What the Hell Happened to Lea Thompson?
Lea Thompson is best known for playing Michael J. Fox’s mom in the Back to the Future trilogy. For most of the 80’s, she seemed like an actress poised for stardom. But when the decade ended, Thompson’s movie career dried up. From there, she transitioned into television. First as the star of her own sitcom and then in frequent made-for-TV-movies. Despite having worked steadily for more than three decades, Thompson never achieved A-list status.
What the hell happened?
As a child, Thompson took an interest in ballet. By the age of 14, Thompson was dancing professionally. She attended the American Ballet Theatre on scholarship and danced in more than 45 productions. But Thompson ended her ballet career after the director of the ABT, Mikhail Baryshnikov (yes, him) told her that she was “a beautiful dancer, but too stocky.” That must be the only time anyone has ever referred to Thompson as “stocky”. Baryshnikov’s feedback along with nagging injuries convinced Thompson to pursue an acting career instead.
In 1982, Thompson started appearing in TV commercials like this holiday ad for Burger King. This Christmas ad co-starred Elisabeth Shue and Sarah Michelle Gellar. According to Thompson:
“What was interesting about the Burger King thing was that I never knew that Sarah Michelle Gellar was on my lap. I knew that Elisabeth Shue and I had done commercials together, but… My daughter is on Ringer, the Sarah Michelle Gellar show, and plays her stepdaughter, and the first day I met Sarah there, she said, “You know, we’ve worked together before.” And I’m, like, “I don’t think so…” But she had her iPad, and she brought up that commercial. I just can’t believe that nobody had pointed that out to me before! What a great casting director, huh?”
Here’s another early commercial for Twix candy bars:
Around this time, laser discs were coming on the scene. MysteryDisc: Murder Anyone? was a laser disc game that allowed the viewer to play detective and try to solve a mystery by spotting clues in the movie. Paul Gleason starred as the private dick trying to solve the murder of a wealthy man. Thompson played the cutest murder suspect in the history of laser discs.
Posted on July 15, 2014, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged back to the future, caroline in the city, entertainment, howard the duck, jaws, LEA THOMPSON, movies, red dawn, some kind of wonderful, switched at birth. Bookmark the permalink. 148 Comments.