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What Ever Happened To Lea Thompson From Back To The Future?

In 1985, filmmaker Robert Zemeckis launched one of the funniest and just plain fun sci-fi comedies of all time, the "Back to the Future" franchise. The popular film series, directed by Zemeckis and co-written with Bob Gale, helped cement actor Michael J. Fox as a star after his rise to prominence playing Alex Keaton in the sitcom "Family Ties." Fox, of course, played "Back to the Future" protagonist Marty McFly, though he was not initially cast in the role. Instead, actor Eric Stoltz was famously replaced and the Marty McFly role was recast, with Fox taking on the character for all three films. 

In the time since, the "Back to the Future" franchise has left a cinematic legacy, not only for fans but for its original cast members as well. Fox appeared in "Teen Wolf" the same year the first film was released and went on to star in movies like "Doc Hollywood" and "Mars Attacks," as well as play the series lead on popular political workplace sitcom "Spin City." Doctor Emmett Brown actor Christopher Lloyd built upon the success he had as Reverend Jim Ignatowski on "Taxi" and went on to appear in more hilarious movie roles, like his turn as Uncle Fester in "The Addams Family." 

Lea Thompson, who played past, present, and future versions of Marty's mother, Lorraine Baines-McFly, continued her career in Hollywood as well, with more movies, TV role, and a turn in the director's chair. Here's what happened to Lea Thompson from "Back to the Future."

Thompson appeared in Howard the Duck

Lea Thompson had previously worked with initial Marty McFly actor Eric Stoltz in the 1984 comedy "The Wild Life" (via IMDb) and would go on to work with him again for John Hughes' "Some Kind of Wonderful" in 1987. But before that, she played the female lead in the much-loved cult classic but oft-maligned flop, "Howard the Duck." The title character, an anthropomorphic duck named Howard, is mysteriously shot from his home planet of Duckworld all the way into the American Midwest, landing in Cleveland, Ohio, of all places. It's a good place he landed where he did, because he was able to save Thompson's character, Beverly Switzler, from being attacked by some street thugs. Beverly plays in a band called Cherry Bomb and Howard (voiced by Chip Zien) becomes their manager. Beverly's friend Phil Blumburtt (Tim Robbins) has some ideas about how to get Howard back to his own planet, but not so fast; some weird creature called the Dark Overlord got zapped here too and will need to be dealt with.

In addition to acting in her role as Beverly, Thompson also sang on the film's soundtrack, which was written by Thomas Dolby. While "Howard the Duck" was a critical disaster, managing a dismal 14% critics score on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film remains beloved by a contingent devoted of fans, despite its failings. In a 2018 interview with The Inquisitr (via Archive.org), Thompson revealed that when she's done convention appearances for "Back to the Future," she always encounters fans of "Howard the Duck." "I sit there and I meet the fans, and a good one-third of them say 'I am the only person who liked 'Howard the Duck.” It's hilarious." Thompson went on to say she planned to meet with Marvel Studios to pitch a "Howard the Duck" reboot she wanted to direct.

She was the lead actor on the sitcom Caroline in the City

Beginning in the Fall 1995 television season, Lea Thompson appeared as title character Caroline Duffy in "Caroline in the City." Her character, the series lead, is a cartoonist who draws and writes a daily comic strip that shares its name with the series. The show chronicles Caroline's complicated love life with on-off boyfriend Del Cassidy (Eric Lutes) and the romantic tension she has with her newly hired colorist Richard Karinsky (Malcolm Gets), all of which she gets help on from her across-the-hall neighbor and best friend, Annie Spadaro (Amy Pietz).

"Caroline in the City" lasted four seasons on NBC, for a total of 97 episodes, per IMDb, of which Thompson served as executive producer on 22. Though it did not enjoy lasting success, the sitcom does have a few notable footnotes in television history. Episode 10 of Season 4, entitled "Caroline and the Bar Mitzvah," marked the first television appearance of actor Shia Laboeuf. Thompson's show also featured a couple of memorable cameos and her character made her own guest appearances as well. "Friends" actor Matthew Perry did a cameo as Chandler Bing in the sixth episode of the show's first season (via IMDB) on the same night that Thompson's Caroline Duffy appeared in an episode of "Friends" entitled "The One with the Baby on the Bus" (via IMDb) in which Chandler accidentally leaves said baby, Ross Geller's (David Schwimmer) son Ben on said bus. In addition to a member of the Central Perk gang, "Caroline in the City" also featured a cameo from Dr. Niles Crane (David Hyde Pierce), brother to Kelsey Grammer's title character on the "Cheers" spinoff "Frasier," in an episode entitled "Caroline and the Bad Back" (via IMDb).

