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Lea Thompson had zero qualms about playing a mom with the hots for her son in Back to the Future, but she did get a little weirded out when co-star Crispin Glover once invited her to visit his all-black-everything apartment to prepare for their roles — a visit that involved painting a volcano together.
In an interview with THR, the actress who played Lorraine Baines-McFly said of her entire body of work, Back to the Future is the project she takes the most pride in, but making the film was not easy and sometimes pretty bizarre.
Calling Crispin Glover an “odd duck,” but “a genius,” Thompson reminisces about her co-star and how much he disliked the ending of the film.
“He was like, ‘what, we’re so much better because we’re now richer and we play tennis?’ And that wasn’t really the point, the point was that we were a fully functioning family, but he had trouble creating that character,” she says.
But it was Glover’s preparation for that scene that Thompson really remembers.
“The night before we were supposed to do it, he invited me over to his all black apartment; black lacquer floors, ceilings, everything. The way he wanted to prepare for that scene is that we were going to paint a painting of a volcano together, which we then did,” says Thompson, laughing. “I thought that was the most awesome preparation to play a character ever.”
Every time she watches Back to the Future, Thompson is blown away by Glover’s performance, she says. “If we had to paint a volcano to get there, I would do it again in a heartbeat,” she added.
Of course making the film was not a total positive experience for Thompson, at times, it was downright depressing.
Eric Stoltz, cast as the original Marty McFly, was fired four weeks into shooting and replaced with Michael J. Fox.
That hurt, says Thompson.
“I was very good friends with Eric Stoltz, so it was very difficult for me,” says Thompson. “He is a wonderful actor and it is a terrible feeling when something like that happens.”
Stoltz take on the McFly character was too serious and not what director Robert Zemeckis wanted, Thompson says.
Then something even stranger happened.
“They used some of the footage they shot with Eric [in the final movie], so that was kind of odd. I didn’t like that,” says Thompson. “You don’t act the same with different actors.”
Footage shot with Stoltz includes portions of the 1955 family dinner table scene and the 1955 skateboard scene when Marty is being chased by Biff and his goons, says Thompson.
“Movie making is really fun, but it is also something really brutal and these things happen,” she added.
Still, Thompson enjoyed working with Fox, who ultimately nailed the character Zemeckis had originally envisioned — and the mother-son sexual undertones, says Thompson, were hilarious.
“I appreciated the sort of odd, off-kilter subversive nature of the craziness of your mom falling in love with you and if you don’t get your mom and dad to kiss and have sex you’ll never be born,” says Thompson. “The idea that mom and dad have to get it on, I think we can all kind of get that. So it appealed to my sense of humor.”
Thompson — as other cast members have said — could never have imagined Back to the Future becoming the timeless classic it is, but the film was special to her from the very beginning.
“If I have to be known for one movie,” says Thompson, “I’d feel very, very lucky if it’s that one.”
The Back to the Future 30th Anniversary Edition is available now on Blu-ray and DVD.
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