Stunt performers, also described as "stuntmen" or "stunt doubles", appear in films in place of the featured actors during times when the film script requires an action scene. In those instances, the stunt performer is dressed in clothes similar to the main actor, and carries out sequences like falls, jumps, high speed driving and other acts that run the risk of injury. Various techniques are used to make it less obvious that a stunt double is appearing on the screen in place of the regular actor, including filming from a distance, avoiding shots where the stuntman's face can be seen, and displaying the stunt on screen for only a few seconds.

In the Back to the Future trilogy, many of the major characters were portrayed by stunt performers in place of the main actor, when the circumstances required:

Role Actor Stunt double
Marty McFly Michael J. Fox Charlie Croughwell
Dr. Emmett L. Brown Christopher Lloyd R.L. Tolbert
Clara Clayton Mary Steenburgen Jennifer Watson
Jennifer Parker Elisabeth Shue Debbie Evans
Biff Tannen
Buford Tannen
Thomas F. Wilson John-Clay Scott (Part 1 and 2)
Ben Scott (Part 3)
Leslie "Spike" O'Malley Darlene Vogel Cheryl Wheeler

Stunt driver Dick Butler handled the DeLorean, in costume, for three different characters. He can properly be described as the only person to portray both Doc and Marty in the same film:

  • Wearing the yellow radiation suit, he stood in (or sat in) for Marty McFly, fleeing from the Libyans at Twin Pines Mall, and drove the car into the barn in 1955.
  • Clad in a yellow coat, sunglasses, and a white wig, he portrayed Doc Brown pulling into the McFly family's driveway.
  • As shown in the 2009 documentary "Looking Back to the Future", Butler donned a sheepdog mask to portray Einstein. In the film, Einstein was sitting in the driver's seat of a car being driven by remote control.

In addition, some of the stunt performers also appeared as characters in the film rather than in place of someone else, such as Walter Scott (who drove the Jeep that Marty hung on to as he skated through Courthouse Square) and Richard L. Duran and Jeff O'Haco, who were the Libyan terrorists.