Just months before a young girl and her aunts first started casting their spell on audiences on Sabrina the Teenaged Witch and prior to a trio of sisters embracing their powers on Charmed — and long before Hermione Granger honed her wand-waving skills in the Harry Potter films, not to mention the magical antics on The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina — a group of friends flexed their occult-fueled powers in 1996’s The Craft.
Along with Robin Tunney, Rachel True, and Neve Campbell, actress Fairuza Balk captivated fans. According to Vulture, Balk perfectly portrayed her character, Nancy Downs, “with equal parts blistering anger and touching vulnerability.” And then there was the way she looked. The ultimate example of a ’90s goth girl, she embraced everything from a studded collar and crucifix earring to dark crimson lips and smoky black eyeliner.
In fact, Balk’s unforgettable look in the movie is why you may be surprised by what she looks like today.
People thought Fairuza Balk was really a witch
If you’ve ever wondered if Fairuza Balk’s convincing portrayal of a witch in The Craft was inspired by her IRL interests, you weren’t alone. Apparently, “the actress found herself as the focal point of many stories about whether she practiced witchcraft in her personal life,” according to Entertainment Weekly. Granted, the star helped to spark further speculation “when she bought an occult shop in Los Angeles while filming” the movie.
However, 20 years after the fact, Balk was willing to open up to Entertainment Weekly about the witchy situation. “The true story is I found this occult shop in L.A. and I used to go there to ask them questions and do my research,” she explained in 2017. Recalling that the people who worked there “were really lovely,” the star said that the woman who owned the store “couldn’t put the kind of money into it that it needed to keep it up” and running. Because it was “the oldest occult shop in the country,” Balk felt like it was “a tragedy” to let it close, so she “bought it and put some work into it and helped it survive.” She notes that because of her purchase, “people … were like, ‘She bought an occult shop and she’s fully into this and it’s all real.'”
Balk is no longer involved with the shop, and following The Craft, she went on to make another eye-catching appearance in an incredibly stylish film.
The actress went from a witch to a 'band aid'
Four years after co-starring (and being super scary) in The Craft, Fairuza Balk appeared in 2000’s Almost Famous as an experienced groupie — or, rather, a “band aid” (as opposed to a Band-Aid) — named Sapphire. “According to Penny [Lane, who was played by Kate Hudson], the distinction between Band-Aids and groupies is that groupies sleep with rock stars because they want to be near someone famous,” Bustle explains. “Band Aids, however, are there because of the music. They[‘re] there [to] facilitate the creative process. Or, at least, that’s what you tell yourself, you know?”
While the nature of Balk’s character and her friends was one thing, fans of the movie have remained obsessed with the style in the film. With the irresistible touch of retro fabulousness, Balk and her co-starsdonned era-appropriate outfits that included denim, feathers, and crocheted tops a’plenty. For Balk, specifically, her slightly hippie-ish vibe was shockingly different from how she’d appeared in The Craft. Frankly, her Almost Famous appearance is also quite a stark contrast to the character she took on in a more recent rock star adjacent role.
Fairuza Balk returns to the world of rock stars with another witchy look
Fairuza Balk has appeared in plenty of movies and shows over the years, including American History X and The Waterboy – two very different films that both came out in 1998 — as well as Masters of Horror and Ray Donovan. More recently, in 2020, she took on the role of Lizzie Thomas on Paradise City, a show that surely brings her back to her Almost Famous days with its music scene storyline.
According to Loud Wire, the series is a spin-off of 2017’s American Satan and focuses on a seemingly successful rock star and a young amateur. “[O]n its way to becoming rock fans next favorite television show,” part of its appeal is its “rock star-studded cast” which boasts “Slipknot’s Sid Wilson, Lamb of God’s Randy Blythe, Asking Alexandria’s Ben Bruce and James Cassells, Black Veil Brides’ Andy Biersack, Nita Strauss, Sleeping With Sirens’ Kellin Quinn, and more.” On top of that, viewers can also spot Bella Thorne, Mark Boone Junior, Perrey Reeves, and Drea de Matteo.
However, if you don’t recognize Balk at first, we wouldn’t blame you. Instead of the now-vintage look that she showed off in Almost Famous, her Paradise City character looks more like the star’s style in The Craft, thanks to the dark red lipstick and black eye makeup. Honestly, if we found out Lizzie is a witch, we wouldn’t be surprised.
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