While hair bands may have dissipated since the 1980s, there are several cinematic productions that have withstood the test of time. Back to the Future is arguably one of the best films to have come out of this period. The quotes and characters still reverberate in pop culture today. I was lucky enough to speak with Tom Wilson, AKA Biff Tannen, while I was at Fan Expo Dallas.
Since the Back to the Future trilogy Tom has attempted to distance himself from the role and branch out to many new areas. He has acted in television shows, such as the cult classic Freaks and Geeks, and has expanded his focus to other arts as well. Tom currently does voice work for several cartoon shows and has his paintings displayed in a Laguna Beach gallery.
Between all of his tough guy roles, it can be very tempting to think that Tom may directly correlate with that type of personality. Tempting, but very wrong. His notable on screen persona doesn’t begin to resemble the type of guy that he really is. He is extremely sociable and friendly. The lines were extremely long but he managed to personalize the experience with each of his fans. During the event Tom made time to briefly talk with me and even volunteered to complete our interview on his own time. He is class act and one of the most entertaining celebrities that I have had a chance to speak with.
Is there a favorite place you try to visit or go when in the Dallas area (or Texas)?
I love eating in Dallas, the barbecue and burgers are always great, and I love the Museum of Art. I have many friends who live in the area, and I visit with them and always have a great time.
One of your first major roles was acting in Back to the Future. What would you change if you could actually steal the Delorean? (in your life and world history)
I would go back to the time that they were inventing the eraseable pen and tell them that it will never work. It’s a pen. No go. Leave the erasing to pencils.
What innovation from the 2nd BTTF movie would you have most liked to see in reality?
In the future there are no cargo shorts.
What is your opinion about a BTTF reboot?
It will never happen. At least, not for a long, long time. The filmmakers have made a serious point of that. The trilogy stands on its own, and will stand forever.
You have played a coach in Freaks and Geeks, The Ranch, and Troll Hunters. Is there a real life teacher or coach that you have modeled your acting after?
No, I haven’t modeled my acting after any teacher. I haven’t modeled anything I’ve ever done after any teacher.
You have used your experiences being bullied as a child to fuel several of your roles. Does it feel strange for many people to associate you with one due to your acting roles?
I only used it to fuel one role, but it’s natural for people to associate me with one gigantic role in an historic movie. If they feel that I am actually that role in real life, then we’re dealing with people who are either delusional or not very bright.
What would be your dream acting role?
The next one.
You have been involved very heavily with the arts. What is your favorite area/subject of focus in your paintings and why?
My paintings are always very personal, and very colorful, but they can’t be easily described in a few sentences, because they do vary in subject, size, and what I’m saying. My recent exhibition did explore the aspects of Pop in which I’ve been both celebrated and eaten by. Pop Fugue is the collection.
Do you have any upcoming projects as an actor or artist?
Too many to list really… A Solo exhibition of paintings at Nickelodeon World Headquarters, voice over work in the show PigGoatBananaCricket, works on TV (“Doubt” and “Training Day”), standup comedy, and more.
What do you enjoy most about attending a Con?
People are always very nice, and they’re having a great time. I try to do my best to give them a fun time and a memorable day that they felt was really worthwhile. And sometimes I get the thrill of meeting someone that I’ve always admired, or hang out with an old buddy. I got to spend time with Mark Hamill in Dallas, and that was great, and had a wonderful conversation with Adam West, which was one of the highlights of my entire career. I’m not kidding; I hung out with Batman...the REAL Batman.
Take a look at his site for more information about Tom Wilson and his artwork. His Pop Fugue collection was released to commemorate the anniversary of the Back to the Future movies and Tom’s other paintings are sure to bring back some childhood memories as well. You can also follow him on twitter (@TomWilsonUSA).