Hello and Happy New Year! I hope you all had a great celebration last night. Today to see the new year in we have Lea Thompson here to talk a little about her film The Trouble With The Truth, the legacy of Back to the Future and much, much more! Read on for our chat…
Hello and thank you for sitting down and doing this interview with me today! How are you?
I am fantastic and so sorry that I took so long to get back to you.
That’s OK, I know you’re very busy! It seems that you were fairly instrumental in getting Trouble made, not only signing on as lead actress but also helping to get John Shea involved and becoming one of the film’s producers. What was it about this film as a whole, which prompted you to become so involved?
I absolutely loved the script and Jimmy had such a strong vision of what he wanted. I also knew it would be a challenge to take on a film that is basically two people. It was definitely scary but ultimately exciting.
‘I think what makes it cinematic is that you get to see up close the play of emotions on our faces, the subtlety of our expressions both facially and verbally wouldn’t be possible on stage…’
– Lea Thompson
Jim Hemphill was saying to me that he thought you ‘responded to the idea of doing a more complex, dramatic part’ which is something he felt was something that you rarely got to do. Would you say that this is the case?
Well, there are certainly not many roles this involved and complex for women and I loved the point of view of both characters. But what struck me when I saw the movie with an audience was how many laughs there were in this piece. And I find that to be very important because it shows that people are really involved with the characters when they can laugh.
I have to say it is a terrific performance that you give and it’s one that’s full of complexities and emotional layers… how did you go about approaching Emily?
We had very little time to rehearse so I think I had to use my instinct more than my intellect to try and understand her. It really is a dance between two people who know each other very well and who still love each other, and I think we can all relate to that on a deep level.
It was really one of those beautiful happy accidents that John, Jimmy and I all clicked in both a personal and professional level and that resulted in all of us trusting each other enough to be free.
In many ways, this does resemble a play with its heavy focus on dialogue and its scrutiny on two performers working off each other. Were there conscious decisions that you made in order to give a more cinematic performance?
I think what makes it cinematic is that you get to see up close the play of emotions on our faces, the subtlety of our expressions both facially and verbally wouldn’t be possible on stage. Jimmy had a very clear notion, even though he is one of the most amazing students of cinema that I know, made a decision to keep the camera moves simple and keep the locations almost claustrophobic. Jimmy also had the brilliant idea of shooting both of our close-ups at the same time which made it possible for us to be completely alive in every take and not worry about matching or overlapping. It created an environment where we felt like we could be improvisational with our emotions.
I know that you have a body of stage work under your belt, and of course you did a lot of ballet when you were young. I was wondering if there is something about the thrill of performing live which you particularly enjoy, and which you perhaps cannot get from working on a film set?
It is absolutely electrifying to perform live on stage but this film almost duplicated that because we did very long sections of the movie in one piece, in one take, some times ten minutes or up to twelve pages in the same take. And I always feel like the crew is my audience. It helps me to stay alive in the moment.
As a big Cabaret fan, I have to ask you about when you took on the role of Sally Bowles. What was it like to be in such a production? Was there a certain amount of nervousness considering you were taking on such an iconic part?
Playing Sally Bowles in Cabaret on Broadway was one of the highlights of my life and career. It was a great production and literally the first musical that I have ever done. It is being revived again, the exact same production, on Broadway and I only wish I was still young enough to play the part again. It was so much fun!
You’ve also sang in other projects and shows like Celebrity Duets… with the Back to the Future musical on its way, I was wondering firstly what you thought of the idea, and secondly whether you will be involved in any way?
I am always amazed at the longevity of Back To the Future and am very excited they are making a musical of it. I won’t be involved except maybe going to the premiere. I love singing and do a lot for charities both with my two daughters and by myself. And I have been doing a little folk singing on my show, Switched At Birth, which has been really fun.
And finally, are there any other upcoming projects that you would like us to look out for?
The fourth season of my ABC Family show, Switched at Birth, is premiering on Tues, Jan 8th, and I am currently directing an episode. I am also in pre-production to direct the feature film, The Year of Spectacular Men, which is written by and starring my daughter, Madelyn Deutch. I will also be starring in it with my other daughter, Zoey Deutch.
And there you have it. A big thank you to Lea Thompson for taking time out to speak with me today, I hope you all enjoyed the interview! Be sure to leave your thoughts in the comment box below!