniversary of Back to the Future 2, thank you, Jeffrey Weissman, for taking the time to interview for Streaming World. 

At an early age you showed a tenacious appetite for the stage as part of your outgoing, adventurous and caring attitude.

How has this driven you as an actor through your career to make the decisions in choosing films that suit your personality??
I started acting pretty much out of the womb. My personality, I think, is based on my natural celebration of this thing called life. It’s really exciting for me to be alive! I want to know people, places, and adventures! I adore people of all cultures. I grew up hearing stories from my family how I was always ‘on’, even from my high chair.

Growing up in Hollywood, I had the fortune of meeting stars from time to time. At my father’s gaming clubs, or on sets that would pop up on-location shoots, I’d hang out with the actors on the locations, finding out about them, and what it would take to make it as an actor.

I told my parents that I wanted to be an actor, but they discouraged me from it. Knowing that it is a hard vocation to make a living on. But it was in my heart, and I did what I could, mostly silly stuff in class, school productions, and community theater.

I began to see that it takes a lot more than just hamming it up, developing characters, memorizing lines, learning dance, singing, and stage combat. I use my 45 years of acting experience in my teaching and mentoring.

You have worked on movies such as Back to the Future 2 & 3 (George Mcfly), Scarecrow and Mrs. King (Scotty), and American Brothers (Abusive doctor) and many more. How has acting influenced your life? Have you ever had any cross over from acting on a set to real life? What kind of other acting do you perform besides screen acting?
I still work in plays on stage, I appear in environmental productions, film, and television. I have been fortunate and unfortunate. You have to play the game in Hollywood, which is full of variables. How powerful your agent or manager is, added to how talented you are, with being in the right place at the right time, added to who in power places of casting and production know you and trust you. I had the fortune of ‘being discovered’ by Martin Brest, who was the original director on War Games, and he told an agent of my talent, and that I was his favorite for casting as the lead character David in the film. I tested for the role, but it went to someone else. Nonetheless, the agent signed me and I started going on auditions and within a short time, I landed a small role in director George Miller’s segment of Twilight Zone Movie, ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet’ remake. Television and film roles came pretty steadily for a few years until that agent closed shop, and I began having a stark realization that great agents are not that easy to come by. A good agent was instrumental in getting me roles that were not always put out by casting, like the Teddy Conway role in Clint Eastwood’s return to westerns, ‘Pale Rider’.

My new agents in the latter part of the ‘80s were fine people. But I found that up and beyond the call of duty, the aggressive agents that work for you as a manager should is a rare thing. I luckily still would get support roles in majors, and some leads in indies. But the meatier roles were usually in live theater. I also fell into a job that afforded me to work as an actor, and pay the bills for about 13 years at Universal Studios. Playing iconic Hollywood funny men, Stanley Laurel, Charlie Chaplin, and Groucho Marx. While there, I fell into the opportunity to be the photo double (I was told) for the role of George McFly in the sequels of Back to the Future.

I went to meet the assistant directors, who then sent me to casting, sent me to make up department for mold taking to make the fittings for the prosthetics for George’s different age looks.

Photographs by: Ralph Nelson

It's obvious the cult series of the film Back to the Future has crossed many generations of film viewers. How did you obtain the role in Back to the future 2 and 3? (Back to the Future trilogy are my favorite movies of all time)
I got the role because the original actor butted heads with the producers and they couldn’t come to a mutual agreement. I was cast in the eleventh hour before production needed George McFly on set. Because the production had me in heavy prosthetics to resemble the original actor, cut in with close-ups of him, they fooled most of the public to think that there was no change in actor for the role. Of course, the original actor sued and settled out of court to get paid. It’s unfortunate that both the actor and the producers still seem to have an unending battle over who got done wrong more.
For me, the Back to the Future films helped me get my health insurance for that year, which helped cover expenses for my 2nd son’s birth. Michael J Fox’s, Tom Wilson’s, and my son were all born within a few weeks of each other during the production of Back to the Future II.

Was the casting for this role difficult or easy? What kind of challenges did you go through with obtaining the role of George Mcfly?
For many years no one knew my work from Back to the Future, because I have such heavy make up on as George Mcfly's ages 17, 47 & 77. When I came on the project, most of the lines that were George’s in the script were given to Michael J. Fox & Lea Thompson. The role of Seamus, who was to be played by Crispon Glover, went to Michael J. Fox.

In about 2008, the fans began insisting to meet me at cast reunions and fancons. I had my social networks reach their ‘friend’ limits very quickly. I now have a huge following around the world!

We worked very hard on the films. Often four hours in the make up chair before getting in front of the camera, very long days, and of course, in the ‘future’ scenes being hung upside down for many days.

Do you still keep in touch with the rest of the back to the further cast, and considering the trend of creating remakes of older films? If there was a reunion, do you think you would participate in it? Maybe even considering a Back to the Future 4?

Over the past ten years I’ve gotten to do events with Lea Thompson, Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and many of the other players from the film franchise. To be with the adoring fans from around the world, and see their excitement at meeting their heroes. And for me to be able to get the recognition of my hard work on the films is vastly rewarding.

It is like another career being a celeb. It’s separate from being an actor on a character, on a set, or in a play. I enjoy it because I’ve always been a people person. And I am accessible, unlike other celebs that I see at fan cons, who seem to wish they could be anywhere else.

