Why You Don't Hear About Fairuza Balk Anymore

In the mid-'90s Fairuza Balk was the talk of the town thanks to her uniquely menacing turns as the lead witch in The Craft and as the goth neo-Nazi girlfriend to Edward Norton's American History X persona.

She also breached the mainstream with roles in The Waterboy and The Island of Doctor Moreau, but somewhere around the turn of the millennium, the pixie-haired actress disappeared from our screens and our news feeds. So, what happened to the actress who'd thrilled and chilled on the big screen? Here's why we don't hear much from Fairuza Balk anymore.

Fairuza Balk was typecast as a gloomy girl

What people might not know about Fairuza Balk is that she was actually something of a child actress, earning a breakout role in the 1985 sequel Return to Oz, at just 11 years old. She went on to star in the TV movie The Worst Witch as a witch academy weirdo, and that personality aesthetic would follow her career — mostly because she was so good at it.

That off-kilter persona has since been hard to shake, even with her "she's the devil"-style appeal in The Waterboy. Goth chic was a total trend in the late '90s, of course, but that wild style has hardly held up. Plus, she's kinda sick of it herself, telling Shock Ya!, "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."

A series of little-seen movies sent Fairuza Balk into the shadows

Even when dark garbs and scary sensuality were still in vogue, Fairuza Balk simply couldn't capitalize on her 15 minutes of film fame. Although her appearances in The Craft, American History X, and the popular musical drama Almost Famous earned her almost-household name status, her follow-up films would totally tank with critics and audiences alike. Chances are, you've never even heard of films like Deuces Wild, What Is It?, Dose of Reality, and Don't Come Knocking. Those Balk-starring pics were widely panned and box office blunders to boot.

Nancy Downs was a character Fairuza Balk just couldn't shake

It might sound silly that some fans of The Craft have cooked up conspiracy theories about Fairuza Balk joining the occult in real-life, but they're not completely unfounded. The Bio Channel did a feature on the actress in 2013 in support of their The Haunting of Fairuza Balk segment, cleansing her home of the ghosts she believed were haunting it. The behind-the-scenes details were strikingly bizarre — the writer working with her for the project admitted to getting a sense of witchcraft before she even knew Balk. For what it's worth, she came off as a "Good Witch," but still a witch nonetheless.

And co-star Robin Tunney added fuel to that speculation fire by telling The Guardian she remembered Balk being into the real-life craft, just like her character. "My memory is that Fairuza Balk, who plays Nancy, was actually into witchcraft. She seemed to know a lot about it, and there's an authenticity to her performance," she explained.

Balk ruined all that speculation, however, in 2017 when she told Entertainment Weekly that her interest in the occult was purely for research for the role. She even poured cold water on her purchase of an LA "occult shop," saying that she "bought it and put some work into it and helped it survive," because it was a family-owned business that helped her prepare to play Nancy Downs. Sorry, conspiracy theory fans. Sounds like Balk is just a really compassionate person with a great work ethic.   

Fairuza Balk is an artist first

Although she's been acting since grade school, Fairuza Balk has also been quietly working on other forms of art, including music, performance, and drawn art pieces. Not only is she a talented jazz and rock singer, but she's also been releasing her drawings for sale on her website, and the works are symbol-ridden collectives of her meditation-related poems and prose.

She also designs and paints clothing parcels related to her "Fear No Art" and "Armed Love Militia" brands, the latter of which is the title of her music collaboration project. She revealed in 2016 that she intends to record and release an album "where each song is — I work with different artists ... and each song is in its own style." Her first single, "Stormwinds," was recorded with her long-time beau Steven Gilmour.

Armed Love Militia has released a three-son EP, including "Stormwinds." In September 2018, Balk teased a new track — the duet "White Lillies" with singer/songwriter Mel Sanson, which Féroce dubbed, "so good we're going to be devastated if these two don't sing together again soon." As of this writing, it seems the full version of "White Lillies" has yet to be released. 

You probably won't see Fairuza Balk in The Craft remake

When it comes to comebacks, remakes and overdue sequels are a mixed batch of successes, but even though Fairuza Balk often revives her famed screen counterpart Nancy for inspiration for some of her designs, she doesn't want anything to do with a remake of The Craft, whether it's able to live up to the original or not.

