Nancy Downs is one of the main characters of The Craft, eventually becoming the film's main antagonist, and a minor character of The Craft: Legacy. She is a troubled girl who practices witchcraft to try and improve her life. After forming a coven with Sarah Bailey, Bonnie Harper and Rochelle Zimmerman, Nancy gains magical abilities. However, her desire for more power leads her to invoke the spirit of Manon, making her an incredibly powerful witch, but also an extremely dangerous and unstable one. In The Craft: Legacy, she is the biological mother of the main protagonist Lily Schechner.
She is portrayed by Fairuza Balk.
Nancy has apparently lived most of her life in a run-down trailer park. Her father is never seen, suggesting he abandoned her, and her mother, Grace Downs-Saunders, remarried a man named Ray Saunders, whom Nancy despises due to his drunken and slovenly manner, as well as his abusive and inappropriate behavior towards her and her mother. Ray makes a comment suggesting that Grace was once a prostitute and that Nancy's father was a gambler, though it is unclear how true this is. At school, Nancy fared little better, being regarded as something of a freak and a loner.
Nancy was apparently once romantically interested in popular student Chris Hooker, but after they slept together, he spread rumors that she was promiscuous and gave him an STI, humiliating Nancy and causing her to be further ostracized and labelled a "slut" by the student body.
At some point, Nancy became interested in witchcraft and began practicing the Craft, hoping to empower herself and escape her disadvantaged life. She befriended two fellow outcasts, Bonnie and Rochelle, and together they aspired to become witches. However, none of their spells worked, due to them lacking a fourth witch to make a complete circle.
After witnessing new student Sarah Bailey using magic in class, Bonnie informs Nancy that she believes Sarah is the fourth girl to complete their coven. Nancy shrugs her off by telling her that they don't need a fourth person and is unimpressed by Sarah, being hostile towards her. Finally, though, Nancy gives in to Bonnie's theory and introduces herself to Sarah. She also tries to warn her of Chris, after seeing she is interested in him. Nancy, Bonnie and Rochelle take Sarah to an occult shop that they frequent (and regularly shoplift from) and reveal to Sarah they are practicing witches. When a vagrant who had earlier broken into Sarah's home and frightened her begins to harass Sarah, the four girls share a thought/will that he would be hit by a car. When he is indeed struck by a car moments later, this leads Nancy to believe that, with Sarah in the quad, they will be capable of actual supernatural abilities. They theorize that Sarah is a natural witch and Nancy tells her about Manon.
Later, when Chris starts spreading rumors around the school about Sarah after she declined to sleep with him, Nancy warns her about what people are saying. She appears to sympathize to an extent, saying that Chris did the same thing to her. Afterwards, Sarah befriends the girls and they form a coven. During their initiation, Nancy wishes for "all the power of Manon". She is frustrated and disappointed when her spells to gain more power and "not be white trash" fail to work, whilst the other girls' spells succeed. This changes one night, however, when she returns home from school and witnesses her stepfather try to hit her mother. Nancy snaps, screaming at Ray to stop and lashing out with her power. She causes Ray to suffer a fatal heart attack. Afterwards, Nancy and her mother learn that Ray's sizable life insurance policy has been bequeathed to them, allowing them to move into a nice apartment and live more comfortably.
Unfortunately, Nancy still desires more power, becoming so consumed by this notion she plans to invoke Manon. Lirio tries to warn her against this, saying that it is too dangerous for an inexperienced witch, but Nancy dismisses this and goes ahead with the invocation rite along with her coven on a deserted beach. During the ritual, Nancy successfully invokes Manon; she is struck by lightning and develops even greater powers, being able to walk on water. However, afterwards, Nancy seems less mentally stable. She is addicted to her power and uncaring of her abuse on the laws of magic, seeing herself as being above them and everyone else. Nancy gradually becomes even more immoral and controlling of the coven, engaging in increasingly risky and downright dangerous behavior (such as changing traffic lights to suit her, and subsequently causing other road users to crash) and dismissing Sarah's concerns.
After Chris attempts to rape Sarah (due in part to a love spell she had cast on him), a vengeful Nancy crashes a house party Chris is attending, where he has been drinking heavily, and beckons him upstairs. Nancy tries to seduce Chris, but when he rejects her, she uses a glamour to take on Sarah's appearance, tricking him. She reveals the truth when the real Sarah bursts into the room. She is clearly amused by Chris's panicked gabbling that she is "a witch" and tauntingly states that he only 'loves' Sarah because of the spell she cast, ignoring Sarah's urging that they leave. When Chris refuses to believe Nancy and claims she's just jealous, Nancy snaps and rants at Chris about how much she hates him, berating him for treating women "like whores" when he's actually the whore. This culminates in Nancy using telekinesis to hurl Chris from the bedroom window, killing him.