Lea Thompson is the mother of two famous actors

Lea Thompson has had a long, successful career, but she's also made time to have a family. While working on "Some Kind of Wonderful" — in which she plays popular girl Amanda Jones — she met future husband Howard Deutch, who directed the film. Deutch, who had previously directed another John Hughes movie in "Pretty in Pink," is mostly known for directing television, though he did helm the hilarious sports comedy "The Replacements" in 2000 and headed up a series of comedic sequels, including 1995's "Grumpier Old Men," 1998's "The Odd Couple II," and 2004's "The Whole Ten Yards."

In 1991, the couple welcomed their first child into the world in daughter Madelyn Deutch (via Issue Magazine). Madelyn Deutch appeared alongside her mother in the 2011 comedy "Mayor Cupcake" (via IMDb). Thompson played cupcake decorator Mary Maroni who was somehow elected mayor of a small town and her daughter creatively appeared as her daughter Anita Maroni. But the family affair didn't stop there; Thompson and Howard Deutch's other daughter, Zoey Deutch — who was born in 1994 (via People) — also starred as another daughter, Lana Maroni. Zoey Deutch has gone on to appear alongside Robert De Niro and Zac Efron in "Dirty Grandpa," with Bryan Cranston and James Franco in "Why Him?" and Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone in "Zombieland: Double Tap."

All four members of the Thompson-Deutch family would go on to work together on 2017's "The Year of Spectacular Men."

Thompson competed on Dancing with the Stars

In addition to her various acting roles — which number greater than 100, per IMDb — Lea Thompson made time for an appearance on the 2014 season of popular reality competition "Dancing with the Stars." She was paired up with professional dancer Artem Chigvintsev for the 19th season of the American version of the show. Thompson and Chigvintsev managed to outlast the likes of Olympic hurdler Lolo Jones and partner Keo Motsepe, mixed martial arts fighter Randy Couture and partner Karina Smirnoff, and actor Antonio Sabàto Jr. and partner Cheryl Burke, among others. They did not go all the way, however, and were eliminated eighth in the season that saw actor Alfonso Ribeiro and partner Witney Carson capture the mirrorball trophy.

Thompson and Chigvintsev's exit in week 9 wasn't without controversy, as ABC News reported at the time. Many were shocked that the duo was bounced prior to actor-comedian Tommy Chong and his partner Peta Murgatroyd. Thompson herself said she was proud of her improvement throughout the season and that she got back into shape, including losing 10 pounds. "It was really great to feel like my body was my body again," Thompson said the next day on Good Morning America. "I never worked out and I got so much stronger. I feel so much better than I've felt in 15 years. I've got to keep doing it." She also heaped praise upon her partner: "We had really a great time. We were always laughing and having a great time, and he's an amazing choreographer."

She moved into directing with The Year of Spectacular Men

In 2017, Lea Thompson teamed up with her husband and daughters for her directorial debut, "The Year of Spectacular Men." Released in theaters and available to stream in 2018, the movie follows the story of Izzy Klein and her various romantic entanglements as she struggles to adjust to adult life after college, getting help along the way from her mother Deb and successful younger sister Sabrina.

In addition to starring in the film as Izzy Klein, Madelyn Deutch wrote the screenplay and composed the score for the comedy-drama, per IMDb. Her sister Zoey Deutch starred as her successful younger sister Sabrina Klein in a case of art imitating life. In addition to directing, Thompson took on the role of Deb Klein in the film, which was produced by her husband, Howard Deutch. Production of the film took place exactly thirty years after the pair met while making "Some Kind of Wonderful," something Thompson called "really sweet" in a 2018 interview with The Inquisitr. "It's amazing to be married or be with someone that long, but it's also amazing that we've had two daughters who ended up in the same business, who wanted to be in the same business, as us," she said. "That we could all create something together is astonishing for me. It's like, my life's work. Together. Completed."