Lea Katherine Thompson was born May 31, 1961, in Rochester, Minnesota. She is the youngest of five children. Her parents are Barbara and Cliff Thompson. Since all her siblings were much older than she, Lea says it seemed like she had more than two parents. The family lived in the Starlight motel, all the kids sharing a room. Things began to look up for the family when Lea's father got a job in Minneapolis, where the family moved.
Lea's parents divorced when she was six, and her mother decided to maintain the family. This wasn't the easiest job considering her mother was alcohol-addicted at the time. When she found the strength to quit drinking, she took a job playing the piano and singing in a bar to support Lea and her siblings. When Lea was seven, her mother remarried. Ever since Lea was little, she loved to dance -- Ballet to be exact. She would practice three to four hours every day. Her first role was a mouse in The Nutcracker. After Lea turned fourteen, she had performed in more than 45 ballets on stages such as The Minnesota Dance Theatre, The Pennsylvania Ballet Company, and The Ballet Repertory. She won scholarships to The American Ballet Theatre and The San Francisco Ballet. At age nineteen, she auditioned for Mikhail Baryshnikov, who later told her that she was "a beautiful dancer... but too stocky." Lea knew her dreams had been crushed. At that point, she decided to turn to acting.
She began working as a waitress, also making 22 Burger King commercials and a few Twix commercials. She was perfect for these parts simply because she was the average girl-down-the-street, from the Midwest. Everyone who knows her can't believe she was and still is so completely different...trying to be independent and fight against the system. In 1982, Lea made some type of a computer game or interactive movie known as Murder, Anyone.
Her first role was in the movie Jaws 3-D (1983) as a water ski bunny, although she couldn't swim or ski, which she still can't! There she met Dennis Quaid, who became her fiancée and acting coach. Her next role was in All the Right Moves (1983) where she acted opposite Tom Cruise. Director Michael Chapman was so disappointed with her performance, that he almost fired her. Between 1983 and 1984, Lea appeared in other "teen" movies such as Red Dawn (1984), The Wild Life (1984), and Going Undercover (aka Going Undercover (1988)), and believes it was lucky that in these movies they were able to use anyone who could walk and talk!
Lea's biggest known accomplishment, and her big break, came from the first Back to the Future (1985). It was the biggest hit of 1985, and Lea was suddenly the most wanted actress. She could have her pick of any role she wanted to take on. She did -- and made the worst choice of her life, Howard the Duck (1986). Although it was a George Lucas production, the critics turned the movie, and Lea, down. Afterwards, director Howard Deutch offered Lea a part in his movie, Some Kind of Wonderful (1987), but she refused. After he urged her to do it, she reconsidered. She won the Young Artist Award for best young actress. During filming, Howard and Lea fell in love, and she called it off with Dennis. She then went on to film The Wizard of Loneliness (1988), which was her first movie as a woman, rather than a youngster. Lea went on to film Back to the Future Part II (1989) and an episode of "Tales from the Crypt" (1989). She then married Howard Deutch. She continued filming Back to the Future Part III (1990), Montana (1990) (TV), and Article 99 (1992). Lea then took a break to stay home with her first born, Madeline.
She jumped back into acting in Dennis the Menace (1993), where she says she just played herself. Then it was on to The Beverly Hillbillies (1993), Stolen Babies (1993) (TV), The Little Rascals (1994), and The Substitute Wife (1994) (TV). In 1994, she had her second child, Zoey. Lea then went into filming The Unspoken Truth (1995) (TV). It was then that she was first given the script of a new NBC sitcom, "Caroline in the City" (1995). It was probably the best decision Lea ever made. She won a People's Choice Award for best actress in a new sitcom. Unfortunately, with all of NBC's problems, "Caroline in the City" (1995) kept being moved to a worse and worse time slot, giving it horrible ratings. The show ended after only four seasons. Bad ideas from the creators (Julia, etc.) didn't help either.
