Thora Birch


11 Mar 1982


Los Angeles, California, USA


For some people, oatmeal starts the day off right - for Thora Birch, it launched a healthy career in front of the camera. It's hard to believe that the actress, who slunk into stardom with her turn as the disillusioned daughter in American Beauty (1999), is even related to the apple-cheeked blonde who once gazed up at Quaker Oats (R) spokesman Wilford Brimley and said, "Mmm-hmm. Yeah, grandpa", but Birch still remembers the professional advice Brimley whispered in her ear: maintain eye contact and *really* listen. Since then, she's had ample opportunity to study some of Hollywood's top talents at work - in addition to her American Beauty (1999) scenes with Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening, she's acted alongside Harrison Ford, Harvey Keitel and Jeremy Irons. Named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder, Thora was born in Los Angeles to Jack Birch and Carol Connors Birch (they kept up the tempestuous theme by naming her younger brother Bolt Birch). By age 4, she was a regular at commercial auditions and, by age 6, she'd landed a spot on the short-lived daycare sitcom Day by Day (1988). Her film career got off to an auspicious start that same year, when she won a Young Artist Award for her debut opposite Neil Patrick Harris in the children's fantasy flick Purple People Eater (1988). After a short break, she picked up a role in another fleeting sitcom, Parenthood (1990) (based on the movie of the same name). By age 9, Birch had her life pretty much figured out - she told the L.A. Times that she planned to become a director by 24, then spend a year ice skating, then spend a year as a policewoman, and, finally, become a singer. She picked up her last name (early appearances credited her as just "Thora") and returned to the big screen as Elijah Wood's tomboy friend in Paradise (1991). She then scored a high-profile supporting role as Harrison Ford's daughter in Patriot Games (1992), which she reprised in Clear and Present Danger (1994). In between, she kept busy with family films Hocus Pocus (1993) and Monkey Trouble (1994). In 1995, Birch graduated into adolescent territory with her turn as a younger Melanie Griffith in Now and Then (1995). She followed that up with a top-billed role in the snowy adventure Alaska (1996), then took a three-year hiatus from acting. She resurfaced in 1999, first in the made-for-TV Night Ride Home (1999) and then, more visibly, in American Beauty (1999). Birch had heard about "Beauty" through the industry grapevine, and she immediately set her sights on the part of "Jane Burnham". As it turned out, she was the first to audition for director Sam Mendes; while he saw dozens of other actresses for the role, none delivered a more convincing "Jane". Still reeling from her sudden celebrity status, Birch plucked a handful of diverse projects from the deluge of post-"Beauty" scripts. Seeking an even edgier adolescent role, she appeared as a punk-rocker in the indie film The Smokers (2000), then dropped the tough-girl pose to play the gentle "Empress Savina" in the live-action adaptation of Dungeons & Dragons (2000). She also signed up to play a teen hipster caught up in a post-high school identity crisis in Ghost World (2001) (based on the graphic novel), and an English schoolgirl in the thriller The Hole (2001). Style-conscious and sophisticated beyond her years, Birch lives on her family's East L.A. ranch (where she recently finished high school through a computer-based correspondence course). She still hopes to try her hand at directing someday, but, for now, she's content to continue blossoming in front of the camera.

Actor ( 61 credits )

The Etruscan Smile (2017) Emily
3 Lives (2017) Emma
Public Affairs (2017)
Colony (2016)  Morgan (2 episodes, 2016)
Petunia (2012) Vivian Petunia
Deadline (2009) Lucy
Winter of Frozen Dreams (2009) Barbara Hoffman
Train (2008) Alex
Dark Corners (2006) Susan Hamilton / Karen Clarke
Tom Green's House Tonight (2006)  Herself / ... (1 episode, 2006)
Slingshot (2005) April
20 to 1 (2005)  Jane Burnham (uncredited) (1 episode, 2007)
Video on Trial (2005)  Herself (1 episode, 2006)
The Girls Next Door (2005)  Herself (uncredited) (1 episode, 2005)
The Dot (2004) Narrator (voice)
Silver City (2004) Karen Cross
Jimmy Kimmel Live! (2003)  Herself / ... (1 episode, 2003)
Punk'd (2003)  Herself (1 episode, 2005)
Celebrities Uncensored (2003)  Herself (uncredited) (1 episode, 2004)
My Life as a Teenage Robot (2003)  Vega (1 episode, 2005)
The John Walsh Show (2002)  Herself / ... (1 episode, 2003)
The Hole (2001) Liz Dunn
Ghost World (2001) Enid
Live Lunch (2001)  Herself - Interviewee (1 episode, 2001)
Dungeons & Dragons (2000) Empress Savina
The Smokers (2000) Lincoln Roth
Night Visions (2000)  Susan Thornhill (1 episode, 2002)
Anywhere But Here (1999) Mary (uncredited)
American Beauty (1999) Jane Burnham
The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn (1999)  Herself (2 episodes, 2000-2001)
The Martin Short Show (1999)  Herself / ... (1 episode, 1999)
Donny & Marie (1998)  Herself / ... (1 episode, 1999)
Alaska (1996) Jessie Barnes
Promised Land (1996)  Allison Rhodes (1 episode, 1997)
The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996)  Herself / ... (1 episode, 1996)
Now and Then (1995) Teeny
The Outer Limits (1995)  Aggie Travers (1 episode, 1995)
Clear and Present Danger (1994) Sally Ryan
Monkey Trouble (1994) Eva
Touched by an Angel (1994)  Erin (1 episode, 1997)
Monty (1994)  Ann Sherman (1 episode, 1994)
Hocus Pocus (1993) Dani
Late Show with David Letterman (1993)  Herself / ... (2 episodes, 2001)
Politically Incorrect (1993)  Herself (1 episode, 2001)
Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993)  Herself (1 episode, 1996)
Patriot Games (1992) Sally Ryan
Gomorron (1992)  Herself (1 episode, 2000)
The Itsy Bitsy Spider (1992) Little Girl (voice)
All I Want for Christmas (1991) Hallie O'Fallon
Paradise (1991) Billie Pike
Parenthood (1990)  Taylor Buckman (12 episodes, 1990-1991)
Married People (1990)  Emily (1 episode, 1990)
Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989)  Megan (1 episode, 1989)
Purple People Eater (1988) Molly Johnson (as Thora)
Day by Day (1988)  Molly (21 episodes, 1988-1989)
Amen (1986)  Brittany (1 episode, 1991)
Headline News (1982)  Herself (uncredited) (1 episode, 2006)
Entertainment Tonight (1981)  Herself (uncredited) (1 episode, 2000)
Hollywood Greats (1977)  Herself (1 episode, 2005)
Above Suspicion (0) Jolene
The Competition (0) Lauren

Producer ( 3 credits )

3 Lives (2017) producer
Petunia (2012) producer
The Competition (0) producer