Lea Thompson has more than 30 years of experience in Hollywood, but recently she added a new title to her resume: feature film director.
The actress' new movie, "The Year of Spectacular Men," is set to debut at the L.A. Film Festival tonight and, for Thompson, who also acts in the project, it represents a new start.
Now 56, Thompson explained that she feels she can make some of her biggest contributions to the film world from behind the camera.
"By the time you get to be my age, the great parts go to women who have Academy Award nominations. I don't have one! I have a People's Choice Award but I don't have an Academy Award," she told ABC News with a laugh. "I certainly love acting, but I don't want to just do the parts I've already done before. I keep my options open because I know this business can always surprise you. When you turn one corner, something will happen that you never expected."
In this case, it not only involves taking on a new role, but also working with her two children, Madelyn and Zoey Deutch, who star in the film. "The Year of Spectacular Men" centers on the romantic relationships of a recent college graduate, played by Madelyn, who also wrote the script. Zoey co-stars as her sister, an actress named Sabrina, while Thompson plays their free-spirited mother, who's in a relationship with a 20-something woman. According to Thompson, Madelyn, 26, began working on the project because she was frustrated by the lack of films that she felt accurately represented women her age. The mother-daughter pair collaborated on the film together for the past four years, tweaking the script, securing financial backing and, ultimately, shooting the movie.
"Seeing the project from the beginning to the end is a really amazing learning experience. I can't believe I didn't have more respect for everyone along the way in my 35 years in the industry," she said. "It's so much work, it's so crazy. It's really like having a baby: creating something from absolutely nothing."
It also gave Thompson a better understanding of her children. Though the three appeared together in a 2011 film called "Mayor Cupcake," and Thompson had also acted alongside Zoey, 22, in the Freeform series "Switched at Birth," she said this film allowed her to more intimately know her daughters as artists and women. Watching them navigate the entertainment industry, a world in which both she and her husband, director Howard Deutch, have worked for decades, has made her very proud, she said.
"I've accomplished a lot and to follow in your parents' footsteps, it's a little daunting. I'm honored that I didn't make it seem like a bad job or like I had to be the only actor in the family," she said. "It does make for very boring dinner conversation, though."
But that doesn't mean that life on the set was always perfect. Thompson admitted there were "difficult moments" during production.
"It amazes me movies get done because there are so many people with opinions trying to work together!" she said. But ultimately, the actress/director called the production of the passion project, "one of the great experiences of my life."
"I'm grateful to Maddie for letting me direct her script because it's actually really hard to find a script you're passionate about," she said. "I'm honored that she gave me this piece."