Thora Birch, the child star behind well known characters in Hocus Pocus and Now and Then has been visibly absent as opposed to the peers she grew up with in the industry. Since one of her cast mates, Gabby Hoffmann has managed to make it make into the spotlight by scoring a role on Girls, Birch’s interview with the Guardian seems extremely timely.
Birch, who was nominated for a Golden Globe for her turn in American Beauty, seemed to disappear after her 1999 role. Although Birch’s interview mainly focused on the ins and outs of growing up in the business, it was her comments on the tragic deaths of colleagues Brittany Murphy and Brad Renfro, that are making the rounds.
As if unprompted, Thora Birch said that she saw the writing on the wall when it came to Brittany Murphy’s demise.
“I’d seen Brittany here and there before and thought she was cute and lovely and all that stuff. But when I worked with her I saw the condition” – she twirls her finger next to her head – “and I thought, that can’t be good.”
Murphy and Birch worked together on the 2009 film Deadline, which turned out to be one of Murphy’s last as the actress was found dead in her bathroom in the same year. Currently there’s an investigation reopened surrounding the cause of her death, which was ordered by Murphy’s father. At the time of her death it was speculated that Murphy died of pneumonia with secondary causes of over-the-counter and prescription medication and anemia. Since then a toxicology report was run that showed Murphy might have been poised as heavy metals showed up on her screen.
Of another child actor Brad Renfro, who died of a heroin overdose in 2008, Thora Birch described her experience working with him on the 2001 film Ghost World.
“I wish I’d said something, like: isn’t there something that should be done, other than a guardian who is not a guardian. “
Of both deaths she alluded that she wasn’t surprised by either because of her time with both stars while working in the industry. Birch said that the fact that their deaths didn’t come as a surprise was, “another problem for me.”
The first problem, according to Birch, was that she didn’t want to oversexualize or dress up for roles.
“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.”
Currently Thora Birch has one project in development called Army Bratz.