Catching up with Lea Thompson as 'Back to the Future' celebrates its 25th anniversary
It's possible to look at Lea Thompson and immediately think: "Caroline in the City."
There's also a chance that, for some, her face is most likely to conjure memories of Amanda Jones, the high school hottie that belonged to Hardy Jenns in "Some Kind of Wonderful."
But to most people, Lea Thompson will forever be Lorraine Baines/McFly, the mother of Marty McFly who, without realizing it, totally puts the moves on a time-travel version of her own son in "Back to the Future."
With all the attention on the new DVD/Blu-ray release and the movie's 25th anniversary -- perhaps you caught Thompson this morning, reminiscing with fellow cast and crew members on the "Today" show -- Thompson has been making the promotional rounds. I spoke with her late last week via telephone, while she was taking a break from a movie shoot in Dublin. A few tidbits from our conversation -- as well as a status update on Thompson -- after the jump.
Thompson took a mini-break from acting early in the decade -- she has two daughters and is married to Howard Deutch, who directed her in "Some Kind of Wonderful" -- but her plate is fuller now.
Among the projects she's recently tackled: "The Convincer," an indie crime-drama slated for release next year, in which she stars opposite Billy Crudup, Alan Arkin and Greg Kinnear, and "The Cabin," the Hallmark movie she was shooting in Ireland.
"It's actually set in Scotland, so there are a lot of Scottish accents," she laughed.
Our conversation, though, focused mostly on "Back to the Future," an experience the actress clearly remembers fondly.
"I think I knew what a great part it was, and I just wanted to do it justice," she said.
Some extracts from our chat:
On how -- as she suggests during a documentary on the new "Back to the Future" DVD and Blu-ray release -- her background as a dancer informed her portrayal of Lorraine:
"I think one of the great things about being a dancer is that it's easier to do period characters I did a lot of work on the physicality, to show the aging of Lorraine ... To show the lightness that a girl in [in the '50s] would carry in herself ... And in the old Lorraine, the 87-year-old Lorraine in the second movie, the way I had to move for that -- you can't be slow and old, you have to be hyper and old. I had to find a way to sell that."
On how she prepared for the role:
"I did a lot of work with Crispin Glover. There's an extra they never put in [the DVDs] that they really should have. It's an improv of Crispin and I and we just started talking and he was so funny. It was so great."
"I was always writing her history. Almost like a diary, and what she thought of Marty and would he call her? I also listened to music from the time constantly."
On working with both Michael J. Fox and Glover:
"They were extremely different. Actors can have really different styles, and mine was kind of in between theirs.'
Michael is a great comedian. He had such a grasp of physical comedy and he and [director] Bob Zemeckis had this great shorthand with each other. There are a lot of aspects to the story that are really heavy and deep and sad and profound, and Michael was there to keep the ball up in the air.
The deeper elements fell on Crispin and I, to make that story the underlying story of these people who are sad and kind of wasted. You get to see what they were like when they were young. Michael comes into that and tries to put it back together in a better way. Crispin's style was very intense and dedicated. It's easy to say it was like a method way of working, whatever that means. He lived it, kind of."
On why the "Back to the Future" movies remain popular:
"I think that the story is very profound. It's funny, it’s well-constructed, but the message hidden in it is very strong. For me, that’s what I get from it. That’s the beauty of this movie, it lives on a lot of different levels. There's the bittersweet story that you can change destiny, that you can decide to live a life that’s going to be better -- that you have that power.
Other people will just say it’s a perfectly constructed movie and it's funny and it's exciting. And it’s a story about friendship and family. But that idea of going back in time and changing your parents’ destiny is a powerful one."
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