Teeny’s spilling the tea! Thora Birch is reflecting back on her time filming the beloved 1995 film Now and Then — but her memories aren’t exactly all warm and fuzzy.
“If I’m being honest, the thing was we were all 12 to 14 years old when we were making that film. And if anybody knows anything about 12 to 14-year-old girls, it doesn’t go well,” the Hocus Pocus actress, 40, exclusively told Us Weekly about the coming-of-age classic on May 5.
Nowadays, however, she has nothing but affection for her former costars. “I love those ladies so much. And, you know, I think we all played our roles perfectly. Gaby [Hoffmann] was Samantha. Christina [Ricci] was Roberta and [Ashleigh Aston Moore] was Chrissy,” she said. “I miss Ashleigh so much.” (Moore tragically died of an accidental heroin overdose in 2007 at age 26.)
In addition to the four younger characters, Now and Then’s cast consisted of some of Hollywood’s biggest heavy hitters at the time, including Rosie O’Donnell, Demi Moore, Rita Wilson and Melanie Griffith in supporting roles as the girl’s older selves.
Set in 1960s Indiana, the film followed a group of 13-year-old’s through a life-changing summer. Birch played Teeny Tarcell, the younger version of Griffiths’ character and a glamorous tween who was “a typical upbringing for actors and pathological liars,” as the movie states.
With sepia-toned nostalgia supported by an outstanding soundtrack that included timeless hits like “Candy Girl” as its backdrop, the film was an instant and unmistakable classic from the minute it reached theatres.
Fans were drawn to the reliability of the friendship between the four girls, who were existing in the short period of time between being a kid and growing up. The teens spent their time kissing boys (including Ricci and Devon Sawa’s second of two movie kisses that same year, the first being in Casper), conducting late-night seances, having uncomfortable discussions of puberty and one of Birch’s personal highlights — taking long bike rides for a fleeting sense of freedom.
“Learning how to ride a bike was probably a highlight. As an L.A. girl, that’s not really part of your experience too much, riding around,” the California native explained. “But for all four of us, I think we really tapped into that sense of enjoying the freedom that these young women had back then. They were able to just get on their bike and drive for, like, two, three miles or something like that. And that was a long journey for them. This was a huge, huge endeavor.”
Prior to playing Teeny in the drama, Birch had a prominent role in the 1993 Halloween classic Hocus Pocus. She played annoying but well-intentioned little sister Dani Dennison to Omri Katz’s Max.
The Screen Actors Guild award winner told Us that while the transition from playing a kid sister to a precocious teenager in the span of two years didn’t seem like a big deal at the time, it is now a “defining moment in my life.”
“When you’re living it, it doesn’t seem like so much. It seems just like, ‘Well, this is life, this is what happens,’” she notes. “But then when you look back, you’re, like, ‘Wow, that was a really beautiful space I was able to live in.’”
While Birch said that there was no chance she will be returning for the Hocus Pocus sequel that is currently in post-production, she is certain the film will be “fabulous.” However, she worries loyal audiences won’t be completely satisfied with the follow-up.
“There were a lot of things that had to fall in line in order to make every fan happy,” the Walking Dead alum explained. “And I don’t think that will happen, but no matter what, I’m so happy that they are revisiting it because the fans have been demanding it for so long. I think the film would be great no matter what, but I won’t be a part of it.”
Birch previously spoke about her interest in returning for the revival, telling HollywoodLife in 2020 that “If they would have me” she would happily come back in some capacity, but cited “scheduling conflicts” to Entertainment Weekly in March 2022 for the reason she ultimately passed.
Right now, Birch is busy with “Overleaper,” the new “espionage thriller” podcast that “tells the story of an American soldier who must stop her doppelganger’s plans to assassinate the President of the United States,” an official synopsis of the show reads.
The Purple People Eaters actress was immediately intrigued by the idea of doing the podcast – not just for the compelling content, but for the illusion of “old Hollywood radio” the concept of podcasting gives its listeners.
“It just kind of appeared in my inbox all of a sudden … and I was like, ‘You had me at podcast.’ One thing I love about this space is that it harkens back to like the old radio style where the only outlet for entertainment you would have would be through radio f—ing airways. That’s what’s so cool about it is that now you’re in your car, you’re driving to work and you just put on a podcast and you actually do get sucked into some kind of weird space-time continuum. Like reality is messed with. And so that was one thing that when I first read the script, I was, like, immediately attached to.”
The American Beauty star admitted that a second draw to “Overleaper” was the realization that she could “show up in sweats and a ponytail and no makeup” for the part. That, and the fact that while the podcast can get “really dark” at times, “at the end of the day, it’s all about the love of the family.”
The new 10-episode fiction podcast will release weekly and is currently available for listening on all podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Stitcher.
Reporting by Leanne Stanton