May 14, 2021 - 12:15 pm
We interrupt this spring for a startling pronouncement: Lea Thompson turns 60 on May 31.
What would the “Back to the Future” actress, mom and director tell her younger self?
“The funny thing is, when you get a little older, you still feel the same,” she says. “I would tell my younger self that you’re always 12 or 13 in your heart of hearts … even when you look in the mirror and say, ‘Whoa! What is that? Who is that?’
“I always feel like anyone who acts like an adult is just acting,” adds Thompson, who rose to fame with movies including “Some Kind of Wonderful,” the cult classic “Howard the Duck” and the “Future” franchise.
These days, Thompson is branching out with an Audible Original audio series called “A Total Switch Show,” a scripted comedy podcast starring the real-life team of Thompson and daughter Zoey Deutch. The plot revolves around 23-year-old Emma and her 54-year-old mom, Lisa, who have switched bodies.
Unlike other movies with this theme, no amount of lesson learning will switch them back from being a control freak parent and a free spirit.
Thompson leads a far more chill life on her California ranch with her husband, director Howard Deutch. They’re parents of adult children Zoey and Madelyn.
When not acting, Thompson is an accomplished television director who will soon helm a few episodes of “Star Trek: Picard.”
“I’m a total Trekkie,” she says.
Review-Journal: Congratulations on the big birthday.
Lea Thompson: I feel amazing about it. I’ve earned my years and spent them well. I look at turning 60 like, “I’ve made it this far.” It’s good. I don’t go for the tragic “Oh, I’m 60.”
How has life been during the pandemic?
I’m doing OK. Better than OK actually because I’ve been working since last November. It’s been quite a year, which is all I can say. Now that I’m vaccinated, it feels a ton less terrifying. I was driving on the freeway today and thought, “Oh, my God, Los Angeles is back.” The only thing … it was so easy to get everywhere when you had nowhere to go.
Do you make a mean sourdough bread?
I didn’t get into the sourdough, but I made food all the time. I was at our house with my husband and friend and mother-in-law. We were rattling around the house making dinner every night.
Why do an Audible show?
I’ve always been so fascinated with serialized radio. As a kid, I loved this idea of people gathering together at night to listen to a show on the radio. I have friends who have done radio plays and really enjoyed the experience, too. Audible spent a lot of money to make this show as cool as possible. They went all out with an amazing cast and a great writers’ room. Our attention span is about three seconds now or as long as a TikTok. To ask someone to spend time listening to show, it had to be incredibly engrossing and stimulate your mind.
What was it like acting opposite your daughter?
We did it during lockdown but could record together, which was nice. It was so much fun to just get out there and work. It was heaven. This was sent from above since Zoey was my co-star, and my daughter Maggie was one of the writers.
Are you a controlling mom, like is depicted in the show?
I’m not a controlling mom. I don’t even mostly play one in the series because I switch into the ditsy, forlorn daughter. In fact, in real life, Zoey is way more controlling than I am. It was perfect casting because she’s a Type A Scorpio. She’d say that about herself. As for me, I realized a long time ago, I have no control. None!
What film do fans want to mull over with you?
The movies fall away, but what remains is “Back to the Future.” We’re all surprised at the longevity, but not surprised because there are so many layers to that story. It’s a goofy comedy with a time machine and wacky spit takes. But then it gets deeper and deeper. It asks you to imagine that your parents are people. The best part of it is the movie says if you do the right thing at a perfect moment you will change your future life in a very deep and profound way.
All these years later what do you say about “Howard the Duck”?
I met my future husband on that movie. And I’m thrilled that the movie is iconic now. I hear from folks, “I bought that movie for $2.99 and put my kids in front of it now.”
Do you give your daughters advice about showbiz?
I have to be careful. You look for the teachable moments with older kids and let them ask you first. If they don’t ask, they won’t listen. You also want them to make their own mistakes. Basically, I tell them that show business means going through a lot of ups and downs. It’s about getting yourself up, dusting off and then continuing on.
What is your idea of a perfect Sunday?
I live with a lot of animals, so the perfect Sunday is getting up with my husband. The dogs all jump off our bed. We walk outside and say hello to the horses and gather some guilt-free protein from our chickens. Then we’ll go for a walk with the dogs or just sit around with the dogs in the bed. I’ll be on my iPad watching old movies. Later, I’ll cook dinner for my mother-in-law and Howie.