Fairuza Balk, born on May 21st, 1974, is an American actress who has starred in many blockbuster movies.
Her most famous roles include playing the famed character Dorothy Gale in Disney’s Return to Oz, the sequel to the classic The Wizard of Oz, and her appearances in Valmont, The Craft, The Waterboy, Almost Famous, and The Island of Dr. Moreau. After starring in many prominent roles as a child, she seemed destined to be a very successful actress, but she never seemed to live up to her potential. Where is she now?
Fairuza Baulk’s Early Life
Born in Point Reyes, California, Fairuza (whose name means “turquoise” in Persian) lived with her mother Cathryn Balk, who studied and taught the traditional and ethnic dance forms of many countries including Egypt, Turkey, Morocco, and Spain, and her father, Solomon Feldthouse, who was one of the founding members of the 1960s rock group Kaleidoscope. Fairuza moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, when she was six. It was there where she first started to act. She would continue to move around so that she could showcase her acting skills and try to create some exposure for herself.
Her first movie was an exclusive to TV film called The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, directed by George Shaeffer and released in 1983. When she was in London, Fairuza was cast by Walt Disney Productions to star in the then upcoming film, Return to Oz, as Dorothy Gale. She received worldwide fame for her performance in the film, and it gave her the exposure she needed, as it landed her roles in other films including the part of Mildred Hubble in The Worst Witch, and Valmont. The following year she attended high school, but decided to take correspondence classes instead of the traditional high school classes, and moved to Hollywood. Once she moved there, she started to gain more and more notice as an actress. In 1992, for her performance in the film Gas Food Lodging, an Allison Anders movie, Fairuza Balk was awarded an Independent Spirit Award as the best actress for her performance.
Four years later, in 1996, she landed a lead role in the film The Craft, in which she played a character who formed a teenage coven with other characters who were played by the actors Neve Campbell, Rachel True, and Robin Tunney. She continued to find roles in other films, including an Academy Award nominated performance in the film American History X. She continued to star in more movies throughout the 2000s, but none were incredibly successful. After starting from the top with Return to Oz, Balk had slowly fallen back down.
Fairuza Baulk In the 2010s
In 2014, however, a new movie starring her was announced: August Falls. The movie is about Anna Ellison, who is played by Balk, a woman who will stop at nothing to discover the truth of her estranged son August’s strange death. The police conclude that the tragedy was a suicide, but Anna doesn’t want to believe this. She feels there is more of the story to be told.
In her attempt to make sense of her loss and grappling with feelings of guilt, she moves into August’s apartment. There she meets Jonas, the building’s superintendent. They soon form a close bond, a shared longing for love and company in a dark, cruel world. Convinced that her only child did not commit suicide, Anna seeks out the people and places August had known. She leads an investigation with Jonas to find out the truth, but ends up realizing just how cold humanity can be. In an interview with Karen Benardello, Fairuza Balk sounded very excited about her new part in this film.
The movie was filmed independently. When asked about her opinion on indie films, Balk said: “Indies aren’t necessarily a money gig; you are there because you love the piece. On this film, especially, everybody really wants to be making it. They’re very excited about making it. It’s the first film in a long time that I’ve been on where absolutely everybody is genuinely excited and passionate about it.
It’s really a lovely change to come to work and everyone in the room is smiling and happy to see you, and exited to get going on the day, every day. It has been really unique and fun in that way. You hope that all films are going to be like this one. You hope you’re going to have a great experience and meet some wonderful people, and really work it. You hope that magic’s going to happen, but it doesn’t always happen; it is actually quite rare. I do think that indie films can facilitate that environment, especially since all of us are on location. So we’re like a big family here, doing this project.
It gives a more unique experience than say, if we’ve been shooting in Los Angeles, New York or somewhere where we all live. It gives the traveling circus feel of it, and that’s why I really love making independent movies-in those ways, they definitely are different.”
“The script was what really pulled me in, and I had an immediate infinity for it,” said Fairuza when asked about what made her want to act in the film. “I had great compassion for the character. Also, the ending isn’t a typical ending whatsoever, and it’s a look at life through this woman’s eyes at a story that’s not typical. Also, for me, the role was quite different. People have tended to see me as an actress who has played edgier, darker roles. That’s something that as much as I’ve enjoyed exploring, isn’t necessarily the one thing I want to do. Anna is different for me, and has been a challenge in a very wonderful way. Also, I saw Sam’s first film, ‘Being Us,’ and I really enjoyed it. I’m also a huge fan of Alanna Ubach, who’s in, and producing, our film. I’ve always wanted to meet and work with her, so it all worked out perfectly for me.”
“As much as she was estranged from August, she knows her boy.” Balk said when she was talking about the story and her role as Anna in the film. “She raised him for half of his upbringing on her own. So they were very close when he was younger. Before she’s even arrived, she feels like this is wrong. Once she does arrive, there are too many things that don’t add up.
It’s blatantly obvious to her that this wasn’t him, and he didn’t jump. It’s a terrible thing to have that certainty, and be convinced that somebody didn’t take their own life, and that there’s something awry. It’s terrible to not have anybody listen to, agree with or believe you. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t get anyone to see that this is just wrong in every way. She’s driven by love. I’m sure there is a part of her, in regards to them having lost that bond, that is an element of that, but love is intuition. She feels that this isn’t what happened in her bones.
