NEW YORK — A stake has been driven into Thora Birch's New York stage debut.
The 28-year-old actress best known for the films "American Beauty" and "Ghost World" has been dropped from an off-Broadway revival of "Dracula" at the Little Shubert Theater a few weeks before it is to open.
Birch had been slated to play the love interest of Count Dracula. Now her role will be filled by Emily Bridges, who is the daughter of Beau Bridges and who had been playing a smaller part.
Producers of the show didn't specify why Birch was released, but The New York Times reports that Jack Birch, her father and manager, objected to back rubs another cast member was giving his daughter.
According to the Times:
According to Mr. Alexander, who was told of the incident afterward by the actor, Mr. Birch asked the actor why he was rubbing Ms. Birch's back during the scene. The actor - whom none of the sides would name - said that he had been directed to do so as part of the scene. Mr. Birch objected, saying that the back rub was unnecessary, and told the actor to stop. (It is unusual for anyone other than a production's director to instruct an actor.)
When the actor tried to explain further what he was doing, Mr. Birch said, according to Mr. Alexander: "Listen, man, I'm trying to make this easier on you - don't touch her."
Mr. Birch, in an interview on Monday, denied using those words. Mr. Birch said in the interview that his daughter had been "a little uncomfortable on stage because an actor kept rubbing her back."
"I was trying to convey Thora's discomfort," Mr. Birch continued. "In no way was I making a threat."
The dropping of Birch has not changed the show's official opening, which is set for Jan. 5.