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Thora Birch

July 21, 1997

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Fourteen year old Thora Birch, star of the recent Alaska movie, (and many others!), is definitely not a stuck-up Hollywood actress. Not only was she comfortable and relaxed durng the interview, (unlike nameless celebrities who act on guard and aloof), but when I realized - after hanging up - that the tape machine hadn't recorded our wonderful conversation, she was very gracious about doing the whole thing over again. Oh, yes, she answered all my questions a second time without talking quickly, or sounding exasperated. And she talked just like an old friend, not like a "big celeb" who just wanted to get the interview over with.

One of the first things we discussed - twice - was Alaska. Thora had good reviews for Alaska, and not just because she starred in it. "Little kids are going to fall in love with the polar bear I costarred with," she laughed. "And it has a lot of excitement and adventure. I loved my character because she was really confident, and she brought out the tomboy in me."

Alaska scenes where Birch and her movie brother go kayaking, or mountain climbing , in search of their dad, a lost pilot, brought out the tomboy in her. Thora admits it was a little scary. "There was this one scene where we were kayaking, and even thought we'd had a month of training for it, it was still kind of new to me. It was a really windy day, and I was so scared we were going to flip. Fortunately, we didn't . (There were people ready to jump in if they did flip!) I really liked doing the stuntwork, and I did as much of it as they would let me!"

Another recent acting role in which she did an incredible job, was in an Outer Limits episode. Portraying a girl who could move things with her eyes because she had an extra chromosome was fun for Thora, who learned much from the experience. "I thought I would love to have her powers, for things like making my bed, but the girl I play hates having her powers because they make her so different. She has no friends - just a lot of anger inside her. For the time that I did the show, I tried to just BECOME her, and understand her."

Birch has become a freshman in high school, and has a nifty way of going to school via an independence study course, which involves her computer. "The independence study course is good becuase you can go at your own pace. You don't have to wave your hand in the air for an hour just to get your teacher's attention. We do it with email and all the modern technology stuff, and it's just great," she exclaimed enthusiastically.

Although Birch has friends in the acting business, not all her friends are actors. "I have friends who are normal people that I've known all my life. Some of them don't even ask me about my acting jobs anymore. But on the other hand , acting is a great way to meet new people, and make new friends," she related.

While on the subject of friends , Birch told me about her boyfriend. According to Birch, he is just "a regular, small town boy" . She continued, "He's really cute, and knows how to make me laugh."

But Birch doesn't consider her career a laughing matter. She is serious about acting, and can't imagine ever giving it up. However, she does want to broaden her horizons, and maybe try directing and writing as well. In the meantime, see her trooping on the Alaskan horizon in the movie Alaska , and remember what a nice , normal person she really is.

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