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Thora Birch

Thora Birch, 2006
Born March 11, 1982 (1982-03-11) (age 28)
Los Angeles, California,
United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1988–present
Official website

Thora Birch (born March 11, 1982) is an American actress. She was a leading child actor in the 1990s, starring in movies such as Hocus Pocus (1993), Now and Then (1995), and Alaska (1996). In the late 1990s she moved on to more mature roles, in films such as American Beauty (1999), Dungeons & Dragons (2000), and Ghost World (2001).


Early life and career

Birch was born in Los Angeles, California, the eldest child of Jack Birch and Carol Connors. Her parents, who were her business managers from the start, are former adult film actors and both appeared in the pornographic film Deep Throat.[1] Birch is of German Jewish, Nordic, and Italian descent.[2] The family's original surname was "Biersch", coming from her German Jewish ancestors.[2] Her name Thora is derived from the name of the Norse God of thunder and lightning, Thor. She has a younger brother, Bolt.

From an early age, Birch's parents encouraged her to audition for commercials. She landed several parts, including advertisements for Quaker Oats and Vlasic Pickles. Her first acting job followed. In 1988, she landed the role of Molly in the short-lived television series Day By Day. She was billed simply as "Thora". That same year she won a part in the movie Purple People Eater opposite Ned Beatty and Neil Patrick Harris. Her performance won her a Youth In Film Award.


Birch's breakthrough role came in 1991 when she was cast as 'tomboy' Billie Pike in the movie Paradise which also starred Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith, and Elijah Wood. To obtain the role, she had to compete with more than 4,000 other young hopefuls who auditioned for it. Birch received critical praise for her performance.

Birch's ability to portray herself as a young tomboy landed her several parts during the period of 1991–1995, including the role of Dani in Hocus Pocus (1993). She won leading roles in such films as All I Want for Christmas (1991) and Monkey Trouble (1994). She appeared in two Harrison Ford films, Patriot Games (1992) and its sequel, Clear and Present Danger (1994).

Birch's performance in the 1995 film Now and Then teamed her with Gaby Hoffmann, Christina Ricci, Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, and Melanie Griffith.

1996–1999: Break from acting

In 1996, she landed a leading role in the adventure film, Alaska (1996). She played the role of Jessie Barnes, who has moved to Alaska with her father (played by Dirk Benedict) and brother after the death of her mother. Her father is a former airline pilot and upon moving to Alaska, he starts earning a living by delivering supplies to small towns in the Alaskan wilderness in his light aircraft. While making a delivery, his plane crashes into a mountainside. Concluding that not enough was being done to locate him, Jessie and her brother set out on a successful attempt to find him with the help of a baby polar bear.

After guest-starring appearances in the The Outer Limits, Promised Land, and Touched by an Angel, Birch took a break from acting. In 1999, she returned in the made-for-TV movie Night Ride Home and also took a small uncredited role in the Natalie Portman film Anywhere but Here. She was initially cast in the role of Tammy Metzler in the dark-comedy Election, but ended up leaving after only the third day of filming due to disagreements with director/writer Alexander Payne. Jessica Campbell was then given the role of Metzler.

American Beauty - Ghost World

Later in 1999, Birch won enormous critical praise playing the role of Jane Burnham in American Beauty and was nominated for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts award. The movie itself went on to win the Academy Award for Best Picture. As Birch was 16 at the time she made the film, and thus classified as a minor in the United States, her parents had to approve her brief topless scene in the movie. They and child labor representatives were on the set for the shooting of it.[3][4]

After leading roles in The Smokers (2000), Dungeons & Dragons (2000), and The Hole (2001), Birch landed the leading role in Ghost World, alongside Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, and Brad Renfro. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.


Birch's most notable roles since 2001 have been that of Liz Murray in Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003) and April in Slingshot (2005). Recent films include Dark Corners (in which she appeared in the lead role as a woman who wakes up one day as a different person and ends up being stalked by gruesome creatures), Tainted Love, and Winter of Frozen Dreams.

The New York Post has reported controversy on the set of Winter of Frozen Dreams.

