What the Hell Happened to Lea Thompson?
In 1983, Thompson made her big screen debut in Jaws 3-D.
Dennis Quaid and John Putch played the grown-up sons Roy Scheider’s character from the original Jaws. Naturally, they grew up and left Amity Island to work at Sea World in Florida. Incidentally, it should be pointed out that Sea World is located in central Florida and not near any beaches. This is important because the movie actually takes place in Sea World Orlando. That’s right, the owners of Sea World thought it would be a good idea to allow the makers of Jaws 3-D to show people being terrorized by a shark at their establishment. A tourist destination that is completely landlocked.
Oscar-winner Louise Gosset Jr. co-starred as the park manager who is more concerned about his budget than the lives of his staff and guests. Bess Armstrong played Sea World’s head scientist who conveniently trains dolphins to do things that will be important to the plot. And Thompson plays a girl who looks cute in a bikini. Thompson remembers lying about her qualifications to get the job:
“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.”
Originally, Jaws 3 was intended to be a parody. But when Stephen Spielberg caught wind of the plan to do a satire of Jaws, he threatened to end his relationship with Universal. Roy Scheider said Universal knew better than to even ask him to be in the movie. He had reluctantly made Jaws 2 due to contractual obligations after backing out of The Deer Hunter. Supposedly, he signed on to make Blue Thunder to prevent himself from being available to film Jaws 3.
At the time, there was a resurgence in 3-D despite the fact the technology was far from perfect. Several movies, especially movies which were the third installment of a franchise, utilized the 3-D fad that year. Jaws 3-D resorted to the cheapest 3-D tricks in the book and featured the least-convincing shark in the history of cinema. During the movie’s climax when the shark swims towards the camera and breaks into the park’s control room, the shark doesn’t move at all.
The critics blasted Jaws 3-D. Heck, so did a lot of people involved in making it. It opened at #1 at the box office, but earned significantly less than the first two films in the franchise. Still, it did well enough that someone thought Jaws 4 was worth making.
Thompson and Quaid began dating. Quaid was recently divorced from his first wife, actress P.J, Soles. Soon, Quaid and Thompson were engaged.
Posted on July 15, 2014, in Movies, What the Hell Happened?, WTHH Actress and tagged Back to the Future, Howard the Duck, jaws, LEA THOMPSON, red dawn, Some Kind of Wonderful, switched at birth. Bookmark the permalink. 150 Comments.