Thora Birch's creepy ex-porn star dad gets her fired
It hasn’t been easy being Thora Birch, whose career since her breakout turns in American Beauty and Ghost World has lately tapered into a string of questionable choices. But things might be a tad easier for her were it not for her dad-slash-manager Jack Birch, a former adult film star (he and Birch’s mother, Carol Connors, were both in Deep Throat) whose insistence on being present at his daughter’s every performance has been noted as overbearing at best and creepy at worst.
Most recently, there was the incident where Jack insisted on giving the cameraman pointers while Birch filmed a sex scene in last year’s Winter Of Frozen Dreams, which one insider describing thusly: “The director is saying, ‘Harder! Faster!’ and the father is giving [her co-star Dean] Winters the thumbs up.” However, Jack soon rescinded that seal of approval, reportedly freaking out and threatening to “kill the assistant directors” and “pull her from the movie with three days of shooting left”—a story that doesn’t exactly encourage other directors to want to work with Birch, so long as she and her dad are a package deal.
Today’s report in the New York Times probably isn’t going to help that perception: Birch has now been fired from an Off-Broadway production of Dracula (where she was playing Lucy) and ordered to “leave the theater immediately.” This all happened a mere four days before the show’s scheduled debut, reportedly because her father had threatened one of the actors. According to the show’s director, Paul Alexander:
Mr. Birch asked the actor why he was rubbing Ms. Birch’s back during the scene. The actor—whom none of the sides would name—said that he had been directed to do so as part of the scene. Mr. Birch objected, saying that the back rub was unnecessary, and told the actor to stop. (It is unusual for anyone other than a production’s director to instruct an actor.)
When the actor tried to explain further what he was doing, Mr. Birch said, according to Mr. Alexander: “Listen, man, I’m trying to make this easier on you—don’t touch her.”
Mr. Alexander said the actor felt uncomfortable with Mr. Birch’s directive and tone. Asked if the actor felt threatened, Mr. Alexander said, “I can’t have one of my actors in a situation where he is physically threatened by the father of anyone.”
However, according to Jack, he was just “trying to convey Thora’s discomfort,” and “in no way was I making a threat.” Instead, he claims that producers told him the reason Birch had been let go was that Alexander had been dissatisfied with his daughter’s performance, despite the fact that, by Jack’s own admission, Alexander had never once expressed any reservations during rehearsals—which is certainly strange! (Birch herself said she was “blindsided” by the decision.)
Of course, it wasn’t just about the threat: As in the past, Birch’s father was once again a constant, looming presence during rehearsals, with Alexander noting that one time they were running through a scene set in a library when he noticed Jack on stage, peering through one of the windows. But Jack said this was all perfectly reasonable, as at that moment he was backstage examining a “loose, wobbly platform” as a potential safety hazard, because not only was he serving as Birch’s moral support and manager—he was acting as her contractually obligated bodyguard, because “Thora had had some stalking issues in the past.” Right, and there’s nothing more disruptive or unsettling than some guy watching your every move, and constantly trying to insinuate his life into yours like some sort of crazy person.