updated: 24/02/2009

old-age: Back to the Future Part II

Lea Thompson played Lorraine McFly (nee Baines) in both Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II. In the first movie she had played a young Lorraine in the 1950s and underwent a prosthetic makeup application to play two quite different present-day middle-aged Lorraines – one unhappy and gone-to-seed, the other happy and fit. In this, the second movie of the trilogy she again appeared as two different characters – the surgically-enhanced middle-aged Lorraine who, having been widowed, had married Biff Tannen in an alternative present and grandma Lorraine in a possible future. The latter transformation required an extensive prosthetic makeup. She also featured briefly in Back to the Future Part III as both as a young Maggie McFly in the 1880s and as the present-day happy middle-aged Lorraine. Lea Thompson is only ten days older than Michael J Fox who played her son in the trilogy.

Elizabeth Shue replaced Claudia Wells as Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer in Part II but had equally little to do. Apart from momentary eye-rolling at the beginning she slept through most of the film, waking up only briefly for the her big moment when her older and younger selves met each other: each recoiling into a dead-faint in shock-horror at the sight of the other’s wig.

According to the transcript of one interview, Lea Thompson was not enamoured of the makeup experience:

It was pretty horrible, especially in the first movie, because the makeup artist wasn’t the nicest guy in the first movie: he would sometimes send me home with the makeup on, so I could take it off! But I was so young, and I didn’t know that was something really tacky to do! I mean, that makeup is glued on your face, you need a professional to get it off! It hurts! So that was pretty bad. The worst time I had was the Tales from the Crypt that I did while we were shooting the eighty-year-old Lorraine makeup in Back to the Future Part II, I had to do prosthetic makeup for the Tales from the Crypt and Back to the Future Part II at the same time. So my face was really terrible. It hurts a lot! The young Lorraine in the first movie was a great character. But then I also loved – it’s nobody else’s favorite but my own – I loved the character in Back to the Future Part II with the big boobs. She was so hilarious to me! I just laugh every time I see that!

I have to comment in relation to that quotation that I have only seen the transcript online so I can not validate its accuracy, nor do I have any idea to which makeup artist she may have been referring. As to the allegation itself, I find it difficult to believe that any makeup artist would send an actress home to remove her own prosthetic makeup – never mind the etiquette or the ethics, just think of the potential lawsuit.

Ken Chase created the makeup for both Back to the Future and Back to the Future Part II; Michael Mills and Kenny Myers applied the makeup in Part II.