Thora Birch (born March 11, 1982 in Los Angeles, California) is an American actress. Named after the Norse god of thunder, she began her career as a child star in the films Purple People Eater, Patriot Games, All I Want For Christmas and most memorably as Dani in Hocus Pocus. She also had significant roles in the films Alaska and Now and Then.
At the age of sixteen, Thora sought to pursue more adult roles, and got her wish with American Beauty. The film's portrayal of a dysfunctional family in a seemingly perfect suburb earned critical acclaim, and provoked lots of hype surrounding the younger actors. Thora even received a significant seven figure salary for her part in the British thriller The Hole. She also received a Golden Globe nomination for Ghost World. She seemed poised to become a star...
...Until the reported antics of her father/manager began to cost her roles. Despite her talent and directors being keen to work with her, she gradually disappeared from the mainstream roles. Occasionally she surfaced in an independent film or voice acting role - before taking a hiatus from acting in 2012. But 2017 saw her returning with a role in the sci-fi series Colony, and the film The Etruscan Smile. Could Career Resurrection be in the cards?
- Patriot Games
- Monkey Business
- All I Want for Christmas
- Hocus Pocus
- Now and Then
- My Life as a Teenage Robot
- American Beauty
- Anywhere But Here
- Dungeons & Dragons
- The Hole
- Ghost World
- Silver City
- The Etruscan Smile
- The Walking Dead (Season 10)
Tropes associated with her work:
- The Cast Show Off: She did all her own stunts in Alaska.
- Contractual Purity: Presumably avoiding said purity was why she chose to go topless in American Beauty at the age of seventeen. It seemed to work as she got a lot of critical acclaim for her role.
- Dawson Casting: She continued to play teens even after she became an adult. She was nineteen playing sixteen in The Hole. In Ghost World she was also twenty-one playing Enid as a high school graduate.
- Dye Hard: She's naturally blonde but more commonly known as a brunette.
- Dyeing for Your Art: She gained around twenty pounds to play Enid in Ghost World. She also dyed her hair green for a sequence in the film where Enid does the same.
- Enforced Method Acting: In the dinner scene in American Beauty, Kevin Spacey felt Thora and Annette Bening weren't giving the right reactions. So he decided to throw the plate, getting an appropriately shocked reaction from them.
- Fake Brit: She plays the English Liz Dunn in The Hole, with a decent enough accent.
- Former Child Star: A zigzagged example. She transitioned very well from child to adult, as the only one of her childhood films to be remembered these days is Hocus Pocus. But her famous roles came in her late teens, and her career slowly declined into adulthood.
- Magnum Opus Dissonance: She lists Hocus Pocus as her favorite role. Although a cult favorite, she is better known for American Beauty and Ghost World.
- The Other Marty: She was originally cast in Election as Tammy, but Jessie Campbell replaced her.
- Playing Against Type: As hammy Empress Savina in Dungeons & Dragons.
- Star-Derailing Role: Dungeons & Dragons derailed a lot of the acclaim she had earned with American Beauty. She did nearly rebound with a Golden Globe nomination for Ghost World but her Stage Dad's tendencies didn't help.
- Time-Shifted Actor: She plays the younger version of Melanie Griffith in Now and Then.
- Typecasting: As a Cool Loser or outsider type character. Part of this is intentional, as she claimed she "wouldn't wear the frilly bows."
- What Could Have Been:
- Christina Ricci was originally attached to star as Enid in Ghost World. By the time the film got produced, Christina was too old to play Enid, so Thora replaced her. Thora had been offered the part of Rebecca, but wanted to be Enid.
- She was cast as Lucy in an Off-Broadway revival of Dracula but was fired after her father had too many clashes with the rest of the cast and crew.