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Nicki Gostin
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Lea Thompson: 'Switched At Birth' Shows Powerful Relationships

Posted: 03/01/12 03:39 PM ET  |  Updated: 03/01/12 03:40 PM ET

Lea Thompson may always be remembered as Lorraine Baines, Marty McFly's mom in the classic 1985 film "Back to the Future," but these days she can be seen on ABC Family's "Switched at Birth."

The popular show is about two teen girls who were accidentally switched at birth, as the title suggests, and one of the girls happens to be deaf. The show has heart, according to Thompson, and tackles problems many teenagers face every day.

Thompson, 50, spoke to The Huffington Post about the show and her long, "interesting" career, which got a boost thanks to "Back to the Future."

"Switched at Birth" just started its second season. How's it going?
I'm really proud of it. At first, I thought that the show would be just for young women, and they were not going to give me anything to do, but it didn't turn out that way. What they're really trying to do is get mothers and daughters to watch together, which they have accomplished.

Were you worried all of your lines would be like, "Honey, are you okay?"
Yeah, definitely, but the pilot wasn't written like that. It has a really great conflict and we just finished our 21st show. The stories between the mothers and daughters are really powerful. The possibility for drama is so organic to this show. I have two teenage daughters, so I can definitely attest to that.

The fact that one of the daughters is deaf ... We're all learning to sign and they spend a lot of time with that, and that is also really unusual. It's helped us grab an audience that is completely underserved -- not just the deaf community, but also their families.

You've been famous for a long time.
I have a very interesting career. I have a very diverse fan base because of all the stuff I've done, and I'm growing a new group [of fans] all the time because people are always showing "Back to the Future" to their kids.

It's such a different world now with Twitter and social media. It's a completely different experience being a celebrity now because when I was young ... er (laughs) all the publicists would say, "Stay away from your fans, keep aloof and only do this or that," and now it's a whole different thing with celebrities having direct access to their fans, which is something I prefer in a way.

I don't like a class system. I don't like the idea of being in a different class than other people. It upsets me a lot, so I kind of enjoy that experience of being on a teen-centric show. I enjoy learning about the new technologies. I enjoy getting to know the new fans and dealing with them on their turf.

I think teen girls are having a really rough time; they always do. It's just chemically a hard time. I think our show humanizes their problems and doesn't belittle them. I started out in a John Hughes movie and that was the whole beauty of that kind of genre -- to take their problems really seriously and understand their lives are extremely passionate.

Do you think there's a week when "Back to the Future" isn't playing on TV somewhere?
Probably not a day. It's interesting; it's had such a long life. Clearly it has moved people on some profound level and that's something that surprised us all. We were shooting a prom scene yesterday [for "Switched at Birth"] and a bunch of the camera crew was really excited about going to the prom with "Lorraine." They wore tuxedo T-shirts and the sound guy played "Earth Angel" from "Back to the Future." It was so sweet! The crews are usually pretty hardened vets.

Do guys hit on you because they want to make out with Lorraine?
(Laughs) I don't know. I wouldn't be kind of cognizant of that. Maybe.

I know it was a million years ago, but you were once engaged to Dennis Quaid. I love how everyone in Hollywood is connected.
Everyone is six degrees [apart]. I think it's funny he named his daughter Zoe and I have a daughter Zoey. He's a great guy and he taught me everything I needed to know about Hollywood and acting. I met him on my very first movie so I didn't know anything. I really owe him a debt of gratitude for teaching me the ropes.

Sounds like you owe him a percentage.
Perhaps!

Check out some other "Switched at Birth" cast interviews below:

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