Most of us have wondered what our lives would be like if we could turn back the clock, but few have thought about it as much as Back to the Future and Hallmark star Lea Thompson, who is now starring in Hallmark’s Next Stop, Christmas.
Not only did she enjoy this time travel movie, premiering on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, November 6, but she also shares the small screen with long-time Back to the Future co-star and pal Christopher Lloyd.
Next Stop, Christmas, is a charming holiday movie about successful surgeon Angie (Lyndsy Fonseca), who wonders what her life would be like if she had married her former boyfriend, who became a famous sportscaster.
Angie finds herself on “a magical train” going home for the holidays, and with the help of an endearing but meddlesome conductor, played by Lloyd, she has a chance to relive a pivotal Christmas in the year 2011, some ten years earlier, and find out what (and who) is truly important to her.
Thompson plays Angie’s mother, whose marriage has gone stale since she and her husband became empty-nesters. The Christmas they celebrate from long ago seems to offer major life changes for everybody in the family.
Bringing Thompson and Lloyd back together provided the extra holiday magic that was perfect for this movie. “It’s about a girl who goes back in time to get her parents back together; that sounds familiar,” Thompson exclusively told Monsters & Critics.
“Someone at casting had a very shrewd idea. I was super happy to do it, and I’m always excited to see Chris. It’s always nice to see him,” she says. “Before COVID-19, we saw each other at a lot of Comicon conventions and have always enjoyed our close friendship.”
M&C: Lea, the time travel theme is such a strong one, yet you and Christopher Lloyd don’t share any screen time in Next Stop, Christmas.
Lea Thompson: No. We’ve been friends for 37 years and he is such a great actor. But this is our seventh movie together, and we’ve only had one scene together in all of those movies.
M&C: Overall, please tell me why you were attracted to Next Stop, Christmas?
Lea Thompson: Well, I thought it was a good script and I haven’t made a Hallmark move in a long time, so it was really nice to be able to join this great cast. I’m so grateful because Hallmark Channel gave me my first shot at directing and has always been really good to me, so I was super grateful to have an opportunity. And of course, so many friends and family are Hallmark Christmas junkies, so I was really excited.
It was really way above the average movie, so I was very happy to be part of it. Then I met the director and Lyndsy, who plays my daughter, who just couldn’t have been more lovely. Really, it was a wonderful experience making it, so I hope that comes across on the screen because we all had a truly nice time.
M&C: Tell me about your character and the various storylines in this movie?
Lea Thompson: What I appreciated about this movie is that there are all kinds of different story arcs for all the characters, so I think that no matter who you are, you can relate to one of the characters and what they’re going through. That’s lovely. I don’t see that in a lot of Christmas movies. There is the one daughter who’s having trouble with fertility and it’s hard on her life and her marriage.
M&C: And your character’s tenuous marriage…
Lea Thompson: Yes, my marriage in the movie is hard because we’ve been together so long and the kids are gone. So, we don’t know how to make it work anymore. And Lyndsey’s story about which guy is right for her, it’s always a theme in these kinds of movies. But something about the way she pulls it off is really appealing.
M&C: Besides the Back to the Future feel, whenever I see a movie with that kind of a message it always makes me feel like Our Town.
Lea Thompson: Oh God, what a great play. That play still holds up. I think I saw it five years ago and I was crying. You’re right. It’s a very powerful notion, the idea of going back and changing things and making the future better.
M&C: Is that something that appeals to you? Would you want to do a do-over because of any big regrets?
Lea Thompson: No. I feel like I don’t have that big of regrets in my life, and I feel like going back in time would be a dangerous business. People always ask me if I could go back in time, where would I go? And I’m always like, ‘Well, maybe if I was not a woman, I’d want to go traveling in time.’ But I prefer being able to vote, and I like penicillin, so I’m going to stay right where I am.
M&C: If you did go back and change anything, even something small, you wouldn’t have your current life and family.
Lea Thompson: Yeah, I know, that’s why it’s so dangerous. Every step that you made that might have seemed like a mistake might have been the best thing you did. My biggest tragedy is that I didn’t make it as a ballet dancer, but then I got to be an actress which has taken me to so many beautiful places and then taken me to be a director, which I love.
Mostly it’s about meeting great people like Lyndsy. It’s about getting to spend time with all of those lovely people around a Christmas tree in sweaters at 98 degrees making these sweet memories that I will always cherish.
