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Thora Birch

Thora Birch

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Also Known As: James Benson Died:
Born: March 11, 1982 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession: actor

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

A pretty, rambunctious child actress who began acting in commercials at the age of four, Thora Birch appeared opposite Wilford Brimley (in 14 Quaker Oats spots) and Jimmy Stewart (for Campbell's Soup), not to mention turning up in the "Just Say No" to drugs campaign. Early in her career, when she was a pretty blonde moppet, she was billed simply as 'Thora' in such efforts as her regular series roles in "Day by Day" (NBC, 1988-89) and "Parenthood" (NBC, 1990) and for her feature acting debut "Purple People Eater" (1988). The tot utilized her full name in the role that first attracted real attention, the precocious young neighbor of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith in "Paradise" (1991), which she followed with the hollow holiday-themed "All I Want for Christmas" (also 1991). Birch went on to portray Harrison Ford's daughter in the thriller "Patriot Games" (1992), then appeared as one of three children who must contend with a trio of witches in the Disney comedy "Hocus Pocus" (1993).

A pretty, rambunctious child actress who began acting in commercials at the age of four, Thora Birch appeared opposite Wilford Brimley (in 14 Quaker Oats spots) and Jimmy Stewart (for Campbell's Soup), not to mention turning up in the "Just Say No" to drugs campaign. Early in her career, when she was a pretty blonde moppet, she was billed simply as 'Thora' in such efforts as her regular series roles in "Day by Day" (NBC, 1988-89) and "Parenthood" (NBC, 1990) and for her feature acting debut "Purple People Eater" (1988). The tot utilized her full name in the role that first attracted real attention, the precocious young neighbor of Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith in "Paradise" (1991), which she followed with the hollow holiday-themed "All I Want for Christmas" (also 1991). Birch went on to portray Harrison Ford's daughter in the thriller "Patriot Games" (1992), then appeared as one of three children who must contend with a trio of witches in the Disney comedy "Hocus Pocus" (1993).

Filmographyclose complete filmography

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Lancelot (2012)
2.
3.
 Train (2009)
5.
 Deadline (2009)
6.
 Dark Corners (2006)
7.
 Slingshot (2005)
8.
 Silver City (2004) Karen Cross
10.
 Ghost World (2001) Enid
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1986:
Began acting in commercials at age four, including the "Just Say No" to drugs campaign and 14 Quaker Oatmeal commercials opposite Wilford Brimley
1988:
Played Molly on short-lived NBC comedy series, "Day by Day", billed as Thora
1988:
Film debut in "Purple People Eater"
1990:
Had featured role in the short-lived NBC sitcom "Parenthood", based on the popular movie
1990:
Appeared in the CBS action pilot "Dark Avenger"
1991:
Played first major role as Billie in "Paradise", starring Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith; first billing using full name
1992:
Portrayed Harrison Ford's daughter in "Patriot Games"
1993:
Acted in "Hocus Pocus", starring Bette Midler, Sarah Jessica Parker and Kathy Najimy
1994:
Reprised role as Ford's daughter in "Clear and Present Danger"
1994:
First starring role in "Monkey Trouble", with Harvey Keitel as a gypsy who'd been using the monkey to pick pockets and Mimi Rogers as her mother
1995:
Was in the ensemble cast of "Now and Then"; first teenage role in films; her character would grow up to be Melanie Griffith
1996:
Starred in the adventure flick "Alaska"
1997:
Made guest appearances on "Touched By an Angel" and "Promised Land" (both CBS)
1999:
Had featured role in the CBS "Hallmark Hall of Fame" presentation "Night Ride Home"
1999:
Co-starred as the petulant, mixed-up daughter of Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening in "American Beauty"
1999:
Made uncredited appearance in "Anywhere But Here"
2000:
Played Empress Savina in "Dungeons & Dragons: The Movie", based on the popular role-playing game
2000:
Acted in "Smokers", set at the posh Lindenhurst Academy in the Midwest; screened at the Santa Barbara Film Festival
2001:
Starred opposite Scarlett Johansson as Enid, an ultra-hip, recent high school graduate trying to find herself, in "Ghost World", produced by John Malkovich and his production company Mr. Mudd
2001:
Played lead in the thriller "The Hole"; released in the United Kingdom
2003:
Starred in the true Lifetime story "Homeless to Harvard"; received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie
2004:
Cast in John Sayles┬┐ political satire "Silver City" which starred Chris Cooper, Kris Kristofferson, Daryl Hannah and Richard Dreyfuss
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Notes

Her parents were expecting a boy, whom they would have named Thor. Instead, they added an "a" to feminize Thor, learning later that Thora is actually a Norse goddess, the sister of Thor and ruler of Thursday.

Birch holds a blue belt in karate.

Her official fan Web site is at thora.org.

"At 24 I want to be a director. Then I want to go into ice skating for a year and then be a cop for year and then I would like to go back to directing and then I would like to be a singer." --Thora Birch quoted in Los Angeles Times, September 28, 1991.

On changing the world: "I think we should decompress it, knock it down, and then restructure the whole thing from the bottom up again. Recently there was something on the news about how amphibians are becoming extinct and it caught me off guard how much I was upset by it. One of my friends said, 'You're nuts crying about a freaking lizard!' But at the time, it just messed me up." --Birch to Dominique Swain in Interview, October 1999.

"She does not give of herself easily. She is not good at presenting herself as a package. You really have to burrow quite deep with Thora. But then it was that sense of hidden depths that was so fascinating to me." --"American Beauty" director Sam Mendes quoted in The Daily Telegraph, November 24, 2001.

Mendes defended Birch to The Daily Telegraph reporter Emma Forrest when Forrest had a difficult interview with the actress: "Oh, dear. Thora was in one of those moods. ... Look, she's a complicated girl, a complicated woman now. She has clearly been a troubled soul and I couldn't say what that is about because there is this kind of force field around her that stops you from going there. But that confusion and unease she has about herself is precisely what makes her so fascinating to watch." --From The Daily Telegraph, November 24, 2001.

About her nude scene in "American Beauty": "I wasn't nervous about it. I thought I'd be a mess. But when it came to it, it wasn't a lascivious moment--not titilating." --Birch to London's Evening Standard, January 27, 2000.

"I just pick characters that I fall in love with for some reason. I haven't really given my choices any grand thought in terms of what I'm doing with my career. But you also can't ignore what you're doing career-wise. I'd like to play the 'typical' parts. I just haven't done them yet. Maybe I've made a mistake because two of the characters that I've played are troubled. That could be a big mistake, because everyone sees me that way, and I'm not that way." --Birch quoted in Venice, August 2001.

"I don't get pleasure watching my own work, but when other people are affected in a positive way by it, that to me is the highest compliment. It's my job to move people, so when that happens I am supremely happy."-Birch Interview November 2002

"I've sometimes wondered why people, especially in the entertainment industry, maintain this sort of reverence for entertainers from the past. And I think that that passion is sustained because there's an element of the unknown attached to it-the not knowing every aspect of these people or their methods, their likes or dislikes or what they do at home. I think that when that mystery is diminished in an artist, whether it's through seeing so much of them or becoming aware of them on a visual and therefore vaguely physical level, it diminishes that love, and I don't like being part of diminishing that love in my fans' eyes."-Birch Interview November 2002

Family close complete family listing

father:
Jack Birch. Manager. Handles daughter's career.
mother:
Carol Birch.
brother:
Kian Bolt Birch. Born in 1990.

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