"The Blair Witch Project" marked a career high for budding young actress Heather Donahue.
The 1999 mockumentary horror movie made $248 million at the global box office and became a cult hit. After its release, the actress nabbed roles in several small films and starred in the mini-series "Taken" but remained relatively unknown by name in Hollywood. So when she was 34, she quit acting and grew marijuana for a year.
Donahue, who turns 37 on December 22, documented her experience in her new book, "Growgirl: How My Life After 'The Blair Witch Project' Went to Pot," which is set to be released on Jan. 5, 2012. The cover features Donahue appearing topless and covered by a cannabis plant.
"I didn't want to be 'The girl from 'The Blair Witch Project'' anymore," she narrates in an animated trailer for the book, which was posted on her website and depicts her swimming in the nude.
"I lived the Hollywood dream until it got undreamy," she added. "And then it burned and I was empty again. Seeds fell into the empty spaces. The seeds of a new dream. There were unexpected sprouts. Many, many, many, many, many, many expected sprouts. Like any green thing, I just keep leaning for the light. But the dark came anyway." (Watch the trailer for Heather Donahue's book here - warning: Contains annimated nudity)
Donahue describes her experiences growing pot in a California "community" she calls "Nuggettown," where experienced growers and their "pot wives" help each other build what is called "grow rooms." These indoor facilities usually contain custom bright lighting and watering equipment where cannabis plants can thrive. Many experienced pot growers use such rooms, often located inside people's homes, in states where marijuana is legal or decriminalized.
In California, usage, possession and cultivation of regulated amounts of cannabis for medical purposes, with a doctor's prescription, or "recommendation," are permitted under state law. The practices are federal crimes. This contradiction occasionally leads to government raids of stores that sell pot.
In a post on her website published on December 10, Donahue describes herself as a "former pot grower" and wrote: "I once got a doctor's recommendation at HempCon for $50 and a record-free claim of PMS [Premenstrual Syndrome]. Is that gaming the system? Or is that providing my uninsured self some relief? Should insomnia be a qualifying condition? Anxiety? How about an acute giggle deficit?"
Donahue says her book is "mostly a memoir about finding my place in the world," which she adds "happened while I was growing pot, which is federally illegal, which makes me lose sleep at night."
Earlier this month, Donahue read excerpts from her book at the pot-themed Humboldt HempFest event in Redway, California, where she was heckled by several audience members.
"It passed, things do," Donahue said on her website about her experience.
"There's nothing my pending book tour can throw at me that I didn't encounter at HempFest," she added. "So, gratitude, uh huh, and the knowledge that peanut butter is a burger condiment, and an all around giddy road trip with the nontourage of gents. I was safe, I was well, let's reiterate - I was safe - and in even the one-hour-later-version of retrospect, it was hilarious. Especially after the jolly gems."
"The Blair Witch Project" was a fake documentary about a group of student filmmakers who travel to Maryland to try and find the mysterious "Blair Witch" a local urban legend, but disappear following a terrifying hike in the woods in the middle of the night. The movie spurred a 2000 sequel, "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2," which starred other actors and made $47 million worldwide.
Check out what happened to the other cast members of "The Blair Witch Project" and also check out videos of Heather Donahue reading from her book and getting heckled at HempFest below.