‘Up yours, Covid!’ Roger Bart on playing ‘Doc’ Emmett Brown
Fire up the DeLorean! The Desperate Housewives actor is playing the time-travelling scientist in the Back to the Future musical – now he can finally sing in Christopher Lloyd’s accent
Great Scott! The DeLorean screeches to a halt, smoke swirling around its tyres, and who should emerge but “Doc” Emmett Brown, with his white scare-cut and goggle-eyed expression. The matinee crowd at Back to the Future: the Musical goes wild. However, this is not Christopher Lloyd, who played Doc in the 1985 time-travel blockbuster, but Roger Bart, known to TV audiences as the creepy pharmacist in Desperate Housewives and as Matt LeBlanc’s agent in the sitcom Episodes.
When I meet the 58-year-old in the Adelphi’s bar, he is no longer wearing Doc Brown’s fright wig, though he sports his own haywire hairdo. Let’s call it the punk dad look. How did he approach playing someone so familiar? “I’m not an impersonator,” he says, “but one of the things Chris has is that particular way of speaking.” He slips momentarily into Lloyd’s hoarse, incredulous tones. “That can set you free, the way any mask or accent does. What made me feel slightly nervous is when Chris said to me, ‘I’m curious how Doc’s gonna sing.’ I thought, ‘Oh God. Me too.’”