THORA BIRCH Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Thora Birch                                                                         
Born: 11 March 1982 Los Angeles, California, U.S.                                         
Thora Birch (born March 11, 1982) is an American actress. She was one of the             
leading child actors of the 1990s, starring in movies such as Patriot Games (1992),       
Hocus Pocus (1993), Clear and Present Danger (1994), Now and Then (1995), and             
Alaska (1996). Since this she has moved on to more mature roles, with notable             
performances in films such as American Beauty (1999), and the acclaimed cult             
film Ghost World (2001).                                                                 
Birch was born in Los Angeles, California, the eldest child of Jack Birch and             
Carol Connors. Both her parents (who have managed her career and remain her               
managers up to the present day) were former adult film actors and both appeared           
in the pornographic film, Deep Throat. Birch is of Jewish, Nordic, and                   
Italian descent. The family's original surname was "Biersch", coming from her             
German Jewish ancestors. The name 'Thora' is a feminized form of the name                 
Thor, the God of the Sky and of Thunder in Norse mythology. Birch lives in               
Southern California. She is a vegan and holds a blue belt in karate.                     
From an early age, Birch was encouraged by her parents to audition for                   
commercials. She landed several parts representing companies such as Quaker Oats         
and Vlasic Pickles. In 1988, she broke into acting when landing the role of               
Molly in the short-lived television series Day By Day in which she was billed             
simply as "Thora." That same year she played an important role in the movie               
Purple People Eater opposite Ned Beatty and Neil Patrick Harris for which she             
won a Youth In Film Award for her performance.                                           
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 enormous praise for her             
performance and her career thereafter went from strength to strength. Birch's             
ability to portray herself as a young tomboy landed her several parts during the         
period 1991-1995, including the role of Dani in Hocus Pocus (1993). Her acting           
ability moreover continued to attract much praise and she won leading roles in           
such films as All I Want for Christmas (1991) and Monkey Trouble (1994). She             
also appeared in two big-budget blockbuster Harrison Ford films, Patriot Games (1992)     
and its sequel, Clear and Present Danger (1994).                                         
Birch's performed in the 1995 film Now and Then. It also starred Gaby Hoffmann,           
Christina Ricci, Demi Moore and Melanie Griffith. Directed by Lesli Linka                 
Glatter, the film is about four friends who have been so preoccupied with their           
own lives that they have not seen one another for some time until the impending           
birth of one of their babies reunites them. Upon reuniting, they reminisce about         
events during the summer of 1970 when they were 12 which were ultimately                 
influential in shaping their lives. Birch won critical acclaim for her                   
By 1996, Thora was one of leading child actresses of her generation. She                 
consolidated her position with a leading role in the adventure film, Alaska (1996)       
in which she plays 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. Whilst 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, Thora took a break from acting for a couple of years. 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 also             
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 after disagreements with             
director/writer Alexander Payne. Jessica Campbell was then given the role of             
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 barely 17 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 and they and child labor representatives were on the           
set for the shooting of it.                                                               
After leading roles in The Smokers (2000) and Dungeons & Dragons (2000), Birch           
landed the leading role in Ghost World (2001) alongside Scarlett Johansson,               
Steve Buscemi and Brad Renfro and was nominated for a Golden Globe for best               
actress for her performance. The film concerns best friends Enid (played by               
Birch) and Rebecca who graduate from high school and find themselves forced to           
enter the 'real world'.                                                                   
Birch's most notable roles since 2001 have been that of Liz Murray in Homeless           
to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003), which earned her an Emmy nomination,             
and April in Slingshot (2005). Her most recent film (which premiered on the 10th         
November 2006) was Dark Corners in which she appears in the lead role as a woman         
who wakes up one day as a different person and ends up being stalked by gruesome         
creatures. Birch has lead roles in two movies, Shamrock Boy and Tainted Love,             
which are scheduled for release in 2007. Pre-production has also begun on two             
further films, Frail and Winter of Frozen Dreams.                                         
Birch has indicated that she has aspirations 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.                     
Thora will star in the 2008 film Train alongside her brother Bolt Birch. It               
tells about a trip to Europe of a group of American college athletes unknowingly         
board a train that will become one deadly ride. Thora has also been negotiating           
to have a part in Frail (2009) drama film. She reportedly plays Chloe, a                 
mysterious young, naive girl from the midwest. Her character and a cynical,               
aging private-eye struggle to come to terms with their dark pasts.