Lea Thompson Talks Her New Series Switched at Birth
Switched at Birth, starring Lea Thompson, Constance Marie, Katie Leclerc and Vanessa Marano, premiered last Monday to record ratings. Enough people tuned in to make it ABC Family`s No. 1 series debut of all time in Total Viewers.
Switched at Birth tells the story of two teenage girls who discover they were accidentally switched as newborns in the hospital. Marano plays Bay Kennish, who grew up in a wealthy family, but never felt she fit. Leclerc plays Daphne Vasquez, who is deaf as a result of meningitis, and grew up with a single mom in a working class neighborhood. Now, the two families have to try to adjust to the shocking news.
Thompson, who is best known to TV audiences for Caroline in the City and to film audiences for the Back to the Future trilogy plays Kathryn Kennish, Bay`s mother, but not her biological mother.
Now, Thompson talks about her role, how she would feel if something like that happened in real life.
Tell us about your character.
Lea Thompson: Kathryn Kennish is wealthy; her husband was a baseball player. She is a stay-at-home mom and she has created this little insulated world. She thought she had it all figured out and all of a sudden " crash " everything falls apart. She never really figured out where this person came [daughter Bay] from because she is so different than her and her husband, who are mild-mannered, not super deep, but good, nice people who thought they had it all sewed up and now their whole world is completely.
Lea, you are a mom. Can you relate to this at all?
Lea Thompson: Yes. Once you are a mom " I was talking about this with Constance " it jumps up another notch. Emotionally, I can relate to a lot of it. It is the idea of nature vs. nurture. When you have had your child, who will carry on the generations " It is looking into the eyes of your ancestors, really. It is very powerful. But then there is the other powerful thing of loving someone for so long, raising them and changing their diapers and all that. What makes this story so relatable, even though we all don`t know somebody who was switched at birth is that there are a lot of blended families in this world. You marry somebody with another family and everybody tries to make that all work, or adoption. How much of that is nature and how much of that is nurture?
Did you have any clue the series was going to do as well as it did?
Lea Thompson: When I saw the pilot, I was struck because sometimes it just works. It is magic. And that is what happened with this pilot. Not only is everybody really, really good; everybody is really, really cool and really, really nice. And funny. That`s an interesting element. I don`t know if the creator did it exactly on purpose, because DW Moffett [He plays Kathryn`s husband John Kennish] is like a comic genius and Constance and I are both known for our comedy work. But this is drama with comedy elements, which, I think, really makes it step up to the next level.
Back to the point of looking into the eyes of your ancestors, if your daughter is not your daughter, switched at birth-wise, when you look into her eyes, is that the connection you are not having?
Lea Thompson: Probably, there is part of that, but there is so much " I just read a whole article. There is a whole new book about it. You are so much genetically predisposed to your personality and there are so many things that are genetic.
It seems that because Kathryn has money, she feels she has the right to interfere with her biological daughter`s life more than the other way around?
Lea Thompson: Well, she is definitely more entitled and she sees things in a different way, in a simple way, which is the beauty of this show. There is so much natural conflict that is relatable. You don`t have to make up crazy stories. There will be emotional conflict and the writing is so interesting because both sides can be right and be completely different.
We saw that in the pilot and the two mothers are really at odds. And then they have to live together basically because Regina [Marie] moves into the guest house.
Lea Thompson: We share this love for each other`s child and there are so many different parenting styles and they both think they are right a lot. Then there is the whole issue of the deaf child and how we work that out.
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