MegaCon Orlando pulled off an unprecedented treat when they announced that the entire main cast of Back to the Future would be reuniting at the convention. Along with a Q&A session, convention attendees had the opportunity to meet the Hollywood elite through photo ops and autograph sessions. I myself took the bait and lined up with everyone else (Marty McFly garb and all) to meet the infamous Michael J. Fox.
I had tried to set up a few Back to the Future interviews with the cast (including Fox, Christopher Lloyd, and Lea Thompson) since I was attending MegaCon as Press, but to no avail.
That is, until the 11th hour when I finally had the chance to interview Lea Thompson herself.
Lea Thompson and her sister were absolutely incredible and accommodating. I was admittedly nervous, not wanting to ask questions that she had heard over and over again, but with only ten minutes to spare…well, I did my best.
I also attended Ms. Thompson’s Q&A with Back to the Future co-star, James Tolkan, on Saturday afternoon and asked her a simple, yet daunting, question. This was before I knew I would have the opportunity to speak with her for a one-on-one interview. So you’ll see that at the end! Here is my full Back to the Future interview transcript with the lovely Lea Thompson, a.k.a Loraine McFly.
C&C: So, I had a couple questions about…which, hopefully, you haven’t heard too often before because I know you get asked the same questions… What was the first day on set of Back to the Future like?
LT: Wow… I don’t remember!
C&C: No? Were you intimidated?
LT: I’m so sorry, it was only like thirty-five years ago. Sure, it was intimidating. I mean, it was super exciting, it was a great script, and you know, it was super exciting to be part of a Spielberg movie. I’m no dummy.
C&C: Of course!
C&C: And do you remember the last day on set? Like if it was emotional knowing you weren’t all going to be together again working on everything?
LT: Yeah… but then we did the sequel so we spent another year working together. But we didn’t think there was going to be a sequel.
C&C: In terms of conventions and everyone being here, have you seen any Lorraine cosplays?
LT: Yeeeeees! A beautiful one. Beautiful dress — exactly like mine — she had a wig and everything. I’ve seen a few, but that was the best one I’ve seen.
C&C: I have been wanting to do the dress, the prom dress one, for years but I’m not great with sewing so it hasn’t happened yet.
LT: Yeah, the actual real dress is very uncomfortable.
C&C: Oh really? I was wondering if it would be because it looked like it was corseted and I hate corsets, they’re horrible.
C&C: So, what are you working on right now? What can we see you in next?
LT: I am actually directing an episode of Star Girl which is a new show for DC streaming. So it’s really exciting, it’s my first kinda superhero show that I’m directing. But yeah, people are giving me directing jobs and not acting jobs.
C&C: Is that a good thing?
LT: Uh, you know what, I like to work so… it works. It’s good to direct.
C&C: So on Back to the Future, we see a bunch of behind-the-scenes things and it looks like a ton of fun making films, like, it seems like the best job in the world. So is it more work than play, or like, an even balance of both?
LT: No, it’s a lot more work than play. You know, we take it very seriously. There’s a lot of money on the line and yeah… It’s actually quite a long day. So like twelve-thirteen hours and when we were doing all the age makeup it ended up seventeen hours a day so…
C&C: Seven days a week?
LT: No, only five days a week…
C&C: Still long!
LT: But they used to be able to do six days a week, but no, the unions came in and said no. It’s very long hours.
C&C: Well, I’ll let you get back to your convention.
LT: You look fantastic! Thank you, Tiffani.
C&C: Thank you! No problem.
LT: Thank you, guys! Come to the comic-cons! Support your local cosplayers! Woo-hoo!
C&C: Thanks, guys and I’ll see ya next time.
And a bonus question I got to ask her on Friday at her MegaCon Q&A panel with James Stewart Tolkan:
C&C: I feel like this happens a lot with movies, especially recently, and they get made into sequels. What would your thoughts be if they were to remake Back to the Future?
LT: We get asked this question a lot and Bob Zemeckis still owns the rights, they didn’t make a sequel deal or anything, so we got all the rights. and they said repeatedly ‘over their dead body.’
But! They just announced today that they’re making a musical. So I’m preparing,
(Thompson singing) Oh my God, he’s a dream, oh my God, he’s a dream! Oh my God, he’s a dreeeeeeam!
MegaCon seems to have a knack for being able to snag at least one of the cast members from the iconic Harry Potter films. Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom) made his typical appearance at MegaCon Orlando earlier this year, and they’ve also managed to book Tom Felton and Jason Isaacs (Draco and Lucius Malfoy) at MegaCon’s Florida conventions. This year for MegaCon Tampa Bay, we were lucky enough to have two Harry Potter stars grace us with their appearance: James and Oliver Phelps.
The Phelps twins are no strangers to comic-conventions and have made their way to MegaCon numerous times over the past five years. Their natural brotherly banter is extremely reminiscent of the twins they so accurately portray in the Harry Potter films, which makes their Q&A’s a panel you don’t want to miss.
