Thora Birch
Birth Date:
March 11, 1982
Birth Place:
Los Angeles, California, USA
Famous for:
Her role in 'American Beauty' (1999)
Finished high school through a computer-based correspondence course (East LA)
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American Beauty


"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 a year, and then I would like to go back to directing, and then I would like to be a singer." Thora Birch

Los Angeles native actress Thora Birch first attracted attention when she played Molly Johnson in the children film Purple People Eater (1988), where she was honored the Youth In Film Award for her work in the film. She was next widely recognized for portraying the troubled daughter of Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening in the Oscar-winning film American Beauty (1999). Due to her significant performance, Thora won an Online Film Critics Society Award and a Screen Actors Guild Award.

In 2000, Thora gained phrase for her portrayal of ultra-hip, recent high school graduate Enid, opposite Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi, in Daniel Clowes' Ghost World (2000). Thora's spectacular performance handed her a Seattle International Film Festival award and a San Diego Film Critics Society award, as well as a Golden Globe nomination.

On the small screen, Thora gained recognition after having the title character of Liz Murray in the made-for-television movie Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003). She received an Emmy nomination for her performance in the film.

"We have been e-mailing for almost two years now and he calls me on the phone all the time, but I have never gotten to actually shake his hand. So this is an exciting moment for me!" Thora Birch on Joaquin Phoenix As for her romantic life, Thora, who is featured in Limp Bizkit's video "Eat You Alive," (2003) has a crush on actor Joaquin Phoenix.


Childhood and Family:

In Los Angeles, California, Thora Birch was born on March 11, 1982.

The first daughter of Jack Birch and Carol Birch, Thora has a younger brother named Bolt Birch (actor, born on October 3, 1990). She was raised in a showbiz family (her parents appeared in many adult films in the 1970s).

5'4" Thora, whose name is formed from the name of the Norse God of Thunder and Lightning, Thor, dropped out of high school and later earned her diploma through correspondent school. She has a blue belt in Karate and is an animal lover who has three dogs named Thunder, Herc and Necro. She currently resides in southern California.

Ghost World


Thora Birch displayed the qualities of a potential actress at a very young age. At age four, she began acting in commercials and landed her first professional gig in a California Raisin commercial. She also appeared in commercials for Quaker Oats, Vlasic Pickles, Burger King, as well as the "Just Say No" to drug campaign.

Film work knocked on her door when Thora was only six year old. The young actress landing the significant role of Molly Johnson in the kids' movie Purple People Eater (1988), which also starred Neil Patrick Harris, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Ned Beatty. She netted a Youth In Film Award for Best Actress because of her performance in the film.

In her first sitcom, Thora was cast as Molly, one of the toddlers in NBC's short-lived comedy "Day by Day" (1988-1989), opposite a pre-Seinfeld Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and found herself playing Ed Begley Jr.'s child, Taylor Buckman, with young Leonardo Di Caprio, in the television series based on the 1989 hit film "Parenthood" (1990).

Thora made her television movie debut in the CBS action pilot Dark Avenger (1990).

Thora won her first breakout screen role as Elijah Wood's tomboy friend, Billie Pike, in the family drama Paradise (1991, starring Don Johnson and Melanie Griffith). With director Mary Agnes Donoghue at the helm, Thora received good reviews from critics for her work in the film. She followed it up with such films as All I Want for Christmas (1991), The Itsy Bitsy Spider (1992, provided voice), the big-budget movies Patriot Games (1992) and its sequel Clear and Present Danger (1994, played the role of Harrison Ford's daughter) and Hocus Pocus (1993, starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler and Kathy Najimy).

She landed her first starring role in the family film Monkey Trouble (1994), along side Harvey Keitel and Mimi Roger.

Venturing to a teenage role, Thora costarred with several up-and-comers including Christina Ricci, Gaby Hoffmann, Devon Sawa and Ashleigh Aston Moore, playing the part of younger version of Melanie Griffith in Now and Then (1995). She played the lead Jessie Barnes in the adventure flick Alaska (1996, opposite heartthrob Vincent Kartheiser) and landed guest starring roles in "Promised Land" and "Touched by an Angel" (1997).

"I was just so happy working with that cast and with such great material, but honestly I was not sure how people would react to it, apart from some critical attention, but I had no idea how the general audience would react." Thora Birch on American Beauty

After taking somewhat of a break from acting, Thora made her return with a little seen television film Night Ride Home (1999) before she drew mass attention portraying teen Jane Burnham in the dark, Oscar-winning film American Beauty (1999). Aside from receiving rave reviews, Thora's turn as the rebellious daughter of Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening handed her an Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble (shared with cast members) and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast (Theatrical Motion Picture, shared with cast member) in 1999. Thora's winning performance put her on the map again and on top of the calling list of casting directors. She finished the decade with an unaccredited part in Anywhere But Here (1999), starring Natalie Portman and Susan Sarandon.

"It's this cool psychological thriller where I play a high school graduate who goes through all these different changes in the course of a summer. She's very confused but at the same time has a distinct sense of humor. It's very funny in a dry, acerbic way." Thora Birch on her role in Ghost World

In the new millennium, after a performance in The Smokers (2000), which screened at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, Thora delivered her next breakthrough portraying Enid, an ultra-hip, recent high school graduate who is trying to find herself, in Terry Zwigoff's screen adaptation of Daniel Clowes' notable comic Ghost World (2000, opposite Scarlett Johansson and Steve Buscemi). She was highly praised as Best Actress at the Seattle International Film Festival and the San Diego Film Critics Society for her bravura performance in the film.

Additionally, she received her first nomination at the Golden Globes.

In the fantasy adventure Dungeons and Dragons (2000), Thora starred as good Empress Savina who is trying to save her kingdom from evil Jeremy Irons. She then played Liz Dun in the thriller The Hole (2001) before moving on to the made-for-television film Shadow Realm (2002).

In 2003, Thora turned heads again with her work in the television movie Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story (2003, played Liz Murray), where she received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Miniseries Or A Movie.

The following year saw Thora in Silver City (2004, written and directed by John Sayles) before providing her voice as Narrator in The Dot (2004). The American Beauty star recently was cast as April in the drama Slingshot (2005). She will next serve as an executive producer and star in the forthcoming rock & roll comedy-drama Vinyl (2005), costarring Rosario Dawson and Henry Thomas, and is also scheduled to act in the upcoming Boomerang Deal (2006)


  • Seattle International Film Festival: Best Actress, Ghost World, 2001
  • San Diego Film Critics Society: Best Actress, Ghost World, 2001
  • Young Star: 2000
  • Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by a Cast (Theatrical Motion Picture), American Beauty, shared with cast mates, 1999
  • Online Film Critics Society: Best Ensemble, American Beauty, shared with cast mates, 1999
  • The Actor: 1999
  • Youth in Film: Best Actress, Purple People Eater, 1989
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