The more she looks into it, the more she feels that way. She has more certainty that that wasn’t the case. I think that for a lot of us in life, there are elements where everything is pointing a different way, but you feel a certainty about something. You know in your bones what’s going on, and she can’t ignore that. Everyone’s telling her she’s acting nuts and she has to accept that it is what it is, and people do nonsensical things.
They’re telling her that we can’t always understand human behavior. But as human beings, we’re trained to trust those intuitive feelings. With Anna and her son, they had too strong of a bond. So she’s unable to separate herself from the feelings of not accepting his death as a suicide, and being able to move on.”
When asked about her experience working with director Sam Hancock, Balk said: “It’s interesting, because every director is so different. Sam is honestly very wonderful to work with. He has a great work ethic and attitude. He has a huge excitement, passion and love for making films, and that’s really refreshing. Since he’s younger and this is only his second film, he has that huge dynamic of excitement about being there.
At the same time, he has a great depth of feeling for the characters, since he was a writer on the project. Sometimes when a director has also written a piece, they can be a little harder to work with. They aren’t as welling at times to be open to working through it-they get married to the material as it is in its original form. That’s fine, and often times it works very well. But with Sam, he really likes to work with actors, and have them embody the characters. He also likes them to work with, and at times adapt, the script, to what feels natural for them in character.
That adaptability and versatility makes it that much easier for me, as an actor, to really embrace and embody a part. Also, having previously worked as an actor in films, he knows everything you need to know about each bit of it, so that’s very helpful. I’ve really enjoyed working with him, and hope to have the chance to work with him again. Not only is he a great director, he’s also a very lovely and wonderful person.”
Balk also revealed that she preferred filming on location, but it has its struggles, which could perhaps be a reason for her turning down other recent films and remaining quiet in the acting world.
“Yes,” Balk said when asked if she preferred filming on location, “and we were actually talking about how much we enjoy doing the locations when we first got here. It gives us an opportunity to explore new places that we normally wouldn’t be able to go to on our own. I love shooting on location, but it’s a double-edged sword for me. I have kids at home, and they get angry with me when I leave at a month at a time. But on this case, it’s close enough that they’re able to visit while we’re here. I’ve loved it so far, as it’s a really beautiful area.
I just moved to California from Texas about a year and a half ago, so I’m getting to explore parts of the country that I’ve never seen. I’ve also gotten to take my family to places they’ve never seen, and I get a lot of kudos for being the guy who gives them that opportunity. So I love it. As far as shooting goes, it helps to be where it’s happening, because it takes away that need to use your imagination. You can use your surroundings as inspiration, and that works great.”
Could August Falls be the film that brings Fairuza Balk back to the national spotlight? We can only wait and see. After seeing so much success at a young age and then seeing it go just as quickly, Balk probably knows this is one of her last shots. As a former child star, she has the pedigree to make it back into prominence, but she has to give the movie all she’s got. She needs to grasp this opportunity, and all we can do is sit here and watch it unfold.
What’s Fairuza Balk Doing Now in 2023 – Recent Updates
Fairuza Balk has been starring in the musical drama series, Paradise City, since 2021. A TV spinoff of the film American Satan, it premiered on March 25, 2021, on Amazon Prime Video.
In the show, Balk plays the character of Lizzie Thomas, Faith’s grandmother, and Vivian’s mother. Other cast members include Andy Biersack, Ben Bruce, Booboo sTeward, James Cassells, Ryan Hurst, and Mark Boone Junior. Praised by critics, the show has since been renewed for a second season, though an exact date has not yet been announced.
Earlier this year, she also lent her voice to a character in Close Enough, an animated action series that aired on HBO Max.
In terms of film appearances, she made a small cameo in the 2020 film, The Craft: Legacy, starring Cailee Spaeny, Gideon Adlon, and Love Simone. Prior to that, she appeared in Hell Is Where the Home Is, August Falls, and Battle Scars.
Outside of acting, she has also been releasing music under the name, Armed Love Militia. In 2010, she released her debut single “Stormwinds”. And last summer, she released her debut EP, Raw Live Lo-fi. Written by the actress herself, the album includes three tracks- “White Lillies”, “Dream 45”, and “Three Black Birds.” For those who are interested, you can grab it from her website here (the EP is also available as a cassette tape and vinyl).
Speaking of her site, she also offers a variety of merchandise such as t-shirts, hoodies, tote bags, badges, and more. In fact, she recently sold more than 500 tees. That’s not all, she also sold a number of personally signed postcards, according to her Twitter.
She has also announced that she plans on making a podcast with her longtime friend, Rachel True. According to her last blog post, they are still in the process of deciding what topics to cover. In the same post, she also stated that her Patreon is “very close to being ready”.
For those who’d like a personalized message from the actress, you can also find her on Cameo. As of right now, she offers personalized videos for $300 and live video calls for $900. In addition to that, she also offers video content for businesses for $2,100. The best part? 24-hour delivery is available so you won’t have to wait around for the video if you don’t want to.