Following this incident, Sarah attempts to bind Nancy's powers to prevent her from hurting anyone else. However, the spell fails and Nancy turns on Sarah for her 'betrayal'. She manages to turn the other girls against Sarah as well and the three of them terrorize Sarah in her dreams and threaten her at school. They later attack Sarah with magic at her house, using glamours to make it seem the place is covered with snakes, rodents and insects (which Sarah had previously mentioned having a phobia of) and fabricating a TV news report that her father and stepmother have been killed in a plane accident. Nancy mocks Sarah's 'weakness' and her mother's death in childbirth, and tries to kill her and make it look like suicide, slashing her wrists with a knife. After Sarah retreats upstairs, Nancy orders Bonnie and Rochelle to go get her. When they express reluctance, wondering if they've gone too far, Nancy become angry and threatens them.
Unbeknownst to Nancy, however, Sarah has managed to invoke Manon herself and uses a glamour to trick Rochelle and Bonnie into thinking they'd been punished for their misdeeds by the Rule of Threefold, causing them to flee. Nancy goes upstairs to confront Sarah herself, armed with an athame. Sarah uses magic to frighten and subdue Nancy. She starts to panic and apologizes to Sarah, saying things got out of hand. When Sarah tries to bind her power again, Nancy tries to plead with her, to no avail. This prompts Nancy to attack Sarah, trying to stab her with the athame. After a brief fight, Sarah is able to shove Nancy into a mirror, knocking her unconscious. Sarah then binds Nancy, seemingly eliminating her abilities forever. At the end of the film, she is shown to have gone insane and is locked deep in a mental institution.
The Craft: Legacy
In The Craft Legacy, Nancy is the biological mother of Lily Schechner in the end of the movie. After Lily was born, Nancy has given Lily away to her adoptive mother Helen Schechner, who was Nancy's doctor. Nancy made sure that her daughter will never learn about her real identity, believing that it will protect the child from her enemies. Now, with Lily at her doorstep, Nancy realizes that her plan hasn't worked. And she is right. Adam Harrison, who was Helen's boyfriend and a dangerous warlock knew exactly who Lily's real mother is and came after her in order to steal her powers because of it, he also attempted to steal Nancy's power too. While he was ultimately destroyed, the world has other warlocks as well as other types of adversaries.
Nancy was shown to be a troubled and rebellious girl, becoming increasingly unstable and self-absorbed as the film progresses. Nancy could often be rude, aggressive and anti-social. She had few friends and didn't seem to trust people much; however, considering her upbringing and the way her peers generally treated her, it is hardly surprising. Nancy does show kindness towards those she cares for, such as warning Sarah about Chris and befriending Rochelle when she first moved to the neighborhood. She also appears sympathetic when Chris spread rumors about Sarah, appears to pitying rather than scornful when Sarah admits she still wants Chris to like her and seemed genuinely upset at Bonnie's distress over her scars. She also seems to care for her mother, unleashing her first real display of power to protect her from her stepfather. However, over time, she loses her sense of empathy and goodwill, even towards her friends.
Nancy does have a somewhat questionable sense of morality even in the beginning, seeing nothing wrong with stealing, being disrespectful towards authority figures and her mother, or ordering around her friends. She rarely listens to advice and can be brash and arrogant. Nancy becomes increasingly power-hungry and detached from reality. She becomes far less empathetic, even treating her coven-sisters coldly and being willing to harm or kill anyone she saw as a threat, or that she simply disliked. Nancy craved power and recognition from Manon, but had no real respect for the laws of magic, abusing her gifts and turning on her friends. Ultimately, this resulted in her being stripped of her power and becoming completely mentally unhinged.
After the events of the Craft, she feels remorse for betraying the coven, it was later implied during the Craft Legacy, that Nancy was sexually assaulted during her confinement, which leaves her traumatized to the point she learns that her assault was resulted in her becoming pregnant and later after giving birth to her daughter Lily, during which she wants to protect her daughter from forces who are after her and her daughter for their powers, so she gave her to Helen, so she could teach her good morals and never learn where she came from.
Nancy favors a Gothic aesthetic. She has jet black hair cut-short, slate grey eyes, and pale skin. She often wears maroon lipstick with black eyeliner and is commonly shown wearing black clothes or her school uniform and cross earrings. She has short black hair which she pulls back into a ponytail or pigtails, or sometimes curls.
In The Craft Legacy, Nancy appears older with long brown hair with blue eyes, still has a gothic look.
