Over on The Guardian, entertainment reporter Hadley Freeman talks with Thora Birch about the trajectory of her career, from Golden Globe nominated actress in popular films like Ghost World and American Beauty to, most recently, being fired from an off-Broadway play she got fired from after her father/manager physically threatened another actor. It’s a fascinating piece, and the discussion in it mostly revolves around what happened to Birch’s career, and what she’s doing to get it back.
Birch herself is very blunt, defensive, and a little sour, and based on her own statements, it’s easy to understand why her career has vanished, having been fired from movies like Election and having found difficulty landing jobs in movies that people actually see (she has actually been working for most of the past decade, just not in anything you’ve heard of).
I pissed a lot of people off over a long period of time and they found a way to upset me, hoping that upset would bring a change in my behaviour. Like a distancing … But I’m done, I’m done. People wanted me to be not fine. A lot of it was bullshit.”
Has she felt that for a long time that people are trying to get her, that they’re angry with her?
Why are they angry?
“Because I should just shut up.”
Because she’s a young woman? Because she’s an actor?
“All of it.”
Her career problems aren’t entirely as a result of her own self-described bad reputation. Ghost World represented a kind of transition for Hollywood from the grunge era when actresses like Birch or Juliette Lewis were popular into an era where more traditional looking actresses like Scarlett Johansson were popular again. She didn’t want to play along.
“I tried to walk a fine line between being alluring and somewhat glamorous but maintain a strong identity and pursue things that were a little more thoughtful, and I guess nobody really wanted women to do that at that time,” she says.
Did she feel people were trying to make her into something she wasn’t? “I just felt like I was making people angry, because I wouldn’t wear the frilly bows. I just didn’t take advice and I think people got pissed off at me for not taking advice.”
Her attitude toward Johannson, who apparently scooped up all the parts that Birch rejected back in the day, isn’t exactly warm, either.
Birch screws up her face: “I don’t know. Look at her. Whatever,” she says in a “like duh” tone. “I still love her, we were kids together …”
The entire interview is a great read, and definitely worth checking out, if only to see how the careers of young stars can be throttled, not by drugs and scandals, but by changing times, an unwillingness to compromise, and simply rubbing people the wrong way.