Lea quickly went onto The Right to Remain Silent (1996) (TV), The Unknown Cyclist (1998), and "A Will of Their Own" (1998). She also guest-starred in "Friends" (1994) in The One with the Baby on the Bus as Caroline Duffy, and on "The Larry Sanders Show" (1992). Lea also did some stage work, including starring as Sally Bowles in Cabaret. The show toured and also appeared on Broadway. She then did The Vagina Monologues in L.A. She had a stint in a dramatic role as a Chief Deputy Assistant District Attorney, Camille Paris, on "For the People" (2002). It lasted less than a year. She will soon be seen in two new movies, Stealing Christmas (2003) (TV)and Haunted Lighthouse (2003).
|Howard Deutch||(1989 - present) 2 children|
Attended Marshall-University High School (Minneapolis).
Claims she was one of the few ballerinas at the American Ballet Theatre that didn't have an eating disorder.
Wanted nothing more when she was at the American Ballet Theatre than to dance with the star dancer, Mikhail Baryshnikov. She was heartbroken when he remarked that she was "a beautiful dancer, but too stocky." Shortly after, she left the company.
Won scholarships to the School of American Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre.
Danced in more than 45 ballets with the ABT.
Her brother, Andrew Thompson, was also a modern ballet dancer with the Colorado Ballet. They both took ballet classes throughout their youth, and he helped her pay for her classes later on in life.
Her character's name in Back to the Future (1985) underwent numerous changes when the script was being written. In an early draft, her character was called Mary Ellen, and in later drafts, she was called Eileen before it finally became Lorraine.
Younger sister of Coleen Goodrich, Andrew Thompson and Shannon Thompson Katona.
Sister-in-law of Phillip Goodrich.
Aunt of Elizabeth Goodrich.
Her husband's uncle is actor Robert Walden.
Daughter-in-law of Murray Deutch.
(2012, on J. Edgar) That was just really great. Y'know, when Clint Eastwood asks you to come and play, even if it's one scene, you go. He says, "Jump," you say, "How high?" And I was so curious to see how he works. I thought she was a really interesting character. After kind of researching her, I really wanted to see a whole movie on her. She was a real strange cat. She was a witness for the House Un-American Activities Committee, and she decided what line in what movie was a communist plot. I mean, imagine! Kind of kooky. So she and her politics were, like, really whacked. She was one of J. Edgar's beards. She kind of ended up being his girlfriend. It's not really in the movie, but she and another actress were kind of his girlfriends. So she was also an actress, a stage mom, a writer... I really wanted to know more about her after doing my research. But it was super fun to work with Leonardo [DiCaprio] and Armie Hammer, really fun to do a scene with them, and working in that environment with Clint Eastwood. He runs a set like nobody else I've ever been around. It's very quiet, it's very respectful, but it's very tense in a way, because you only get one take or maybe two. It's very church-like, which puts more pressure on the actors, because it's so quiet and focused. As a director and as an actor, I just really appreciated having that experience in my career, where I got to see how he works. I thought the perspective of the movie was so interesting, and it was brave of Clint Eastwood to make that movie, so I was happy to be part of it.
(2012, on Some Kind Of Wonderful) I never would've done it if it hadn't been for Howard The Duck. I'd actually turned it down. And then when Howard The Duck was such a bomb, that weekend, Eric Stoltz came and said, "Howard Deutch wants to offer you this movie again." I'd already turned it down, and I was like, "I'd better take it." I just kept hearing this voice going, "Get back on the horse!" I was so devastated. So I said, "Yes," and, of course, that affected my life a lot, because I met my husband, who I'm still married to, and we have two incredible daughters. People love love love that movie. I think probably once or twice a day someone comes up to me... You know, if I'm not just sitting in my house. If I'm actually out among other people, someone comes up to me and tells me how much that movie affected them, how much they loved that movie, or that it's their favorite movie, which is really quite extraordinary, because the movie was not a hit. But it's had this incredible life. The opening of Some Kind Of Wonderful is just so exquisite. The way my husband put together that whole montage that sets up the whole story, it's just so beautifully done. The music, the costumes, the story, they're all still really powerful, which is odd for a movie that's 25 years old. They don't make those movies anymore. I'm amazed at how many people love it. I'm also amazed at how many men really like it.