James and Oliver can’t seem to get enough of these conventions, and needless to say, I don’t think that we will ever get sick of hearing the hilarious anecdotes from their days as Fred and George Weasley. This year, they indulged us with their most infamous set pranks, revealed their boggarts and patronuses, and told us about their current relationship with “the boss,” J.K. Rowling.
So in case you missed the panel this year, here are the highlights from the James and Oliver Phelps MegaCon Tampa Bay Q&A session:
MegaCon Moderator (MM): One of you was particularly crestfallen when something really awful happens to the other of you late in the movie series. The most epic mourning, if there ever was, in cinema history. How true is this story?
[Side note: He’s referring to the story about the Oliver Phelps’ real life reaction to filming Fred’s death scene in the final Harry Potter film.]
Oliver Phelps (OP): Not…very. It’s kind of one of those moments where we learn and it’s released and… it’s not always true.
There’s a photo from the last movie where I’m crying over Fred. And there’s this whole monologue about how we were very much, you know, we embraced at the end of it and in tears and ‘I can’t anymore’ and this that and the other…
Never happened like that. We actually left James on the floor to sleep.
MM: Emotionally, you weren’t really terribly bothered at all?
OP: No, I was. Yeah, I was. But, it wasn’t the way, whoever wrote this very elaborate story, it wasn’t how they made it out to be.
James Phelps (JP): It was me!
James and Oliver Phelps and Fred and George Weasley Credit: Warner Bros.
After a couple questions from the moderator, fans were able to ask their own questions:
Fan #1: Prank wars: who were the teams, if there were any?
JP: No actually, I was best man at my best pal’s wedding a couple days/ couple weeks ago. And he played Rupert’s double in the films. And we’ve had a prank war going on since the third movie—give or take.
I mean he’s the one that did the best because he takes everything to heart, but he could give it back as well. We kind of agreed if we’re going to get into pranking someone you have to appreciate that it will come back to you, and you need to accept that.
OP: And to get him back twice.
JP: Yeah. Always get him back. So, I actually made him believe that he’d lost his job on the Potter films.
MM: This is a friend of yours?
JP: Yeah, this is a friend. My best friend.
MM: Your best friend?
OP: Why have enemies!
JP: So we were on a promo for one of the movies and we’re allowed to take a guest with us, so he came with us. And there’s a photo of him doing a load of shots at a bar. And so then we were like, well we need to get out of the way in case we’re seen doing anything like that because we’re here to do promotion. And he said, well I’m going to carry on.
And so we made sure that the next day, everyone that had gone around all social media in Helsinki said we were on the town getting very loud and disruptive and Warner’s going to pull us off the tour because we were sending a bad message to everybody and he’s to blame basically. And we actually had the first assistant director (who was his boss) text him and say, “Don’t bother coming in next week.” So we kept this up for a good four or five hours.
OP: And I guess now, looking back on it, this was while we were doing this amazing private tour of Helsinki on the water; it was this private boat, a lovely restaurant, and he’s there the whole time just like [head down].
JP: But one way he did get me back before was when I was getting my hair dyed back to brown from ginger, and he actually got the hair lady to pretend that she messed up and that I was going to have to have my whole head shaved.
He got quite a good reaction from that as well!
MM: Moral of the story, don’t become friends with the Phelps boys.
Fan #2: What was your favorite prop that you got to use?
OP: I suppose doing Quidditch and having the bat? That’s really boring, let me…
Favorite prop? I know it, because I’ve still got it: It’s one of the bags from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes.
JP: Hang on. So a bat or a bag?
OP: What was yours?
JP: The Quidditch World Cup programs.
OP: So a book.
JP: Because— if you let me elaborate—there’s actually inside (although in the film all you see is the front side of the program and that’s it) actually inside there was about 15 pages in detail of all the teams that were playing in the Quidditch World Cup. So the attention to detail really went into it. And when we weren’t filming, when we were sitting off set, we could read it. So you could actually do something with it, unlike a bag or a bat hitting an imaginary ball.
Fan #3: My question is, in the third movie they introduce the boggart: what would yours be?
OP: Mine would probably be a giant rat.
JP: And mine would be…the people at the airport security.
There are people at airport security that are like:
“What, I need to take my shoes off?”
“Yes, yes, take them off.”
“My laptop’s fine in the bag though, right?”
“No, no it’s not fine.”
“But I can take this bottle of water?”
“No, you can’t.”
That would be mine. All the moody people.
James and Oliver Phelps MegaCon 2016
Fan # 4 If you had a Patronus what would it be?
OP: Um, we’ve been asked this a few times and like to think I’m a quite mellow chap. So probably like a sloth.
Then oftentimes I think about how long that would take to actually appear.
JP: I did the tests online and I was given an osprey. But I really wanted a hedgehog.
