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Birch in 2006
|Born|| March 11, 1982 |
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Birch in 2006
|Born|| March 11, 1982 |
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Thora Birch (born March 11, 1982) is an American actress. She was a child actor in the 1990s, starring in movies such as All I Want for Christmas (1991), Patriot Games (1992), Hocus Pocus (1993), Monkey Trouble (1994), Now and Then (1995), and Alaska (1996). She came to prominence in 1999 after earning worldwide attention and praise for her performance in American Beauty. She then starred in the well received film Ghost World (2001), which earned her a Golden Globe nomination.
Birch was born in Los Angeles, California, the eldest child of Jack Birch and Carol Connors. Her parents, who were her business managers from the start, are former adult film actors and both appeared in the pornographic film Deep Throat. Birch is of German Jewish, Nordic, and Italian ancestry. The family's original surname was Biersch. Her name Thora is derived from the name of the Norse God of thunder and lightning, Thor. She has a younger brother, Bolt.
Due to their own experience with acting, Birch's parents were reluctant to encourage her in the profession, but were persuaded to show her photograph to agents by a babysitter who noticed her imitating commercials. She had several parts in the late '80s, including advertisements for Burger King, California Raisins, Quaker Oats, and Vlasic Pickles.
In 1988, she landed the role of Molly in the short-lived television series Day By Day. She was billed simply as "Thora". That same year, she won a part in the movie Purple People Eater opposite Ned Beatty and Neil Patrick Harris. Her performance won her a Youth In Film Award. Birch played as 'tomboy' Billie Pike in the movie Paradise, which also starred Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith, and Elijah Wood.
Birch's parts during the period of 1991–1995 included the role of Dani in Hocus Pocus (1993), as well as All I Want for Christmas (1991) and Monkey Trouble (1994). She appeared in two Harrison Ford films, Patriot Games (1992) and its sequel, Clear and Present Danger (1994), where she played Sally Ryan, the daughter of Ford's character Jack Ryan. Birch's performance in the 1995 film Now and Then teamed her with Gaby Hoffmann, Christina Ricci, Demi Moore, Rosie O'Donnell, and Melanie Griffith.
In 1996, she landed a leading role in the adventure film, Alaska (1996). After guest-starring appearances in The Outer Limits, Promised Land, and Touched by an Angel, Birch took a break from acting. 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.
Later in 1999, Birch won 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 16 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. They and child labor representatives were on the set for the shooting of the scene.
After leading roles in The Smokers (2000), Dungeons & Dragons (2000), and The Hole (2001), Birch landed the leading role in Ghost World (2001), alongside Scarlett Johansson, Steve Buscemi, and Brad Renfro. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance.
Birch played Liz Murray in the made-for-TV movie Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003), for which she received an Emmy nomination  and she appeared as Karen in Silver City (2004). She starred in the films Dark Corners, in which she appeared in the lead role, and Train.
In 2009, she starred alongside Brittany Murphy in the horror film Deadline and appeared in Winter of Frozen Dreams. In January 2010, Birch played Sidney Bloom in the Lifetime movie, The Pregnancy Pact.
Birch was cast and scheduled to make her American stage debut in the off Broadway revival of Dracula, but was fired for reasons apparently involving her father's interference four days before the show's first performance.
|1988||Purple People Eater||Molly Johnson||Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress Under Nine Years of Age|
|1991||All I Want for Christmas||Hallie O'Fallon||Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Leading Actress – Motion Picture|
|1992||Patriot Games||Sally Ryan||Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress Under Ten – Motion Picture|
|1992||The Itsy Bitsy Spider||Leslie (voice)|
|1994||Clear and Present Danger||Sally Ryan|
|1994||Monkey Trouble||Eva Gregory|
|1995||Now and Then||Young Tina "Teeny" Tercell|
|1996||Alaska||Jessie Barnes||Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Leading Actress – Feature Film|
|1999||American Beauty||Jane Burnham||Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast|
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
Young Artist Award for Best Young Supporting Actress – Feature Film
Young Hollywood Award for Best On-screen Chemistry shared with Wes Bentley
Young Star Award for Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture Drama
Nominated—BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
Nominated—Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Supporting Actress – Drama
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Supporting Actress
|1999||Anywhere but Here||Mary (uncredited)|
|2000||The Smokers||Lincoln Roth|
|2000||Dungeons & Dragons||Empress Savina||Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Supporting Actress – Feature Film|
|2001||The Hole||Liz Dunn|
|2001||Ghost World||Enid||Deauville Film Festival – Best Female Performance|
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Seattle International Film Festival Award for Best Actress
Toronto Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Dressed
Nominated—MTV Movie Award for Best Line
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast
Nominated—Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy
|2003||Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story||Liz Murray|
|2004||Silver City||Karen Cross|
|2004||The Dot||Narrator (voice)|
|2006||Dark Corners||Karen Clarke/Susan Hamilton|
|2009||Winter of Frozen Dreams||Barbara Hoffman|
|Day by Day||Molly||21 episodes|
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress Ensemble – Comedy or Drama Series
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Actress Under Nine Years of Age
|1989||Doogie Howser, M.D.||Megan||Episode: "Vinnie Video Vici" (Credited As "Thora")|
|1990||Dark Avenger||Susie Donovan||TV movie|
|1990||Married People||Emily||Episode: "To Live and Drive in New York"|
|Parenthood||Taylor Buckman||12 episodes|
Nominated—Young Artist Award for Best Young Supporting Actress – Television Series
|1991||Amen||Brittany||Episode: "Nothing Says Lovin'..."|
|1992||The Secret World of Spying||Sally Ryan||TV movie|
|1994||Monty||Ann Sherman||Episode: "Here Comes the Son"|
|1995||Blackbird Hall||TV movie|
|1995||The Outer Limits||Aggie Travers||Episode: "The Choice"|
|1997||Promised Land||Allison Rhodes||Episode: "Running Scared"|
|1997||Touched by an Angel||Erin||Episode: "The Pact"|
|1999||Night Ride Home||Clea Mahler||TV movie|
|2002||Night Visions||Susan Thornhill||Episode: "The Maze"|
|2003||Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story||Liz Murray||TV movie|
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
|2005||My Life as a Teenage Robot||Vega (voice)||Episode: "Escape from Cluster Prime"|
|2010||The Pregnancy Pact||Sidney Bloom||TV movie|
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