M&C: When and where did you film this movie?
Lea Thompson: August in Connecticut, which was so beautiful. I hadn’t been there in a long time. It was truly gorgeous.
M&C: Since we’re talking about Christmas movies and the holidays, please share some favorite holiday traditions that mean a lot to you and your family.
Lea Thompson: We love to cook. We love making and having a communal dinner together. We love making cookies and because we are a blended Jewish family, we enjoy making latkes for Hanukkah. We enjoy going shopping together and wrapping together. We also love telling stories while sitting by the fire. We enjoy every minute of it.
M&C: Are there long-held Christmas traditions you hold close to your heart?
Lea Thompson: We used to go to Montana for Christmas when my mother and father were still alive, which was really fun because we would just go to this log cabin where we would light fires, go sledding, and cook.
So those are our traditions. And because cooking was so central to our family culture, both of my daughters are amazing chefs. They cook the most amazing food, and they set it down, and there’s no drama, which I appreciate. It means that they learned how to cook with love, really enjoying making something to give to other people so that they can be happy.
M&C: What does this sharing of food mean to you?
Lea Thompson: It’s a real tradition in my family that started with what my mother gave me. I’m the youngest of five, so we had a lot of kids and not a lot of money, but sitting down to dinner as a family was very important to my mother. I carry on that tradition, and I’m happy that my children do, too.
M&C: What are some of the takeaways or the life lessons that you think of this particular movie? I saw a focus on family, not letting work stop you from having a personal life, and not staring at your phone 24/7.
Lea Thompson: Well, those are really important lessons. I think that’s the reason people watch these movies and learn these lessons over and over again. It’s important to find balance, and it’s difficult to find balance in any life. The balance between work and play, and family, and business, and your own identity and your family’s identity. It’s all about balance, and it’s really easy to go one way too far or the other way too far. That’s what I’ve learned in my life; it’s all about balance.
M&C: Family appears to be a major anchor in your life.
Lea Thompson: Yes, I’m a very, very strong family person. I’m just all about family, but I’ve also had a really strong and wonderful career. I feel like I’ve had moments when the balance was off in either direction and moments where I pulled it off. But what’s important is always trying to find that equilibrium and to not beat yourself up when you kind of get out of alignment, but instead to just stick yourself back together.
M&C: This movie is a bit of a tear-jerker, too. There were a few tears shed.
Lea Thompson: That’s so sweet; I’m so glad that it touched you. Well, you know, we need to cry. We need to get it out. There’s a lot to get out in the world.
M&C: What do you enjoy about working with your daughters?
Lea Thompson: Actually, my husband (Howard Deutch) and I both directed both of our daughters, Madelyn and Zoey Deutch. I can’t wait to get directed by them. I love working with my daughters and I hope to do it again soon.
We all did a podcast together when it was full lockdown COVID-19, so that was nice to have something to do together. I still love all of my daughters. I’ve had such great daughters in my lifetime in movies. I love every one of them still. I still love Jessy Schram from the Jane Doe movies, who played my daughter. I’ve been so lucky.
M&C: If you come across Caroline in the City, the Jane Doe mysteries, or Switched at Birth, do you sit down and watch?
Lea Thompson: I know they have Jane Doe Marathons on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Channel. They start at seven in the morning and they finish at 11 at night, once or twice a year. That is so cool that people still want to watch those movies. But overall, I don’t watch my work very much. In my family, my kids haven’t seen most of my work. I guess it’s mostly just weird to see yourself a lot younger.
M&C: How do you view your body of work?
Lea Thompson: I feel really proud to have the job that I do, where I get to make people smile or cry or laugh. I’ve been an entertainer for 50 years, and I didn’t realize until COVID-19 that it is actually a really cool job that was important to so many people.
M&C: So, overall, if you wanted to sum up, why do you encourage my readers to watch this particular movie?
Lea Thompson: Well, I think they’ll really enjoy it. There are really good actors, a really good script, and I think that the affection and family spirit that we had while making the movie, I think it’s going to come through and be extremely enjoyable for your viewers. I think you will have a great time and get into the spirit of the holiday season.
Next Stop Christmas premieres on the Hallmark Channel on Saturday, November 6 at 8 p.m. ET.
For more about Hallmark Channel: Kristin Booth reveals ‘why we all need Hallmark movies right now.’