If you think 1985’s blockbuster hit Back to the Future had the biggest impact of any film on Lea Thompson’s life, think again. "I’d have to say Some Kind of Wonderful did, because I met my husband [the film’s director Howard Deutch, 67]," Lea exclusively told Closer Weekly in a new interview. "Our 29th wedding anniversary is on July 23, and he gave me my two kids." And now, Lea’s making her big-screen feature directorial debut with those kids.
The Year of Spectacular Men, out June 15, was written by her daughter Madelyn Deutch, 27, and stars her younger daughter, Zoey Deutch, 23. "We worked for four years on it, so even though it’s hugely collaborative with Maddie and Zoey, it’s really the first thing I’ve created, the first that feels like it’s my own," Lea said. Now, in a candid interview with Closer, Lea opened up about her marriage, surviving her parents’ divorce, and getting naked with Tom Cruise — scroll down to read our interview with Lea!
You’re busy! Two more films, Little Women and Sierra Burgess Is a Loser, are due soon, but Spectacular Men is personal for you. How did it come about?
Madelyn came back from college and, lo and behold, her little sister Zoey was a movie star. She’d had all these terrible relationships and said, "Wow, it’s been my year of spectacular men." I said, "Write a movie about it!"
You’ve directed TV movies and shows for 13 years. How was this different?
I’ve always kind of been a muse — a dancer, singing other people’s songs, saying others’ lines or even directing others’ visions. This is the first time I was there from the beginning, inspiring it, and giving notes.
What was the experience like?
I learned a lot about Maddie and Zoey as professionals. They’re both really hard workers, really good at their craft and to the people around them. It’s fun to get to know them as they become full-fledged women.
You had your first big lead role around their age in All the Right Moves with Tom Cruise. What was he like?
This is a funny story about how generous he was. They wanted me to show my breasts twice in the script. I didn’t even audition because I didn’t want to take my shirt off, but I got the part and was like, "OK." Tom managed to talk them out of one of the [nude] scenes, and in the second, he said, "Well, if she has to be naked, I’ll be naked, too." That’s pretty badass! I’ve always been grateful to him for standing up to the producers.
And how about your memories of Michael J. Fox from Back to the Future?
They’re continuing, because we’ve been doing panels together. He’s so funny, clever, and self-deprecating, yet strong. If you want an old memory… I didn’t realize he was a star then. We shared a little trailer [on set], and we couldn’t get out because these neighborhood girls [trapped us inside]. I was like, "I guess he really is famous!"
During Some Kind of Wonderful, did you know Howard was "the one" right away?
No, I don’t think so. I definitely liked him and he had a crush on me, but I never really dated anyone like him, and I had a boyfriend [Dennis Quaid] at the time. Just day by day we ended up staying together, and I love him more than ever. He’s so funny, and he’s been such a good partner and dad. It’s magical to stay with someone that long. You go through a lot of ups and downs, but it’s been good.
Be proud for sticking it out!
Yeah, we’re stubborn, lazy or both. I’m happy we got through the rough patches. It’s hard — just having kids and getting older are stressful. I really appreciate him as a friend and partner. My parents divorced, so I didn’t grow up thinking people always stay married forever.
Was that difficult?
Even as a little girl, I knew they shouldn’t be married, so it wasn’t that difficult. My mother remarried and I was crazy about my stepfather, much closer to him than my father. I’m happy to have him in my life.
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Some memories from our festival run @theyearofspectacularmenmovie #howie looking proud @lafemmefilmfestival @maddiedeutch won breakout screenplay @twincitiesfilmfest lea getting primped after a rainstorm @napafilmfest @zoeydeutch cracking up @scaddotedu 🙌🏻distribution announcement Soon! #grateful
What challenges did you face as a mom?
As an actress, you’re on, but then you have a lot of time off. It’s like binge-momming! A lot of times when I was working, [Howard] wasn’t, so we were lucky. You have to show kids that you have a life as well. That’s why parents like to show their kids Back to the Future. It’s like, “We’re not just here to get you stuff. We’re people!”
Do you have any regrets?
No. I have a great husband, great children, great animals, and a great life!
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