Thora Renee Birch (born March 11, 1982 in Los Angeles, California) is an American actress who mainly acts in independent films. She is of Jewish, Scandinavian, and Italian descent; the family's original surname was "Biersch", coming from her German Jewish ancestors.
Thora is the first born child of Jack and Carol Birch who also act as her managers. From an early age, Thora was encouraged by her parents to audition for commercials. She landed several parts representing companies such as Quaker Oats and Vlasic Pickles. However, it wasn't until 1988 that her acting career really began when she was cast as Molly in the short-lived television series Day By Day. That same year she played an important role in the movie Purple People Eater opposite Ned Beatty and Neil Patrick Harris for which she won a Youth In Film Award for her performance.
Thora was cast in her first, real break-though role in 1991 when she played Billie Pike in the movie Paradise which also starred Don Johnson, Melanie Griffith and Elijah Wood. She was able to get this role by beating out over 4,000 young hopefuls who auditioned for it. Her ability to portray herself as a young tomboy landed her many parts in movies including Hocus Pocus and the big-budget films Patriot Games in 1992 and its sequel, Clear and Present Danger in 1994. In 1995, Thora was cast in the movie Now and Then which is regarded as Thora's first venture into teenage roles, as opposed to playing only a kid in the movies. In the mid 90s she also made guest-starring appearances on various television shows such as "The Outer Limits", "Promised Land" and "Touched By An Angel".
She took a somewhat of a break from acting but returned in 1999 with the made-for-TV movie Night Ride Home. That same year, she won critical praise by playing Jane Burnham in American Beauty which eventually won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
Thora has indicated that she has aspirations of one day becoming a director. She currently lives in her own home in southern California.
What many consider to be her first adult role came in Sam Mendes's American Beauty (1999) as the troubled Jane Burnham. She was only 16, and thus a minor in the United States, when the movie was made, therefore her parents had to approve of Birch's brief nude scene in the movie. Her parents and child labor representatives were on the set for the shooting of the scene.
Thora Birch's mother was a porn star between the years of 1971-1983, working under the name of Carol Connors. She starred in the infamous porn movie Deep Throat, in the role of the nurse at the doctor's office. Carol starred in 21 porn movies, before she retired in 1983. 
- The name Thora is formed from the name of the Norse god Thor.
- Has one other sibling, a brother named Bolt
- Is a vegetarian
- Has a Blue Belt in Karate
- 2001 - Toronto Film Critics Association Award - Ghost World
- 2000 - Young Star Award - American Beauty
- 2000 - Young Artist Award - American Beauty
- 1994 - Young Artist Award - Hocus Pocus