MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: Tony Hawk helped to choreograph the skateboarding scenes in Back to the Future.
Last month, I did a Movie Legends Revealed about whether Michael J. Fox really had never actually skateboarded before the filming of Back to the Future.
As you know, skateboarding was featured prominently in the 1985 blockbuster time travel film, with Marty McFly (Fox) riding to school on his skateboard by "towing" himself on cars and trucks...
Later, in a major moment in the past, Marty turns a kid's orange crate scooter into a skateboard and uses it to skate away from some bullies and actually, in a dramatic bit, he actually climbs on to their car (as they try to hit him while he is trying to skateboard away) and then climbs over them and off the back of their car, to where his skateboard drifted to.
It's an iconic scene and after I did that legend, reader Frank W. wrote in to suggest ANOTHER legend that he had heard about that film, that that iconic scene was choreographed, at least in part, by the legendary skateboarder Tony Hawk.
And sure enough, when I just did a quick internet search, I found this right away, "Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk was credited in the moving for helping to choreograph the skateboard scenes."
Hawk was only 17 in 1985 (and 16 when the movie was being filmed)...
But he was already a well regarded skateboarder. Here are a couple of videos of him in action back in that year...
So it's certainly theoretically possible.
However, that's not the cast. Bob Gale hired Per Welinder and Robert Schmelzer as the skateboard choreographers (and presumably one of them would have been the stunt doubles for Eric Stoltz when he was originally the star of the movie). When they re-cast the role with the much-shorter Michael J. Fox, Charlie Croughwell did the tricky skate stunts (like the aforementioned car stunt)...
Tony Hawk was not involved with Back to the Future in any way. It has been reported numerous times that Tony Hawk choreographed the skateboard sequence in Back to the Future. We have no idea where this fantasy got started, but all you have to do is look up Tony Hawk’s date of birth to know it’s impossible. Hawk was born in May 1968, which means he would have been 16 years old (attending Torrey Pines High School in San Diego) when we filmed the skateboard sequence. The skateboard sequence was designed with input from professional skateboarders Per Welinder and Bob Schmelzer, both of whom are credited in the end titles, and who also assisted in teaching skateboard technique to Michael J. Fox, Eric Stoltz and the stunt men. Stunt coordinator Walter Scott and Charlie Croughwell (Michael J Fox’s stunt double) also were involved in working out the sequence, as were (obviously) director Bob Zemeckis and I.
I imagine that solves that!
So, the legend is...
Thanks to Frank for the suggestion and thanks to Bob Gale for the amazingly on-point information!
Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film.
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.