'90s kids remember when Thora Birch was a household name. Now 31, she won our hearts as kids with movies like Monkey Trouble and Alaska, and then moved onto what seemed like an amazing career as an adult! She starred in the Oscar-devastating film American Beauty opposite Kevin Spacey and Mena Suvari as the troubled, brunette daughter of Kevin Spacey's man in the throes of a midlife crisis, and then channeled our angst once again in the comic book adaptation Ghost World. We so expected to see her around more — so what happened?
Her career's slow decline fell under the radar, but thanks to humor site Cracked pointing it out to us, we can see what probably happened: her dad didn't butt out, even when she filmed sex scenes.
Thora's parents, Jack and Carol Connors, were porn stars, both stars of the 1970s classic Deep Throat. We're not sure whether they actually met on the set or not, but in 1982, Thora was born. Her parents served as her managers at first, which seems to have worked out fine for Thora as a child actress. But once she hit adulthood, business hit the fan.
Thora was 17 in American Beauty, so the law dictated that her dad had to stick around when she went topless. But again, while filming 2009's Winter of Frozen Dreams, Thora was doing a sex scene with Dean Winters (Dennis Duffy from 30 Rock, Olivia's boyfriend whose name is irrelevant on Law & Order: SVU), and her dad not only insisted on being present on the closed set, but butted in and started directing the scene... and gave Dean a thumbs-up.
Yes, your mental image is about right. 26-year-old Thora was filming a sex scene, and her dad gave Dennis Duffy a thumbs-up. And to make things more awkward, the scene took 14 takes to film.
A crewmember's description of the scene is pretty terrifying: "all of a sudden, the front door is being kicked in. Her father was threatening to kill the assistant directors. Then he threatens to pull her from the movie with three days of shooting left."
After that, things started to go downhill. She was fired from the Off-Broadway revival of Dracula... not because of her, but because of Jack. The New York Times reports that "Ms. Birch was fired because her father, Jack, had threatened another actor during a rehearsal on Thursday night."
The incident stemmed from a co-star rubbing Thora's back. Thora, the full-grown, 28-year-old adult. "According to [the director], who was told of the incident afterward by the actor, Mr. Birch asked the actor why he was rubbing Ms. Birch’s back during the scene. The actor – whom none of the sides would name – said that he had been directed to do so as part of the scene. Mr. Birch objected, saying that the back rub was unnecessary, and told the actor to stop. When the actor tried to explain further what he was doing, Mr. Birch said, according to Mr. Alexander: 'Listen, man, I’m trying to make this easier on you – don’t touch her.'"
While Jack insists he was "trying to convey Thora's discomfort," all other accounts of the scene seem to contradict that.
One last gasp for Thora having a super-awesome career: she replaced Lindsay Lohan in the indie horror flick Manson Girls. And what does her dad do? If you said "lean back and wish his daughter luck on her new gig," you were, unfortunately, wrong.
Director Susanna Lo told Planet Fury that Thora is "a great actress," but "there have been several problems with her father/manager that make it too difficult to work things out in an ensemble cast situation where everything needs to be balanced and fair to the whole cast. You can quote me on that."
Her last two credits are an upcoming Bratz film, plus the Lifetime movie The Pregnancy Pact.
So there you have it: Thora Birch's dad is a terrible manager. And it's hard to fire your dad even if he's not crazy.
Should Thora have fired her dad? Do you miss seeing her all over the big screen?