(2012) Howard the Duck! That's a really interesting movie. I appreciate my career, because I've had a lot of very interesting ups and downs, and most people... That movie is such a famous flop. In a land of a lot of flops, it's kind of awesome to be in a really famous flop. I mean, it's kind of a poster child for flops. A lot of iconoclasts really love that movie. They love to love something that everyone hates. And those are my kind of folks. I'm happy to be part of that club of people who don't want to be told what's horrible and just want to enjoy it anyway. Howard The Duck has a lot of fans, and usually when they come up to me, I just think they're the coolest. Because it takes a lot of strength, a lot of perseverance to love Howard the Duck. That was a really long shoot-it took six months to shoot-and it was a really, really hard part to get. It was a gigantic movie. George Lucas was producing, it had a very big budget, and everybody wanted that part. And everybody wanted the part of the duck! Everybody wanted to voice the duck. The people that they had coming were like, Robin Williams, Jay Leno... all these people wanted to be the voice of the duck, and they were turned down. So it was a really big deal. And it was really fun for me, because, y'know, I got to be a rock star. Everybody wants to be a rock star, right? So I got to sing and wear really crazy hair. It's unfortunate that it was such a bomb. But whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger.
(2012) Caroline In The City was such an interesting thing, because I'd never been on the set of a sitcom or even auditioned for a sitcom when they gave me that part. And I'd just had my second daughter. In fact, she was actually breast-feeding during network notes, which in a lot of eras probably would've been a cause for firing. But anyway, it really was a terrifying experience. I remember I went to see another show taping, because I was like, "I have to at least see what it's like before I have to do it," but after I did that, I said, "I can't do this! This is too scary!" The whole experience of doing a sitcom is... Telling jokes with such precision is really exciting, but it's also terrifying. It was a great job, though. I wish it would have gone on for a few more years. The character of Caroline... I kept saying to the writers, "She's got everything. She's young, she's got a great job, she's got this giant apartment in New York. How are you supposed to care about her?" So it made it interesting to try and make people want to be involved in her life. And to like her, because she kind of had everything except for a man, and I was like, "C'mon, guys, can't you come up with something else besides that?" But it still had a lot of fans, we got good ratings, and I'm really proud of it when I watch it now. I'm always amazed at how funny it was. And I'm still really good friends with all of the actors, which is not all that usual. Usually, you don't really end up lifelong buddies with your co-stars.
(2012, on Jaws 3-D) Well, that was my very first part, the very first movie I ever got, but I lied and said I had done a couple of other movies, so when I showed up, I really knew absolutely nothing. Also, I had said that I knew how to water-ski. And I did not. So I had, like, five days to learn really, really complicated water-skiing things, because I had to fit into the Sea World water-skiing show. I don't even know how to swim! So that was an interesting event. I wiped out a lot. But I pulled it off, I think, because I was a ballet dancer. The acting... was not so good. But I looked pretty good in my bikini, so I think that made up for it.
(2012, on the Back to the Future trilogy) Well, I mean, seriously, how lucky am I? That part was such a gift, you know? They just don't come along that great. I've had a few great parts, and that's definitely at the top of the list. For some reason, I just really got her. I got the depressed, beaten-down, drunken Lorraine, and I got the young, silly, oversexed, repressed Lorraine from 1955. Some parts just click in your head, and you just go for it. I remember the audition or screen test-whatever it was-at Amblin, where Spielberg was working the camera. It was just so much fun, playing dress-up and inventing these characters, and then the idea that they let me play four or five more aspects of the same person in Back to the Future II and III... It really was such a gift. It's really interesting to me, and to Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale and all of us, how resonant the movie still is to people. I think the themes were even bigger than they thought when they made the movie. The key theme that I think about is the idea that one moment could change your life forever, that one moment of standing up for yourself or having courage against a bully could change your life forever, like when George punches Biff and saves Lorraine. And the idea that, y'know, your parents were young once. They had the same dreams that you have as a teenager and the same passions and know how important that part of your life is. Those are really important themes that continue to resonate, and I think that's why parents keep wanting to show their kids these movies. And grandparents. I feel really, really lucky to be mostly known for that movie and that part. It was a great part.
