Lea Thompson is known to movie fans for the wildly successful trilogy of Back to the Future films in the ’80s, but she’s now dancing her way across the ballroom floor. SheKnows talked to Thompson about why she’s making this journey on Dancing With the Stars to win a mirror-ball trophy.
“It keeps me young to do things that scare me. At least professionally,” she laughed. “I’ve been living in fear of them asking me almost since they started because I do have a dance background… well, that was 30 years ago. But I thought I was probably on their list somewhere.”
The producers emailed her late one night and offered her the gig. While her initial thought was, “It finally happened,” she had to check with her family first before accepting the gig. The show is a little bit “exposing” for her normally private husband and children.
“I’m trying to inspire myself to get on with this part of my life. I was a hot young thing for all those years and then I was a mom… just momming, momming, momming. My kids have flown the nest and what do I do now?” she questioned. “I had been feeling down in my late 40s. You can still dance, you can still sing and have a good time and do something new.”
Thompson found herself in good standing finishing Week 2 at the top of the leaderboard after an impressive jive with dance pro Artem Chigvintsev. However, she seems a bit worried about how the Twitter voting is going to play out on the show, since younger contestants like Bethany Mota and Sadie Robertson have huge followings.
“I don’t have that many Twitter followers compared to the other girls on the show. I can’t compete. It’s going to factor in. It’s going to factor into the game a lot and there’s nothing I can do to control that,” Thompson explained.
Her plan for the show is to be herself, since she knows what strategy works for her on a personal level.
“I’m not comfortable being competitive with people. I’m much more comfortable being nurturing and loving. It comes up a lot. The game gets played in an interesting way. Certain people get the hit songs, certain people get the big sets and certain people get the placement on the [show] day. All those things make a difference as to whether I live or not,” she joked. “Instead, I just have to keep on being loving and be of service to people. That’s how I get my strength in life.”
The Switched at Birth star is also enjoying her newfound friends on the show. Thompson really loves a fellow ABC Family actress.
She revealed, “I feel really loving to the younger girls. Janel [Parrish from Pretty Little Liars] is like my sister. I love her. She’s so funny. We come from the same place, we both love musical theater.”
Thompson is also digging Mean Girls actor Jonathan Bennett and fashion designer Betsey Johnson. She said, “Jonathan is such a mensch. He’s awesome. Betsey Johnson just kills me. I love her.”
As for the handsome Chigvintsev, who is leading her on the dance floor, she laughed, “I am immune to his hotness now. It took me a few weeks, but I keep telling him, ‘You’re not so hot.’ He’s a gentleman and he’s funny. And a great choreographer. He’s just perfect. I think people are going to fall in love with him.”
One thing she does have on her dance list is adding American Sign Language to one of her dances to honor the Switched at Birth fans.
She shared, “If I last, I am going to make sure that ASL gets in there. If I make it to the next week, I’ll start shooting Switched at Birth and we will have to be rehearsing a lot at the studio. So I am sure it will happen at that point, since someone will be there to teach us something to say.
“I don’t think Dancing With the Stars realizes what great Switched at Birth fans I have. People love that show even though it’s a little bit under the wire and it’s not Pretty Little Liars. It has a really strong loyal fan base.”
In addition to fantastic fans, Thompson also has two costars who are veterans of DWTS. Marlee Matlin, who participated in Season 6, told her to “pick up her feet, do her kicks and watch out for her hands,” while two-time contestant Gilles Marini said, “I want the world to see what a sexy woman you are. I want them to see the wild side of you.”
With the amount of fun Thompson is having on the show, there’s no doubt viewers will see that wild side soon.