Leah Thompson matures gracefully

Thanks to the three “Back to the Future” films, actress Lea Thompson was already a movie star in her 20s. That’s enough to rattle some performers for the rest of their life. But not Thompson.

“I think it’s always difficult just dealing with how you age gracefully, how you redo your time when you’re not chasing little kids around, and how you deal with the transition of becoming a mature woman — how you deal with that gracefully in a society that’s telling you you’re over,” she says in an office conference room here.

“You don’t feel over. You feel like, ‘I’m just starting.’ ”

Thompson has worked most of her life and, at 46, that’s not changing. She presided over three TV series, including her sitcom, “Caroline in the City,” and has co-starred in scores of films like “Article 99,” “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Some Kind of Wonderful.”

“I have a sunny disposition about it,” says Thompson, who’s dressed in a white gauze top, pearl and gold necklace, loop earrings and navy-blue pants. “I’m not one to sit and whine about parts and everything.

“But it’s the truth. It’s a 20- and 30-year-old’s world. On the other hand, it’s nice to not have the pressure. When I think of my 20s and I was a movie star doing movie after movie, and movies coming out and doing publicity. And in my 30s when I was doing ‘Caroline in the City’ and the pressure of all the awards shows and the dresses and the publicity and how mean everybody is. I was just always nervous, and it’s not always as pleasant as people think it is.”

Thompson, who started in ballet, learned in her 20s that fame is fickle. “It’s a short ride,” she nods. “I had the wisdom even at that point to know it wasn’t real, that it wasn’t because I was so fabulously special that I was doing all this stuff. It was because I was young and pretty and talented, but I knew it was not necessarily me. I was a piece snapped into a business machine. I knew that. It’s ridiculous to feel ashamed about not having a huge career, because no one does.”

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