Actress. Born on March 11, 1982, in Los Angeles, California. Over the course of her short lifetime, Birch as come-of-age on film, graduating from roles in traditional, child-actor fare to playing layered, complex characters.
Named after the Norse god Thor, Birch began acting at the age of four in a series of commercials for California raisins. Other commercial work soon followed and by 1988, she had landed her first film role. Playing Molly in the family feature Purple People Eater, Birch won a Youth in Film Award. She then appeared in a television series based on the popular Steve Martin film Parenthood. Although the series was short-lived, it was clear that Birch’s career had just begun.
In the 1990s, Birch made appearances in an impressive list of Hollywood productions, including a recurring role as Harrison Ford’s daughter in the adaptations of several Tom Clancy novels– Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994). She earned her first starring role in Monkey Trouble (1994), a family film concerning the antics of a precocious primate.
Birch got her big break in American Beauty (1999), the Oscar-winning exploration of suburban anxiety. She received rave reviews for her portrayal of Jane Burnham, the dour, alienated daughter of two mid-life-crisis ridden parents (played by Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening).
Her dramatic credibility established, Birch courted the independent ranks with a starring role in Terry Zwigoff’s Ghost World (2001). Playing opposite Steve Buscemi, Birch won a Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of Enid, a recent high-school graduate who battles with the mundane offerings of her strip-mall landscape.