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BG Falcon Media

The BG News
BG24 Newscast
November 30, 2023

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Celebrity Profile

The game is about to begin.

More than 25 years after it was introduced and nearly a decade after Courtney Solomon first dallied with the notion of bringing it to the big screen, ‘Dungeons ‘ Dragons’ will finally arrive in theaters on December 8. And the sword and sorcery epic does so with an eclectic cast that includes Justin (‘Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman’) Whalin as the thief/hero Ridley; Marlon (‘Scary Movie’) Wayans as his pal Snails; Kristen (Doctor Dolittle) Wilson as Norda; Jeremy (Reversal of Fortune) Irons as the evil Profion; Bruce (Passenger 57) Payne as Profion’s head henchman; and Thora Birch as Empress Savina, the 17-year-old who must assume rule her world when her beloved father is killed.

‘I didn’t know a lot about ‘Dungeons ‘ Dragons,” admits Birch, whose credits include ‘Clear and Present Danger,’ ‘Now and Then’ and, of course, ‘American Beauty,’ for which she won great acclaim for her devastating performance as Kevin Spacey and Annette Bening’s troubled daughter Jane.’ ‘I’d heard of it here and there, but I didn’t really know the ins and outs of it. I also didn’t know it had such a cult following, either. I read the script and I heard that people were in a frenzy that it was finally going to get done as a movie. Some of the people who were kids when it first came out or when it was at its most popular have fond memories of ‘Dungeons ‘ Dragons,’ and a lot of younger people are into right now. So a lot of people are psyched to see this. For me, it was cinematic culture shock going from ‘American Beauty’ to ‘Dungeons ‘ Dragons.’ Everything was different. ‘Dungeons ‘ Dragons’ is a different kind of movie. We shot it in Prague. And I went from playing this depressed girl to this optimistic girl who wants to help her people. I needed the Empress. I needed the Empress to sort of help me snap out of Jane mode.’

Birch describes first-time director Solomon as a man – he’s all of 28 years old – with a very clear vision of what he wanted for ‘Dungeons ‘ Dragons.’ And it was necessary, Birch says, to have a director with such an understanding of the material because of the barrage of action sequences and special effects required to flesh out the story. On her own end of the spectrum, however, Birch doesn’t pretend to be an actress who incorporates such elements as effects or elaborate costumes and makeup into her performance. In other words, she doesn’t go with it and slip into the fantasy. ‘It’s a pain in the ass screaming and yelling at a piece of blue paper,’ she explains. ‘On the other hand, it’s a good challenge. It doesn’t matter how many pictures and storyboards they show you in advance. When you’re doing those kinds of scenes, the wind machines are blowing and stuff is flying all over the place. I was also up on this huge rig and they’d say, ‘OK, the dragon is here. Action!’ And you have to do it. You have to say your lines at the right moment and you have to be in the exact place they told you to get or it won’t work. And you have to hope the rig is working and that the camera was in the right spot. It was hard.’

Bottom line, though, Birch enjoyed the experience. Prague was fine, Whalin was cool and Oscar-winner Irons brought out the best in her. ‘He’s the most intense actor ever,’ she opines of Irons. ‘When you do a scene with him it becomes sport, and it’s almost combative.’ As for the finished product? ‘I’ve seen it and it sucked me into that world,’ she enthuses. ‘I loved the special effects. The people I was with seemed really into it. And I think it will find an audience.’

Next up for Birch, who shot ‘Dungeons ‘ Dragons’ after ‘American Beauty’ but before it was released, will be ‘Ghost World,’ which she describes as a dark-dark comedy based on the underground comic book of the same name, and then ‘The Hole,’ a psychological thriller. Set in England, ‘The Hole’ follows the plight of several students whose plan to stay in a bomb shelter for three days goes awry, as they wind up stuck in the shelter for 18 days, with only one person emerging alive. ‘It’s all about what happened and why,’ Birch explains. ‘It’s a good time for me. ‘American Beauty’ gave me a lot of opportunities to do different things, to try different kinds of roles. My previous films were skewed much younger. ‘American Beauty’ gave me a chance to be seen as a teenager. And I got ‘Ghost World’ and ‘The Hole’ because of it.’

Birch hopes at some point to attend college, but ‘not immediately.’ Too many jobs are coming her way and she’s having too good a time. ‘I can’t imagine not being an actor,’ she says. ‘I can try to picture it, I guess, but I’ve been doing this since I was four and a half. This is my life. This is what I do. And I’m happy doing it.’

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