After Sony decided to reboot the (oc)cult classic, Balk took to Twitter to express her disinterest in being part of it. "It doesn't surprise me much. Sony made a lot of money off the craft & obviously see it as a way to make more," she wrote, adding, "Personally I don't care for the idea of remakes. There are great scripts & ideas out there that have yet to be made!"

So, don't hold out hope that we'll get to find out whether Nancy "I'm Flying" Downs ever made it out of the looney bin to play another round of "Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board."

Fairuza Balk is not interested in the game of fame and fortune

In the 2014 film documentary Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr. Moreau, Balk revealed that she didn't subscribe to the same professional philosophies of some of her peers, saying, "What people choose to do in the name of politics, which is basically in the name of money, there are no morals. There's no integrity at all. They'd sell their child down the river for money."

Indeed, she told Dread Central that she feels a need to be "interested" by a potential acting project's merit, rather than the bottom line of any given opportunity. "I never just want to work for the sake of working. There has to be 'something' there for me so that I can grow from the experience," she explained. "I struggled a lot with being pushed too hard in my 20's, with people telling me that I had to keep taking more and more movies because that's really only when I'd be relevant. Hollywood is designed that way; it's always about the new flavor of the moment and I've always preferred to be a bit more mysterious."

Even these well-respected indies couldn't keep Fairuza Balk in the spotlight

After the turn of the millennium, Balk's phone might not have been ringing off the hook with fresh opportunities, but she didn't start having any major gaps in her filmography until the 2010s, when the roles really started to dry up. Oddly enough, that was around the same time that her Tomatometer rating started getting an uptick thanks to well-reviewed indie films like Wild Tigers I Have Known, Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and Blood Into Wine. Her most significant return to screen presence happened in 2015, when she nabbed a recurring role on Showtime's crime drama series Ray Donovan.

And even though Balk's fans haven't gotten to see as much of the enigmatic actress as they might like, she has been audible all the while, voicing video game characters like Mercedes Cortez for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Lady T'Lak in Lords of Everquest. She also lent her vocal cords to narrate the well-liked documentary Beyond Clueless.

Fairuza Balk isn't just sitting around getting high, but she doesn't care if you are

In addition to blogging about conquering the modern political malaise, Balk has also stepped out in support of the Marijuana Policy Project, telling press that while she herself does not imbibe the substance due to her struggles with anxiety, she respects the right of others to pass the grass because it's natural and satisfies her earthy vibe.

"I don't smoke pot myself. I wish I could, I get anxiety, but I really believe in its legalization because of its value medically. There are a couple of people in my family with a very serious illness, and were it not for marijuana they would basically be incapacitated," she explained. "So, even though I don't smoke it, I'm very much behind it. It's something that comes out of the earth. I feel like man is very arrogant to say that anything is illegal that comes out of the ground." That's what you call an on-brand opinion right there.

Fairuza Balk is doing it her way

Fairuza Balk's Ray Donovan role indicates that she knows how to play the Hollywood game her way. But her heart is still clearly set on independent film work, which she returned to in 2017's August Falls. "It's the first film in a long time that I've been on where absolutely everybody is genuinely excited and passionate about it," she told Shock Ya!. Unfortunately, the film received zero buzz, with no mainstream critics even taking the time to review it. Next up was Trespassers, which fared only slightly better with a 59% critics' score from Rotten Tomatoes and an even worse 28% with critics. 

In 2020, Balk joined Paradise City, a drama about the rock music industry that features such a huge cast of well-known actors and musicians, it's sure to at least make some mainstream waves. But the coronavirus pandemic that struck that same year threw her career (along with everyone else in the industry) a bit of a curveball. "I personally lost 3 jobs I was counting on," Balk relayed in an April Instagram post.    

Fortunately for Balk, her career goals don't seem to have much to do with blowing up the box office or the record charts. She still promotes her music in the most indie way possible, by personally packaging and shipping her own albums and merch. And as she once told Fangoria, "For me to continuously explore where I can go with acting, music and art... I want to keep growing and expanding."