Even though it's industry practice to shoot sex scenes on a closed set, Jack Birch - who met Thora's mother, Carol Connors, as her co-star in Deep Throat - demanded to be present as his daughter and [Dean] Winters simulated intercourse last week. "It was so wrong," said one insider. "The director is saying, 'Harder! Faster!' and the father is giving Winters the thumbs up...." Making matters worse, a problem with the focus on the camera necessitated 14 takes. "It was the most bizarre, perverse scene," said our witness. "One girl on the crew broke down crying."[5][6][7]

Birch stars in the film Train, in which her brother, Bolt Birch, has a small part. The movie entails a trip to Europe for a group of American college athletes who unknowingly board a train that is occupied by a brutal killer. Birch has also been negotiating to have a part in the 2009 film Frail.[8]

Birch has indicated that she aspires to become a director and has recently begun directing short video sketches for a sketch comedy troupe called The Doomed Planet. The sketches can be seen on her official website.

In January 2010, Birch played Sidney Bloom in the Lifetime movie, The Pregnancy Pact.


  • 2001 - Toronto Film Critics Association Award - Ghost World
  • 2000 - Young Star Award - American Beauty
  • 2000 - Young Artist Award - American Beauty
  • 2000 - Young Hollywood Award - Best On-screen Chemistry - American Beauty (1999), shared with Wes Bentley
  • 2000 - YoungStar Award - Best Young Actress/Performance in a Motion Picture Drama - American Beauty (1999)
  • 1994 - Young Artist Award - Hocus Pocus
  • nominations
  • 2001 - Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical - Ghost World
  • 2000 - BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actress - American Beauty
  • 2002 - MTV Movie Award Best Dressed - Ghost World (2001)


Year Title Role Notes
1988 Purple People Eater Molly Johnson
Day by Day
21 episodes (1988-1989)
Molly TV series.
1989 Doogie Howser, M.D.
Ep: Vinnie Video Vici
1990 Parenthood Taylor Buckman
Married People
Ep: To Live and Drive in New York
Dark Avenger Susie Donovan TV movie.
1991 Amen
Ep: Nothing Says Lovin'...
Brittany TV series.
Paradise Billie Pike
All I Want for Christmas Hallie O'Fallon
1992 Patriot Games Sally Ryan
Itsy Bitsy Spider Little Girl (voice)
1993 Hocus Pocus Dani
1994 Monty
Ep: Here Comes the Son
Ann Sherman TV series.
Monkey Trouble Eva
Clear and Present Danger Sally Ryan
1995 The Outer Limits
Ep: The Choice
Aggie Travers TV series.
Now and Then Teeny
1996 Alaska Jessie Barnes
1997 Promised Land
Ep: Running Scared
Allison Rhodes TV series.
Touched by an Angel
Ep: The Pact
1999 Night Ride Home Clea Mahler TV movie.
American Beauty Jane Burnham
Anywhere but Here Mary (uncredited)
2000 The Smokers Lincoln Roth
Dungeons and Dragons Empress Savina
2001 The Hole Liz Dunn
Ghost World Enid
2002 Shadow Realm Susan Thornhill TV movie.
Night Visions
Ep: The Maze
TV series.
2003 Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story Liz Murray TV movie.
2004 Silver City Karen Cross
The Dot Narrator (voice)
2005 Slingshot April
My Life as a Teenage Robot
Ep: Escape from Cluster Prime
Vega (voice) TV series.
2006 Tainted Love Mia
Dark Corners Karen Clarke / Susan Hamilton
2008 Train Alex
2009 Deadline Lucy Woods
Winter of Frozen Dreams Barbara Hoffman
2010 Pregnancy Pact Sidney TV movie.
Crossmaglen Nulla McGarvey Pre-Production.
The Story of Bonnie and Clyde Blanche Barrow Sept. 2010

Music videos

From the album 18, released in 2002.

From the album Results May Vary, released in 2003.


External links

Simple English

Thora Birch
File:Thora Birch (crop).jpg
Born March 11, 1982 (1982-03-11) (age 28)
Los Angeles, California, USA

Thora Birch (born March 11, 1982) is an American actress. She was one of the most important child actors of the 1990's, and had big roles in films such as Hocus Pocus (1993), Now and Then (1995), and Alaska (1996). Since the 1990's she has had more serious roles, with good acting in films such as American Beauty (1999), and Ghost World (2001).

Other websites

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