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The Marvel Life

The Marvel Life: Lea Thompson

The star of Howard the Duck discusses that film, her geek cred, a surprising link to Spider-Man and more!

By Blake Garris

You probably know Lea Thompson best as the iconic Lorraine Baines McFly in “Back To The Future” or perhaps from her work in “Red Dawn,” “Some Kind Of Wonderful,” or Marvel’s own “Howard The Duck” to name just a few. But did you know that she’s a big sci-fi geek and her daughter will be appearing in the new “Amazing Spider-Man” film?

Back in September we had the opportunity to sit down with the one and only Ms. Thompson about all this and more, including how she tried to get Brad Pitt’s autograph and failed.

Lea Thompson

Marvel.com: I know you get this all the time, but what’s it like having all these movies that last through the years?

Lea Thompson: It just keeps being amazing to me. And you know there’s surprising movies. People really love “Howard the Duck.” I’m always getting tricked by the media into trying to put it down. It’s not my nature to put down my work. You know, I worked really hard on that movie [Laughs]. And you know everything’s subjective whether you like something or not. But I feel really honored to be part of a movie that is so maligned and so many people love it. Because that means the people that are fans are real iconoclasts and they’re bucking the system—I love people like that!

Marvel.com: Some press friends of mine had told me how nice of a person you were, and it’s hard to meet nice people in the business. What’s the secret?

Lea Thompson: I have this weird thing about myself is that it’s easy for me to blend into the landscape. So for me somehow I feel like I have an off and on switch that I’m like “it’s time to be famous!” or “it’s time not to be famous.” And when I turn off that switch, I think no one can see me [Laughs]. Because I genuinely do love meeting people. And so the idea that people would look at me as different or not one of them, that’s upsetting to me. Because one of the things I like most about being in a movie is working with a group of people, being part of a group; not different, not a set above or anything. So that’s what’s fun about the business. I think of myself as part of this group of people trying to have a good time celebrating being different!

Marvel.com: Have you had any times where you’ve geeked out over meeting somebody?

Lea Thompson: All the time! I’m geeking out over Carrie Fisher right now; and William Shatner. We didn’t have a TV when I was growing up and the original “Star Trek” was my absolute favorite show; it totally shaped who I am. William Shatner is the greatest actor in the whole world. I mean I would find myself at my friend’s house every night to see “Star Trek” in reruns. And you know, no one understood. It wasn’t my family. It wasn’t anybody else. I just saw that show. And see, the way William Shatner eats up the scenery; he’s the greatest actor! I mean, I swear he inspired me to be an actor. I do geek out over them. I’ve met Leonard Nimoy a bunch of times so that’s kind of worn off but not much.

Marvel.com: Speaking of that, what else do you geek out over?

Lea Thompson: Just about everything. And it’s really funny to me, a lot of times, because I turn off my famous switch. One time I walked up to Brad Pitt and I tried to get his autograph and he was like “oh my God, ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’ was my favorite movie! You’re the reason I came to Los Angeles.” And I was like “Oh I better not ask you for your autograph now” [Laughs]. I better switch my switch. Sometimes I forget.

I was just geeking out over Andrew Garfield and then I saw that he was just photographed in a Howard the Duck t-shirt [Laughs]. So that was really sweet.

Marvel.com: Do you have any favorite Marvel comics?

Lea Thompson: My brother collected Marvel comics. He’s got a huge collection of really cool ones so Spider-Man was always my thing. My daughter is in the new [“Amazing Spider-Man” movie].

Marvel.com: Really?

Lea Thompson: Yeah, they actually showed her at Comic-Con because I think when The Lizard first comes out he licks her. And my husband [Howard Deutch] did a movie with Rhys Ifans. So apparently my daughter was at Comic-Con: Zoey Deutch. I’m a real geek about Spider-Man and I’m really excited that that’s her first big feature. I just always related to that. But I’ve always been a comic book fan. And I have the whole set of HOWARD THE DUCK. They gave me every one of them—every one of the Howard the Duck comics. That was my consolation prize for the movie not making a lot of money [Laughs].

Marvel.com: Would there be any Marvel character you’d want to play?

Lea Thompson: I’m a little old now; are there any old women to… [Laughs]

Marvel.com: You’re not old! You could have done the Mary Jane thing with the hair.

Lea Thompson: Yeah, oh there’s millions of ‘em. I always want to play somebody that’s really evil but no one will ever let me do that. I mean, kinda the closest I got was Lorraine McFly in “Back to the Future 2” when I was like “You are the one who wanted me to get these things!” That was a character I’d like to play, some like big witch diva, a sexy witch diva.

Marvel.com: What’s next for you projects-wise?

Lea Thompson: I’m doing this movie called “Gamers,” I’m shooting it for NBC. It’s a TV movie about a bunch of kids that go to college to learn how to design computer games. And I have “Switched at Birth” which is an ongoing series on ABC Family. And I [was] in “J. Edgar” with Leonardo DiCaprio. And I have a movie called “Mayor Cupcake” out on DVD that I produced. I’ve got a real diverse plate. Something for everyone!

Be sure to catch Ms. Thompson in all her recent and upcoming film and television projects and you can also follow her goings on at Twitter @LeaKThompson.

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That one scene with Zoey Deutch in The Amazing Spider-Man was deleted, unfortunately. No justice, no peace. It's so wrong.