In 1996, The Craft hit theaters and mesmerized audiences with its dark portrayal of a high school where teenagers dealt with real issues — attempted suicide, racism — and the outcasts got their revenge (with the help of magic, of course). At the center of the story was Fairuza Balk’s Nancy Downs, the rebellious teen whose love of witchcraft became an obsession with power. Balk’s performance was nothing short of captivating, so much so that the actress found herself as the focal point of many stories about whether she practiced witchcraft in her personal life.
The rumors surrounding Balk’s personal relationship with witchcraft spiked when she bought an occult shop in Los Angeles while filming The Craft. Now, more than 20 years later, she’s ready to set the record straight. “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,” Balk tells EW. “They were really lovely people. [The woman who owned it] wanted to retire. She couldn’t put the kind of money into it that it needed to keep it up and so it was going to be turned into a Chinese restaurant. I thought for the oldest occult shop in the country, that’s a tragedy.
“There was a man that used to work there and he had an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject and he was a sort of a teacher to me during [The Craft]. I thought, what a shame this is going to be turned into a Chinese restaurant. So I bought it and put some work into it and helped it survive. But people of course were like, ‘She bought an occult shop and she’s fully into this and it’s all real.’ That has taken on its entire own mythology that’s essentially out of my hands. You can tell the truth and talk to people but they want to believe what they want to believe. What can you do? I’m not involved with that shop anymore. It was a very long time ago.”
As for the rumors that Balk was a practicing Pagan when she took on the role of Nancy Downs, she says they’re not true either. “I learned about it through coming to this film,” Balk says.