(2012) Red Dawn was really the most fun I ever had making a movie, because I love Westerns, and I love the idea of being a tomboy, and riding horses and shooting guns. I remember Jennifer Grey and I being, like, tormented but amazed by the politics of Red Dawn, but the truth is that the story is a fascinating one. The idea was so interesting. The movie is like a really, really low budget of its day. You don't see anything. They talk about how Chicago just fell to the Russians, but you don't see it. We only talk about it. I think it's kind of powerful on that level, that it's more like a play or a book, where the war that you actually do see feels more real as a result. I dunno, I just had a lot of fun being out on the tundra with John Milius and all the craziness that went along with that. And the guys were all so awesome, and we had such camaraderie. Patrick [Swayze] and Charlie [Sheen], who was a madman even then. He was awesomely unpredictable even then, but he was adorable. I just had a really interesting time in the '80s. I tore it up in the '80s!
(2012) Casual Sex? Well, that was based on a Groundlings sketch, and it was a really interesting movie because we basically shot the movie, then they tested it and pretty much reshot half of it. It was really weird. Andrew Dice Clay was designed to be the complete buffoon, then for some reason they made me marry him in the reshoots. I've never seen anything like it. This happens a lot, though. Recently I watched the trailer for it, and they have all these scenes from when he was a buffoon that they'd cut out of the movie but still put in the trailer. So that was bizarre. They actually shot me marrying three different guys in that movie. The whole thing was really weird.
(2012) SpaceCamp was an interesting movie because, after the first day of filming, we were already 10 days behind schedule. And it kind of kept on that way. It was supposed to be a three-month shoot, and it ended up taking six. We had T-shirts printed up that said, "SpaceCamp: It's Not Just A Movie, It's A Career." Oh, actually, instead of SpaceCamp, it actually said SpaceCramp. That movie was really fun because of the camaraderie we had. It was Kelly Preston, Tate Donovan, Kate Capshaw, and Leaf Phoenix, who later became Joaquin Phoenix. He was only 10 and just a wonderful kid. We all spent so much time together on that weird mock-up of the space shuttle. And then it was, like, the biggest disaster for a movie, because before the movie came out, between the time we wrapped it and the time it came out, the space shuttle blew up. Which was a horrible, horrible tragedy, so, of course, nobody wanted to see a film about a bunch of wacky kids accidentally blasting off in the space shuttle. It was just a horrible situation. Since then, though, I've had a lot of people come up to me and say that they became physicists or inventors, how much they loved that movie and how much it inspired them. That was really sweet and something I never really expected...It was a crazy movie. Very, very difficult and tortured film to make. But we had a great time, we laughed a lot, and we knew each other very well by the end of it.
(2012, on Article 99) Wow, that's a crazy movie. That movie was interesting because I was eight months pregnant when I did it. My husband directed it, and there was another actress in that part, but the studio didn't like her, so they said, "You picked the wrong person, so get your wife to do it for very little money, 'cause she's already there on location in Kansas, anyway." So, yeah, I stepped in for some poor actress who was fired, and it was a really great cast. Luckily, I was wearing a lab coat, so I could hide my big baby bulge, but I remember I did a lot of frantic scenes with Forest Whitaker, and, y'know, he's a big guy, so I was always afraid I was going to get smashed by him. But I was really proud of that movie. I really loved it. It was ahead of its time in a lot of ways. Now we're going to be having more and more issues with all of the veterans coming home, how we're going to treat them, and the state of health care in this country. I liked what that movie said, and I was really proud of Howard for making it. And sad that it didn't do better... It had an amazing score. Danny Elfman did the score, I remember that. And, you know, both my dad and my husband's dad were veterans, so it felt really powerful to do something for them, something about veterans. I was really proud of that. And, again, I was very pregnant. Poor Kiefer (Sutherland) had to kiss me. Or maybe just flirt with me. I don't remember if he actually kissed me, but either way, he's got to do this when I'm eight months pregnant... and in front of my husband, no less!
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