OP: But you messaged J.K. Rowling…
JP: Yeah, I did ask J.K. Rowling and she said, “No, you’re an osprey.”
But we were talking about this a couple of months ago, weren’t we? And another cool one would be like a blue whale? Because it would just like take over the whole room.
I don’t mean it would just swim around, just that like it would drop into the room like bluuurp.
OP: Those dementors won’t know what hit ‘em.
Fan #5: What was your first reaction when you saw Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes or just Diagon Alley in general at Universal?
OP: Yeah when we first saw it at Universal it was an awesome, awesome feeling. Because when we’re filming it, it was mostly, you’ve got the ceiling and you’ve got the light bulbs and everything like that, and it’s actually a lot smaller. So the way they did it at Universal, it was even more immersive than when we filmed it. And obviously it’s cool to have your own shop.
But yeah, the first time we saw it wasn’t open for another week and a half or so, so we had the whole place to ourselves. And we were there earlier this year actually in January when we had A Celebration of Harry Potter. Which was good fun. And James and I at the end of it, we just said we want to have a look at the shop. And it was funny because folks were standing in front of the shop and you see a few people just suddenly start to (turn around) and go Oooooh. So that was pretty special
JP: But I think also ‘cause we knew from the Hogsmeade one that Universal, they don’t just put a sticker on something and say ‘this is an attraction.’ Like he said how immersive it was, that really captured our imagination. But the first time we saw it, they were actually testing the fire coming out of the dragon at Gringotts. Did you know that flame can touch the floor? Like, if they wanted to. So that was pretty cool to see that as well. So yeah, was just blown away by the detail.
Bonnie Wright with James and Oliver Phelps at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes
Fan #6: Of all the items at Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes, which do you wish was real?
OP: Skiving Snackbox. Not for me! But Halloween is coming up, and it would be great for kids coming up to the front door.
JP: You can’t—you can’t poison kids for Halloween.
OP: No, I mean you could—okay maybe that’s the wrong idea.
JP: I would say the dark matter. Then for events like this we could make a big entrance!
Fan #7: Where would you say is the weirdest place that you guys got recognized?
OP: It’s weird because being so close to something, you forget how big it is. So I went to a remote island in Fiji…
JP: You went to Fiji or a remote island?
OP: I went to Fiji and Fiji is made up of a lot of different islands…I went to this tiny, little one and there was this guy though, he was docking the boats, and he was like, “Whoa, hey man!” And yeah, he recognized me, which blew me away because he said he very rarely ever leaves that part. Yeah, that was pretty awesome.
JP: I was swimming in the Gulf of Mexico many years ago. And I was just out there on my own, and this lady kind of bobbed over. And she just goes, “Uh…Weasley?” And I say, “Yeah, yeah.” And she goes, “Oh, cool.” And just swam away.
Fan #8: What is the weirdest/strangest thing that you’ve ever had to do on set?
JP: Probably the, in the Goblet of Fire, you know when Fred and George have their beards grow and they age? Well we were asked to, the director said, “You guys have to fight. Because it’s gone wrong, you have to get angry with each other.” So we’re like okay—and we kind of start pushing each other. And he’s like, “No, you’ve got to fight!”
So Mike (Newell) just dives on top of Oliver and they’re just wrestling on the floor. And then all of a sudden Mike stops and he [grimaces] and he says, “Okay, just do that.”
We later learned that Mike broke his rib. So my brother broke the director’s rib.
OP: Totally by accident! He wouldn’t even let on; he didn’t tell us until about six months later that it happened. So that’s how much of a cool guy he is.
And I was just happy I made the edit after that.
Goblet of Fire scene Credit: Warner Bros.
Fan #9: What were your favorite pranks you played on set?
JP: There was one where, every trailer had the same TV in it. Every TV was the same and every remote was the same, so you could use the that remote on every TV.
So we were in—I think it was Rupert’s— yeah, we were using Rupert’s TV, the big one. We all hung out in there. And so we got him to believe that (of course, we’ve got the remote out of view), we got him to believe that when you put your hand up, the volume went up. And if you stomped twice— the channel moved up. Three times— it went down. And it you blinked hard enough, the subtitles went on. It was quite a good one! Feel free to use that one!
Fan #10: If you were in the Fantastic Beasts series, who would you team up with?
MM: I’m wondering what kind of role J.K. Rowling continues to play in your lives? She’s watched all of her creations grow up and on the movie screen and she interacts with you guys on social media. She seems to visibly still make sure that she checks in on you guys. What’s your relationship with J.K. Rowling at this point?
OP: I mean for me, it’s never really changed. She’s still— the boss.
JP: Still slightly shy.
OP: Still very shy around, with any interaction with her. Definitely. She’s just an incredible woman. Who I owe, pretty much more than half my life because of her. She’s been very, very good with us.
This article is [sic] and transcribed to the best of my abilities. I apologize for any incorrect wording. A full video of the Q&A can be found here!