Whatever Happened To Thora Birch?

Film Very briefly, until I saw Lost in Translation, Thora Birch was my favourite actress. She was remarkable in The Hole and Ghost World and looked like she was going to have a long and fruitful career. Then she didn't. It was odd. Actresses she played against in smaller roles like Scarlett Johansson and Kiera Knightley went on to be stars and she just sort of disappeared.

  Hadley Freeman's interviewed the actress for The Guardian. The purpose seems to be to publicise her last film, Petunia, but otherwise it's just random curiosity. What happened? How did this happen?
"How this happened is not straightforward and it is not really clear if Birch understands it herself, or how she feels about it. Contradictions pepper her conversation. Initially, she talks about how she "decided to take a break and live my life, branch out a little, educate myself". But when I make the mistake of suggesting she "stepped back", she snaps: "It makes me angry when you use that phrase because I didn't step back. I was always working, it's just that no one was paying attention." At times, she has the dazed but anxious air of someone who has just emerged from a long sleep and is astonished at how much time has passed."
Of course its easy to suggest Johansson and Knightley simply decided to do the kinds of roles expected of them at the right time, pay there dues, but both of them have careers which are pretty fraught in terms of choices, it's simply that they've been theoretically luckier. Scarlett had Lost in Translation and The Girl With The Pear Earing out in 2003 (when Birch had the TV movie Homeless to Harvard: The Liz Murray Story) but the next, 2004, brought The Perfect Score, A Love Song For Bobby Long, In Good Company and A Good Woman none of which were necessarily box office. But the next year had Match Point and The Island which arguably set her screen identity and although in every year there's been the odd dud there's also been gold. 2008 brought The Spirit which is the kind of thing which could end a career and Vicky Cristina Barcelona which is the kind of thing which makes them.

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