Apart from family and work, What are your hobbies outside of acting? Do you get time to read stories from scripts, and what was the last book that took your eyes across its binder?

Outside of acting, I am very social. I belong to a fraternity of madmen and women called, The Fools Guild, who produce several social events through the year. I often play theme characters with those friends at their parties and events. I love to cook, hike, fish, play tennis, bowl, and most sports, I collect early sound recordings, ephemera, and I am a dj, both on radio and live. I love reading biographies, murder mysteries, fantasy, and historical novels.

I just finished a book on Chaplin’s early going solo as a star in the days with Essanay and the Mutual Studios in 1915 - 1917. I loved reading my late friend Kate Baker’s fantasy series ‘The Company’, a 13 book series about a company headed by nerds in the future that has figured out one-way time travel. And they become the richest beings in the world from their minions stashing aways the greatest treasure in the world through time. Only to be ‘discovered’ by them, and auctioned off to amass their fortunes.

I am currently writing a script for a one-man show based on Mark Twain’s, Dark Side. He was plagued all through his life with tragedies, and near-death experiences. I think it’s a great story to tell that’s been overlooked.

What is the future for Jeffrey in his career, and what other avenues are you looking at to explore with your adventurous personality?
I am in a feature film ‘The Eden Theory’ in post-production, that was written and directed by a young man that I have mentored. And I’m hoping to be appearing at ‘’Back to 1885’ and We’re Going Back’ Back to the Future Fan Celebrations. The first is in September in Sonora and surrounding areas, where they shot most of Back to the Future III. The second in Los Angeles in October. Both are fundraiser events for Michael J Fox Parkinson’s Research Foundation.
I am also in production on a fun film called Carnival of Wonders.

You still have a very active role in training actors with the skills you have learned. What do you find gives you the most fulfillment from that role?
I teach actors, directors, and writers in the San Francisco Bay Area for the Bay Area Professional Actors Studio. In Berkeley, and at the San Francisco Acting Academy.

I am also co-starring in ‘Cat’s Paw’, an environmental awareness play at the Joe Orrach Studio, going up in early November.

I haven’t always been able to ‘choose’ the roles I play. I, like you, need to pay the rent and put food on the table. So I’ve swallowed my pride and worked on projects that maybe not necessarily to my liking. But I do my job, and I move on to the next project hoping it will be what I like. I like good stories. Preferably ones that enlighten, and raise consciousness on the human condition.

I’ve played a chicken, a lobster, a con artist, a clown, a nerd guru, and many roles that I didn’t necessarily choose, but rather went with what the universe offered that had a paycheck. I have been able to turn some of those roles into very memorable entertainments.

I recall considering turning down the part I was offered in Pale Rider because when I read the script I saw all of the bloodsheds that Clint’s ghostlike preacher character sheds in the final moments of that film. Growing up, my Mother always disapproved of violence in films and said that it wasn’t entertainment. I wanted to respect my Mother’s beliefs. I weighed the fact that the bloodshed was part of the parable of the story. It was a story of the little innocents being saved by justice and It was the largest Hollywood credit. I had been offered in my career to that point.

I have been coaching, directing and teaching on and off since the late ‘70s, beginning in high school. I’ve used my 45 years on set with some great acting talent and have used the lessons learned on set, and watching vastly different techniques work for talent. I believe that there isn’t a ‘one size fits all’ technique, that many ‘cult-like’ studios will promote, but rather, I try to find the tools that work for the individual actor, and give the students exposure to the wide range of techniques out there. I also give my realistic perspective of working in the business to my students and protégés that want to take the leap to a Hollywood career.

My work in improvisation began at the Renaissance Faires in the mid-‘70s, and it took a serious turn in the mid-‘80s, working with fellow improvisers out of the Groundlings, Second City, and other groups. I became artistic director of, "The Flying Penguins", that became the main core of the newly formed Los Angeles Theater Sports. Which is now known as Impro Theater, and they are performing outstanding full length improvised shows based on many different genres.

Over the years I performed with dozens of groups, both famous and infamous, and I also teach improv at colleges, various studios, and theaters.

The most rewarding thing for me is to see my students and mentors thrive and work in the industry. Often I see the motivated ones pay off in getting roles and agents quickly with their determination added to the advice I offer.

Over the years I’ve helped several major stars and directors get their footing on their storytelling talents. I always have the hope that they, in turn, will offer me roles in their projects. Because I’ll likely be acting until my dying day!

Do you have any tips for upcoming and inspiring actors that might be struggling to make it? How you further give inspiration to the new potential up and coming talent?

The advice I give to all my students of acting is to do anything else. Especially get a degree in something practical that you can do to make a living wherever you decide to live in this world. If you have acting in your heart, and you must pursue it, because you’re driven too, you must get training. Train in shows from veteran actors that you’re working with. Train at schools known for their training. Don’t stoop to the get famous quick, or in front of a casting director oriented schools…they are scams. They’ll charge you a lot of money (or your parents), and put you in front of casting before you’ve had the tools. Do your work! Learn your instrument and your craft. It is a never-ending, often hard road, that ultimately may be very rewarding. If you’re in for the money or fame, you are misguided. Those are the by-products of very hard focused work.

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