Fairuza Balk: Spelling it Out

It's not every Hollywood actress who owns a witchcraft store. But then, Fairuza Balk is hardly like every Hollywood actress.


With a sultry voice and turquoise eyes no colored contacts could ever re-create, the 24-year-old Balk has become Hollywood's seemingly most depressed steadily working actress. After the low-key Imaginary Crimes, in which she played Harvey Keitel's depressed daughter, and Things To Do in Denver When You're Dead, in which she played a teen junkie, Balk cast a spell in the cult fave The Craft (which led her to become involved with Panpipes, the Hollywood occult shop she owns). Following that she played Marlon Brando's half-human/half-cat-thing daughter in The Island of Dr. Moreau. No wonder she found herself getting phone calls from people casting "death-worshipping suicidals." "I always get the 'goth girl' thing because I wear black. But I don't worship death," she insists, inhaling deep from her cigarette. Then she allows, "I do think I tend to have a darker nature than most."

Where did this dark nature come from? "My family is basically Gypsies--for real," says Balk, who ended her structured education in grade nine, deciding she just didn't fit in. Her father was absent early on, and her mother traveled with her in tow from California to Canada to England. As far as Balk is concerned, she doesn't really fit in in Hollywood, either. "People don't talk to me the way they would other people," she says of her experience at events like premieres. "They kind of look at me, but they never come over. It makes me feel like there's something wrong with me."

It's hard to imagine people will find Balk any more approachable after the release of American History X, in which she plays Edward Norton's shit-kicking, shaved-head, white-supremacist girlfriend, Stacey. "It was really hard to find her in me," says the actress. "Basically, she's the scum of the earth." To prepare, Balk found herself some skinheads to hang with in Orange County, California, where she attended white-power rallies and music gigs.

"It's very testosterone-driven," she notes. "Three hundred shirtless guys jumping around, slamming into each other, and then they go 'fag bashing.' I don't need to point out the irony in that." What did Balk think of the quirkily handsome Norton? "I would do anything to work with him again," she responds. "And by the way, that's not ass-kissing. I want people to respect him." What's more, Balk also wants a little respect herself. "I know what's going on inside here," she says, pointing to her head. "You can't touch this. I'm solid."


Kim McCann