Lea Thompson's The Year of Spectacular Men is a family affair and, more importantly, it is fantastic
The biggest selling point for The Year of Spectacular Men, as Thompson points out, is that it is a female millennial story written by a female millennial
Lea Thompson, who waltzed into our hearts with her endearing portrayal of Lorraine Baines-McFly in the Back to the Future trilogy, has been in showbiz for a while – 36 years to be precise. From acting to directing TV show episodes, Thompson has thrived and excelled in many aspects of the entertainment industry. Thompson recently made her directorial debut with the full-length feature film The Year of Spectacular Men. Thompson compares her directorial venture to finally becoming a paint brush after years of being the paint.
The Year of Spectacular Men, which is scheduled to premiere on June 15, is special. It stars Thompson's daughters Madelyn Deutch and Zoey Deutch. Avan Jogia, Jessie Bradford, Zach Roerig, Brandon T Jackson, Cameron Monaghan and Nicholas Braun are among the spectacular men who joined Thompson and her daughters on their ambitious project.
Here are some excerpts from Meaww's interaction with the brilliant actress:
Your directorial debut The Year of Spectacular Men also marks a unique collaboration with your beautiful daughters. How was this venture different from all the other projects you have directed?
Lea: I have been directing various television shows and movies for 12 years but The Year of Spectacular Men is the first story I have been a part of from the beginning. After 45 years (in the performing arts) of being the paint, it was deeply satisfying to be the paint brush. And creating alongside of my daughters Madelyn and Zoey made the experience even more special.
Learning who we are as women, artists, and business professionals in the passionate, creative environment of making a film was unique and powerful. And, I found I learned a lot from them, which is such a joy.
Madelyn’s commitment to her choices as a writer, actress and composer and ability to defend them clearly was complemented by her flexibility to collaborate. This is the mark of the real thing. Zoey is so unique because she possesses the rare balance of real, true artistic talent, and amazing organizational and production skills. They are my dream team and I am a proud mama!
Your daughter Madelyn Deutch wrote the script for the film. How early on were you associated with the project?
Lea: Maddie has always been a writer, and brave about it. She would write songs, personal songs, and have the courage to sing them in front of everyone. That’s the trick about writing, getting it out there, letting people see your insides. So when she had a bad year, I inspired her to write it down and it was spectacular. I really wanted to direct a feature so, of course, I wanted to direct the project. The three of us, Maddie, Zoey and me, partnered up to get it made. That’s a gigantic task, let me tell you. Four years in the making, lots of babies have been born.
Could you walk us through the casting process?
Lea: Maddie wrote the part of Izzy for herself, Sabrina for Zoey, Sebastian for Avan Jogia, and of course I was to play the yoga guru mom, Deb. But finding six spectacular men to jump on board seemed daunting. I needed leading men to play supporting roles and they had to be willing to be less than spectacular. Luckily Jessie Bradford, Zach Roerig and Brandon T Jackson loved the script and were more than willing. Zoey helped with Cameron Monaghan and Nicholas Braun who she had done films with before.
They are all so wonderful, I couldn't be happier. Also, Melissa Bolona is a rare find and she plays my girlfriend, Amethyst Stone. I was also lucky to get some of my favorite actors, Amy Pietz (Caroline in the City alum), Bob Clendenin, DW Moffet, Alex Mapa, and Troy Evans to come play with us.
What can you tell us about the film?
Lea: The film is a female millennial story written by a female millennial! Super rare. It’s the story of a recent college grad who finds herself stuck and perplexed by the mating rituals of her generation. It’s a love story about sisterhood and our collective confusion about what our purpose is. It’s honest, funny and personal. Go see it in the theaters on June 15!
It’s so beautiful on the big screen. Maddie's music and the soundtrack complement the film in the same way Some Kind of Wonderful's soundtrack made that film rock! And if you can’t see it in theaters, check it out on another platform.
Can you tell us a little bit about your character?
Lea: Deb is a woman who was in a tragic situation with the father of her two daughters and is trying to heal in a positive way. She finds serenity by becoming a yoga podcaster and she then finds love in a much younger woman. She's breezy and good at thinking. She's not judgmental.
You will also be seen in the upcoming Little Women movie. How was that experience? What is the most exciting thing about working on a project that has its roots in classic literature?
Lea: It’s a lovely modern adaptation. I really loved writer and director Claire Niederpruem's work, also the work of director of photography Anka Malatynska.
It is described as a "modern retelling" of Louisa May Alcott's book. Could you tell us a little about how that has been achieved and how that has affected Mrs March aka Marmee?
￼Lea: Wow, I wish that name Marmee was changed. I have been playing mothers of 17-year-olds for 33 years and they are always different. I haven't seen the final version of the film and they did a nice job of updating the characters.
I am one of the biggest fans of Switched at Birth and was so sad to see its finale last year. Do you have any regrets as to how the show ended? Would you have preferred any old story lines to have been addressed?
Lea: I loved working on Switched at Birth and it really touched so many people. Now, a whole new group are discovering it on Netflix. I am so proud of the whole experience. It’s super gratifying to be part of something that actually changes the way people see each other and themselves.
Who are you the closest to among your Switched at Birth cast?
Lea: Everyone! I love them all.
Would we see any collaborations with any of them, especially since you have been taking huge strides behind the camera recently?
Lea: Any of them. As a matter of fact, DW Moffet is in our film The Year of Spectacular Men. Sometimes, I forget that because it just feels like an extension of the last five years of working with him. He plays a collage professor. He is amazing and funny in the film.
What are some of your dream projects, actors and directors you want to collaborate with in the future?
Lea: I have a film in development with one of my absolute favorite actors Whoopi Goldberg, so that’s super exciting! I am also developing a series of books for a series. Maddie and I have a few other projects up our sleeves.
What are the top five shows on your binge-list right now?
Lea: The Handmaid’s Tale, Westworld, and since I have directed it, The Goldbergs, and Mom. I love to binge past seasons. Also, I have been watching my 90's sitcom Caroline in the City on CBS All Access. Some of these shows I never actually watched. Amy Pietz is just so funny.