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netribution > features > interview with thora birch > page two
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Do you think that part of your groundedness comes from the fact that your success has been gradual? It is not like you became a star overnight.
I think that comes out of being purely unaware. And then when you get any sort of hint of it, or when you get a lot of it, it's just too shocking. You're like, 'What's this? What's going on?' especially if you've only done a few things. And that's why I'll say again anything that kind of happens to me I wouldn't be shocked because I started when I was 41/2 and have been a witness to a lot of things, people coming and going.

Is there anything that you've seen that has been a lesson to you and made you think that that's not a road you're going to go down?
I think everyone paid attention to River [Phoenix]. Still today articles are written. That was a tragedy. I can see in a 100 years a great play being made out of that.

It seems to me that River could not be helped because he wasn't honest about himself to other people.
With other people and himself. But yet when other people are not honest with themselves or other people, it is usually still in a different way than River was because he wasn't overall an unintelligent person. He was absolutely brilliant. He wasn't stupid. So that's why it's really hard to swallow. It's not like, Oh this kid was asking for it. He is so dumb, he is so naive or so full of himself, so egotistical. In some way it is very hard to lay the blame on him, it is very hard to do, purely because you're like what? How? It's one of those things that makes you go how? If I had to pick somebody else that is completely outside me that I don't know teaching me anything or showing me any kind of lesson, I'd have to go for that.

Have you come into contact with the darker side of the industry personally?
I've kind of avoided it but, yeah, I've seen a little bit of it. It is ugly. It's a very unattractive side of Hollywood and even more so because the people in that area think they're really cool, they think they're so great and that they're really hot and that they're the really in Hollywood. It's kind of bemusing but sad at the same time.

Do you have friends outside the business?
Yeah. Some have abandoned me, though, they've gone off to college. But I still have friends outside the business.

Do you regret not going to college?
At first I deeply regretted it but then I came to realise that a lot of people only go to college for the social aspect of it and that I wouldn't be going for that anyway, I'd only be going for the education. And I can still get my liberal education by taking classes or making sure I read. And that's all I was interested in college for really, the access to really good books and the fact that it forces you to write. College not only forces you to read the books but write something about it. I enjoy writing, and I've never been able to stay very structured in my writing. I'll start and I'll go off on some freestyle 20 page thing, so college interested me in giving me structure in my writing.

I've read you'd like to direct, would you also like to write screenplays?
If I could. Dialogue is a really, really difficult art to master and I have so much respect for people such as Allan Ball and Charlie Kaufman who manage to write just the most realistic, fantastic dialogue ever, and I just don't know how they do it. So I would never really, really push something that I felt was not close to what it should be or what I feel it being. I wouldn't push it whereas with directing I could see myself handling it. Even though it would be a lot more work and a lot more stress, I could see myself maybe handling that a little bit better.

While it's probably too early to say, can you see the kind of thing you'd like to direct?
I suspect that to start I would try something - but its not like I'm going to wake up tomorrow and say, 'You know what? I'm not going to act anymore I'm going to start directing' No, this is like five or maybe more years down the line. But I suspect that I would probably opt to start with something character-driven and maybe even a play converted to film.

What directors inspire you in that direction?
I would say Mike Nichols, Michael Mann, Soderbergh - his Traffic style stuff - and Wilder maybe, if I went the comedy route. It still has that tone of comedy films but it lets its characters do zany things, which I like. The film itself and the way it's shot and the way its made, the look of it, isn't zany, it's the people in it that are. I like that difference.

Would you like to do outright comedy?
Oh yeah, I'd love to. I'm ready to go for a romantic comedy like tomorrow. Seriously.

You'd like to go down the Sandra Bullock/Meg Ryan route?
Oh yeah, I love it. I can't wait.

Have you had any offers along those lines?

I'm not surprised because onscreen you're far edgier than that.
But I want to do it. I'm serious, I want to be the sweetheart [giggles].

Going back to the grounding thing, what has been the major grounding influence in your life?
Family. I think at the end of the day that's the only thing that keeps anyone grounded. Ma, pa and bro.

How old is your brother?

And is he in the business?
Not yet, we'll see. He'll decide if he wants to or not.

This is your first seven-figure movie. That must make it harder to keep your feet on the ground, when you consider that, at 19, you have earned more for one movie than most people will ever see in their entire life.
Um, I started to realise that when people get a certain amount or when it's publicly noted that they get a certain amount of money, they're actually getting a lot less. First up, the more you make the higher the tax bracket you're put in, therefore the more you get taken away. Plus we have a lot of people working for us that also demand a lot of money. Managers, lawyers, this and that, there's a whole team that has to get paid, because they deserve it. So when you hire someone like a Julia Roberts or a Jim Carrey, which I'm not them, you're hiring a company. It's like hiring a company. You don't just get Julia Roberts, you get every other thing that she brings and all the things she has to take care of; her agent, her manager, her taxes, all of that. So while it might seem like a ridiculous amount of money that we're so lucky to have - we are very lucky to have it - it's not as much as people kind of think. And once you reach that, I think something clicks in your mind that's like, 'Wow, I hope I don't really have to step down from this for a little while because this is kind of nice'.

How is the SAG strike going to affect you?
Overall I don't think it's going to be so bad. It's going to happen but I don't think it will be so bad because a) a lot of actors will be able to sign interim agreements, so that will be okay, but at the end of the day I don't know we'll see. It could go on for a while, it could end very quickly, but it's serious stuff. It's put all of Hollywood in a very bizarre mood. A very bizarre mood.

Do you have a boyfriend at the moment because I was reading that you were rather fond of an Englishman?
Everyone says that to me but I don't remember this person. But I don't have anyone at the moment, I'm in-between. I just broke up with someone. I'm on the hunt again.

After seeing you in The Hole men might be a little wary of you.
Yeah, I might be single for a while.


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