Christina Ricci, Kirsten Dunst, and Thora Birch were some of the most in-demand actresses to close out the 90s. Ricci and Dunst have been acting ever since, and have also seen a huge rebirth of their careers in recent years.
Birch had a successful string of movies across the 90s, and a bit into the 2000s, but then it seemed she softly faded into the background. But was it because Thora had enough of the spotlight, or did Hollywood have enough of Thora?
On March 11th, 1982, in Los Angeles, California, to parents Carol Conners and Jack Birch, both of adult film Deep Throat fame, Thora Birch was born.
She has one younger brother, actor and assistant director Bolt Birch. She grew up on her family’s ranch in East L.A. and completed her high school education via an early form of remote learning by taking her classes on the computer.
Already an acting pro by the age of four thanks to commercials for Burger King, Quaker Oats, and Vlasic Pickles, by six years old she had landed a part in the series Day by Day in 1988.
Later that same year, Thora would win a Young Artist Award for her film debut in the Neil Patrick Harris family-friendly sci-fi movie Purple People Eater.
Birch’s career exploded in the 90s, starting with her role as Sally Ryan in the Harrison Ford-led action thriller Patriot Games.
She would follow that up with everyone’s favorite Halloween movie Hocus Pocus, where she played the annoying little sister Dani Dennison.
In 1994, Thora would reprise her role as Sally Ryan for Clear and Present Danger.
By the mid-90s, movies like Now and Then and Alaska would start to move Birch into more leading roles, and by 1999, with the success of the Oscar-winning American Beauty, Thora was a household name.
Her role as Jane Burnham in the dark dramedy landed her multiple nominations and earned her a SAG award, among others, and poised her career for endless possibilities.
After a few misses and flops, Birch starred in the 2001 black comedy Ghost World, with a cast that included Steve Buscemi, Scarlett Johansson, and Brad Renfro, and would add more nominations and awards to her name.
Instead of using the momentum to pick more mainstream, blockbuster-type movies, Thora would go the independent route, starring in low-end thrillers and crime dramas over the next decade, with a few TV movies and guest appearances thrown in.
Why did Hollywood stop casting her?
Even if they weren’t all hits, Thora had a steady run until around 2010, when she noticeably had fewer roles on TV or feature films.
It happens there’s a reason for that, and that would be her father and manager, Jack.
About to make her off-Broadway debut in Dracula, just days before curtain, there was an altercation between her dad and one of the other actors in the production, which resulted in her being kicked off the show.
This wouldn’t be the first time Thora had trouble on set, as she was fired from the Reese Witherspoon and Matthew Broderick comedy Election in 1999 after only three days, due to differences between her and the director.
A few years after that incident, on the set of The Winter of Frozen Dreams, Thora’s father once again made things uncomfortable when he wanted to be in complete control of his then-25-year-old daughter’s sex scenes. Sounds like she had a Dad-ager problem.
(photo: Fandom Spotlite)
While we may think Thora just wasn’t in anything for a few years, she says we just weren’t paying attention.
In a time before #metoo and the slightest bit of evening out between male and female roles in Hollywood, Thora said she tried to walk that line between bombshell and intelligence, but found roles for that type of female weren’t there.
Birch stated that people tried to steer her here and there, but she didn’t want to hear it, opting to direct her career the way she wanted, which made some people upset.
What is Thora Birch doing now?
Well, Thora did take a tiny step away to regroup and rest, but now is determined to let audiences see the power she can command on screen is here for the long haul.
In 2018 she played Emily in the award-winning movie The Etruscan Smile, and followed that up with a reoccurring role on the hit zombie series The Walking Dead as Gamma.
She fulfilled her lifelong goal when she took on the role of director for the Lifetime movie, The Gabby Petito Story in 2022, which she also acted in.
Having wanted to direct since she was 10, it was nice to see her check that off her list, even if the story matter was less than pleasant.
In 2021, she starred in the small budget disaster movie, 13 Minutes. She appeared in the movie alongside Amy Smart and Anne Heche.
We all know how huge of a hit the Netflix show Wednesday is now, and Thora was originally a part of it all. She was cast – and shot the scenes – in the role as Wednesday’s dorm matron, Tamara Novak, before having to return to the US due to personal reasons and drop out of the project.
This was on top of another recent blow when Birch couldn’t be in Hocus Pocus 2, which hit Disney+ in late 2022.
She had originally planned on being in the sequel, but after some rewrites and other parts shifted, Thora was shooting something else and couldn’t make it to set.
But Thora isn’t letting that derail her comeback. She has one project in post, a drama titled The Midway Point, and one really fun movie in the works, Hurricane Bianca: The Roots of All Evil, where she will get to play the ultimate baddie in the comedy.
Being unapologetically Thora has never looked better. While we wait for her new projects to hit our screens, we’ll give our classic Birch favorites a rewatch.