What the Hell Happened to Lea Thompson?
Thompson ended 1989 by appearing in the sequel, Back to the Future Part II.
In the sequel, Marty and his girlfriend (played in the sequels by Thompson’s Burger King commercial co-star, Elisabeth Shue) travel to the year 2015 to prevent something bad from happening to his son. He accidentally messes up the timeline resulting in an alternate 1985 in which his father is dead and his surgically altered mother (played by Thompson) is a lush married to a wealthy Biff Tannen. In order to set the timeline straight, Marty must go back to 1955 once again.
Most of the cast of the first movie returned for the sequels including bit players like Billy Zane. Claudia Wells, who played Marty’s girl friend in the original, dropped out of the sequels to take care of her dying mother. And Crispin Glover dropped out over a contract dispute. Reportedly, he was angered to learn that he was being offered less than half of what Thompson was being paid for the sequels. Glover attributed this disparity to some comments that he made that were critical of the original ending of the first movie. Glover objected to the ending’s implication that wealth = happiness.
Glover’s role was greatly reduced in the sequels and his character was played by another actor for the few scenes he was in. Jeffrey Weissman wore facial prosthetics to look more like Glover and he was shown from a distance or obscured by sunglasses. Glover sued because he had not given permission for his likeness to be used in the sequels. The case was settled out of court. Universal offered Glover over $700,000 to drop the case. They only offered him $125,000 to actually appear in the movie. The lawsuit resulted in the Screen Actors Guild instituting stricter rules about using actor’s likenesses.
Back to the Future Part II filmed at roughly the same time Thompson shot her episode of Tales From the Crypt. She remembers the strain of wearing age make-up in both productions, “I was doing scenes in old-age makeup on that one while I was also doing old-age makeup on this one. So my poor face was beat to smithereens.”
The second movie in the Back to the Future franchise received mostly positive reviews. But it was not as well-received as the original film. It was a hit at the box office, but also lagged behind the first film commercially.
In 1990, Thompson returned for the final chapter in the Back to the Future trilogy, Back to the Future Part III.
The third film in the series had Marty and Doc Brown traveling back in time to the Old West. Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis decided to shift the focus from the McFly clan to Doc Brown for the final chapter. As a result, Thompson’s role was cut down to an extended cameo. In addition to playing Lorraine, she played Marty’s Old West ancestor, Maggie McFly.
The role of her husband, Seamus McFly, was written for Crispin Glover. But when Glover dropped out of the sequels, Michael J. Fox played his own ancestor. Is it just me or does he look like Eric Stoltz in that make-up?
The Back to the Future sequels were filmed back to back with a three week hiatus in between. The two movies were filmed over an 11-month period. Zemeckis ended up flying between Sonora and Glendale so he could oversee editing for Part 2 while shooting Part 3. Reviews were decent and the movie was a hit at the box office. However, it was the least commercially successful movie in the series.
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. 149 Comments.