Birth Date: March 11, 1982
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA
Height: 5' 4"
Quote: "For me, romance isn't an over-the-top act. It's someone offering to help and to support me. Or if that person thinks I'm making the wrong decision, he'll tell me. I want him to be honest, because being that honest takes a lot of guts."
Thora Birch's unique first name was given to her when her gender came as a surprise to her parents: having picked the Norse god of thunder, Thor, as the namesake for the boy they anticipated, Jack and Carol Birch were forced to improvise on March 11, 1982, when they had a girl. While they resolved this quandary in a rather unlikely manner the end product proved to be a suitable name for a child who would undergo an uncommon upbringing.
It is not rare that someone being raised in Los Angeles be exposed to certain aspects of the entertainment industry, but Thora was privy to a side of Hollywood that even most insiders are denied. Both her parents had performed in a number of adult films (her mother appeared in 1972's Deep Throat under the name Carol Connors, and the couple had worked together in such features as Sweet Savage and Candy Goes to Hollywood), and while it is doubtful that Thora would have been brought along for any tours of the set, she was afforded the opportunity to meet such characters as Hugh Hefner, a family friend who frequently played host to the Birchs in his mansion.
From a young age, it became clear that Thora was made to pursue the same line of work that her mother and father had followed, although perhaps not in the same genre. A babysitter had noticed Thora's tendency to imitate television commercials, and suggested to the family that she try out for some auditions. Initially reticent because of their knowledge of the difficulties that came with the occupation, Thora's parents were eventually persuaded to show her photos to agents. In 1986, 4-year-old Thora landed her first professional gig, in a California Raisins commercial.
For a toddler, Thora's career took off at a remarkable rate. After appearing in a string of commercials, she was cast in the short-lived television series, Day by Day. At the age of six she made her feature film debut in the children's movie, Purple People Eater, in a role that won her a Youth in Film Award. Two years later, Thora found herself acting with the young Leonardo DiCaprio on another doomed sitcom, Parenthood (a series derived from the 1989 movie of the same name), and in 1991 she beat out 4,000 other hopefuls in winning a part alongside Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson in the film, Paradise.
By the time she was 14, Thora had compiled an impressive professional resume, having appeared in eight feature films between 1991 and 1996. Included among them was the role of Harrison Ford's daughter in 1992's Patriot Games and its 1994 sequel, Clear and Present Danger, as well as the part of a younger version of Melanie Griffith in 1995's Now and Then. In spite of these accolades, 1996 marked a change for the worst in Thora's career. In a development that could perhaps be attributed to Thora's transition into her teenage "awkward" years, the job offers simply stopped coming. Thora opted to take a hiatus from acting, one that lasted three years.
Thora made her return to entertainment with a part in 1999's Night Ride Home, a TV movie that went largely unnoticed. While this role didn't make much of an impact in terms of a comeback, Thora's next one, later that same year as the angst-ridden teen Jane Burnham in American Beauty, certainly did. The film garnered a host of awards and Thora's performance in it was the object of a great deal of critical praise, launching her again into the public eye and onto the calling lists of casting directors.
Thora followed up American Beauty with appearances in The Smokers, The Hole and Dungeons & Dragons, none of which proved to be memorable features. She rebounded with another introspective teen role, that of Enid in 2001's Ghost World, for which she received a Golden Globe nomination, the Best Actress Award at the Seattle International Film Festival and the title of "Actress of the Year" by the Toronto and San Diego Film Critics Societies.
Thora has begun extending her professional experience into producing, and is currently at work behind the TV movie Mata and the feature film Miss Meadows.
Thora Birch Filmography
Frail (2007) .... Chloe
Shamrock Boy (2007) .... Nulla McGarvey
Dark Corners (2006) .... Karen Clarke/Susan Hamilton
Tainted Love (2006) .... Mia
Slingshot (2005) .... April
The Dot (2004) (voice) .... Narrator
Silver City (2004) .... Karen Cross
Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003) (TV) .... Liz Murray
"Night Visions" .... Susan Thornhill (1 episode, 2002)
Shadow Realm (2002) (TV) .... Susan Thornhill
Ghost World (2001) .... Enid
The Hole (2001) .... Liz Dunn
... aka After the Hole (USA)
Dungeons & Dragons (2000) .... Empress Savina
... aka Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie (UK: promotional title)
The Smokers (2000) .... Lincoln Roth
Anywhere But Here (1999) (uncredited) .... Mary
American Beauty (1999) .... Jane Burnham
Night Ride Home (1999) (TV) .... Clea Mahler
"Touched by an Angel" .... Erin (1 episode, 1997)
"Promised Land" .... Allison Rhodes (1 episode, 1997)
... aka Home of the Brave
Alaska (1996) .... Jessie Barnes
Now and Then (1995) .... Teeny
"The Outer Limits" .... Aggie Travers (1 episode, 1995)
... aka The New Outer Limits (USA: promotional title)
Blackbird Hall (1995) (TV)
Clear and Present Danger (1994) .... Sally Ryan
Monkey Trouble (1994) .... Eva
... aka Pet
"Monty" .... Ann Sherman (1 episode, 1994)
Hocus Pocus (1993) .... Dani
Patriot Games (1992) .... Sally Ryan
The Itsy Bitsy Spider (1992) (voice) .... Additional Voices
All I Want for Christmas (1991) .... Hallie O'Fallon
Paradise (1991) .... Billie Pike
"Amen" .... Brittany (1 episode, 1991)
"Married People" .... Emily (1 episode, 1990)
Dark Avenger (1990) (TV) .... Susie Donovan
"Parenthood" (1990) TV Series .... Taylor Buckman (unknown episodes)
"Doogie Howser, M.D." .... Megan (1 episode, 1989)
"Day by Day" .... Molly (19 episodes, 1988-1989)
Purple People Eater (1988) .... Molly Johnson
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