Actress and director Lea Thompson sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Thompson talks about her nude scene with Tom Cruise, landing a role in “Back to the Future,” how acting has influenced her as a director, and much more. Highlights below.
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Lea Thompson –
On being naked with Tom Cruise in “All the Right Moves”: “I got this movie called “All the Right Moves,” which was fairly kind of, like, an indie kind of movie. You know, now it’d be super indie, even though it was made by 20th Century Fox. Tom Cruise was a rising star. He was only like five-foot-six. So they were like, ‘Can he be in football? A guy you believe is going to get a scholarship to college in football? No.’ But he was like this rising star I think. And I auditioned for it, but nudity was required. And I really didn’t feel like doing nudity. And so I auditioned for this littler part. And then they were like, ‘You’re so good. We’d like you for the lead.’ I remember it like it was yesterday. And Michael Chapman who was a famous DP was directing it and they were like, ‘We need to know– before we fly you out to Hollywood to read with Tom Cruise– we need to know that you will take your top off.’ So they made me take my top off in this dark casting director’s office. And the director was so embarrassed, he wanted to leave… It was a very interesting experience on a lot of levels. And one of them was– I’ve said this story before– but Tom Cruise is actually really pretty great. He was like, ‘If we have to do this scene, let’s make it a really beautiful scene. And if she has to be naked, I’ll be naked too.’ So he was naked in the scene with me, and we only wore little white socks. It was so cute…. He was an ally, and I appreciated that. He was great.”
On getting a role in “Back to the Future” and understanding her character: “I remember, I did a movie called “The Wildlife” with Eric Stoltz. And that was at Universal. So they were looking at Eric for the part. And so they were watching, whatever, the rushes or the cam. And they were like, I think– there’s a lot of books written about “Back to the Future,” and I have never read one of them. But this is my story. And I’m sticking with it. So they saw me and then they had the audition, and they had the audition again. And I just like, really understood the part. I was not Lorraine McFly. But I really understood the part, both the dark parts and the light parts. And so I do remember screen-testing with some friends. I believe you can see it online, me screen testing with C. Thomas Howell. I had, like, five lines, and I didn’t even bother to learn them, which is absolutely astonishing. And then when I finally did the screen test, I don’t think there was another actor involved. And it was at Amblin. And I remember Steven Spielberg working the camera and how lovely everybody was. And then they put a wig on me and they had me do it like the old Lorraine. And I knew I had it. I was just, like, born to play that part. I understood her completely… I just understood how horny she was, and that was a funny idea. And I went for it, you know, the really repressed 1950s girl like a cat in heat. And then I also understood the flip side of the alcoholic Lorraine. Who was ‘Oh so old!’ at 47.”
On how being an actress influenced her directing: “One of my things I really love is directing young actors, especially young actresses, because I really understand what it’s like to be an ingenue. How people try to reduce you when you’re a pretty young woman. And so I love to lift them up. And I love to give all of the little tricks that I’ve learned along the way, and also give them permission to, you know, own their own power. And so I’ve had some beautiful experiences with some amazing young actresses. And their feedback, or their little letters, to me are my most precious gifts… I think I come with a certain amount of goodwill to the actors because they know that I know what their job is. And I appreciate them. And I like them. A lot of directors don’t like actors because they’re scared of them. And they’re scary. Sometimes, you know, because you have to make your day and if they want to slow you down, you’re in trouble. But I have a mind for multitasking and fixing things. So it naturally lends itself to directing and sometimes as an actor, I was really frustrated, because I knew I could fix things and make things work more smoothly and better, and I didn’t have the power to do that. So it’s nice to have the power to make it a better day for people, to make things work better. And I like that. You know how you think, like, people– I feel like sometimes going to college, as an artist, gives you one thing. It doesn’t make you a better artist, necessarily, but it makes you be able to talk about it better. And I have a very, very limited formal education. I graduated from high school when I was 15. And that’s it.”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Frances Fisher (“Reptile,” “Titanic”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Shiri Appleby (“UnREAL”), Justin Bartha (“The Hangover,” “National Treasure”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Aaron Cooley (“The First Lady”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Alan Cumming (“Schmigadoon!, “The Good Wife”), Ethan Cutkosky (“Shameless”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us”), Kerry Ehrin (“The Morning Show”), Wayne Federman (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Michael Fishman (“Roseanne,” “The Conners”), Jim Gaffigan (“The Jim Gaffigan Show”), LaMonica Garrett (“1883,” “Sons of Anarchy”) Willie Garson (“And Just Like That…”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word”), Nicholas Gonzalez (“The Good Doctor”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”), Tony Hale (“Veep,” “Arrested Development”), Evan Handler (“And Just Like That…,” “Californication”), Patricia Heaton (“Everybody Loves Raymond,” “The Middle”), Jon Huertas (“This Is Us”), Jason Isaacs (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm”), Nathan Kress (“iCarly”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl”), Aasif Mandvi (“The Daily Show”), Rachel Mason (“Circus of Books”), Marlee Matlin (“CODA”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Let’s Get Physical”), Eric McCormack (“Will and Grace”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters”), Melissa Manchester (“Don’t Cry Out Loud”), Molly Smith Metzler (“Maid,” “Shameless”), Marta Milans (“Shazam!”), Rob Morrow (“Billions”), Kathy Najimy (“Younger”), Ken Olin (“This is Us,” “Thirtysomething”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Joey and Daniella Pantoliano (“The Matrix,” “Memento”), Ross Patterson (“Range 15”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory”), Kyla Pratt (“The Proud Family”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl”), Sheryl Lee Ralph (“Abbott Elementary”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi”), Reid Scott (“Veep”), Mona Scott-Young (“Love & Hip Hop”), Alena Smith (“Dickinson”), Julie Taymor (“The Lion King”), Tramell Tillman (“Severance”), Krista Vernoff (“Grey’s Anatomy”), KT Tunstall (“Black Horse and the Cherry Tree,” “Suddenly I See”), Matt Walsh (“Veep”), Alfre Woodard (“Clemency,” “Luke Cage”), Constance Zimmer (“Good Trouble”), and David Zucker (“Airplane!,” “Scary Movie”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.