Lilith "Lily" Schechner is Nancy's biological daughter. It was implied during "The Craft Legacy", that Nancy was sexually assaulted during her confinement, which leaves her traumatized to the point, which was resulted in her becoming pregnant with Lily. After Nancy gave birth to Lily, she gave her to Helen, who was Nancy's doctor. Nancy made Helen promise not to tell Lily, who she is and where she came from in order to protect her daughter from forces, who are after her and Lily for their powers, which it did happened after sixteen years later. After the defeat of a dangerous warlock Adam Harrison, who was attempting to steal Lily's powers, Helen took Lily to meet Nancy.
Off screen, Nancy and Chris used to date. However, Chris only used her for sex, gave her an STI, dumped her and spread rumor around school saying that she's a whore who gave him an STI. Nancy warned Sarah about Chris's womanizing demeanor, "He spreads disease. I speak from a personal experience... he's a jerk." Being bullied at school because of his lies caused a deep hatred within Nancy towards Chris and the entire school. Eventually, Nancy uses the glamour spell, disguising herself as Sarah, tricking Chris into making out with her, and then uses her telekinesis powers to push him out the window to his death.
Ray Saunders is Nancy's stepfather. Ray and Nancy don't have a very loving relationship as Ray behaves inappropriately towards her, for instance trying to lift up her bathrobe. Ray also was abusive to Nancy's mother, Grace, which makes Nancy angry. When Ray tries to hit her mother, Nancy snaps and either intentionally or unintentionally uses her powers to cause him to have a heart attack.
When Sarah Bailey first arrived in L.A, Nancy didn't consider her to be "the fourth" as Bonnie said. But when Sarah displayed magical powers, Nancy instantly warmed to her as she found Sarah as a catalyst to access her full powers. To begin with, the two were good friends, but when Nancy began to abuse her magic, Sarah became frightened of Nancy's hunger for more and more power. She attempted to bind Nancy's powers, causing Nancy to turn on her and attack her with magic. Eventually, Sarah had to strip Nancy and her powers for good, leaving Nancy completely insane.
Powers and Abilities
In the beginning, Nancy had no powers until Sarah completed the coven. As a witch, Nancy is a capable of performing spells and glamours as well as projecting and performing significant and difficult spells. It was implied in early in the film, and in the shooting script, that the abilities Nancy displayed before invoking Manon were merely a result of her leaching Sarah's power.
When Nancy successfully invokes Manon, she is channeling all of his power, giving her incredibly powerful abilities.
Nancy is no longer capable of these powers due to Sarah binding them, because of her misuse of them.
- Magic: The ability to connect with the mystical forces of nature and bend the universe to her liking whether it be the laws of reality, manipulation of luck, probability and science, jinxing people and making incidents and occurrences fall into place. This can be used with concentration of the mind, meditation, conjuring and invoking spirits and supernatural energies and using occult and spiritual tools and resources including rituals and chants for numerous affects.
- Magic Channeling: The ability to channel magical forces from nature, supernatural energies, objects, spirits, locations and other beings through the use of chants, rituals, meditation even concentration of the mind in order to manifest. Nancy used this ability to latch on to Sarah because of her magical talents to strengthen her own little by little when they started their little gatherings and witchcraft activities. This can also strengthen spells for a change in outcomes and effects and can strengthen the powers of one's self and others the user chooses.
- Telekinesis: The ability to move, shape, connect, rearrange, disfigure and alter the properties and materials of objects, the environment and individuals with one's mind.
- Divination: The ability to gain knowledge and insight from the past, present, future, an event, a person, an area or an object through means of the psychic mind, rituals, spiritual or occult materials and items or supernatural communication.
- Levitation: The ability to suspend above the ground or to fly anywhere.
- Aerokinesis: The ability to create, shape and manipulate wind and air that includes controlling gusts and flow making the wind stronger or softer, colder or warmer and creating tornadoes.
- Glamour: The ability to conceal the true form of an object or person. Contains both the power of illusion casting and shape shifting.
- Spiritual-Ship: The ability to visually concept, perceive, summon and communicate with the deceased and other spiritual beings connected to many astral realms. This can be used to make deals, gain insight of people, situations and events and gain intuition. This can grant astral vision and detection.
- Spell Casting: The ability to cast spells and enchantments through rituals, incantations, meditation and the use of magical properties, resources and spiritual energies for a variety of affects.
- Astral Projection: The ability to project one self's spirit, consciousness and soul into the astral plane and spirit realms anywhere including the realm of the living even keeping the attributes and powers of one self.
- Pyrokinesis: The ability to manipulate and create fire whether it be color, shape, heat energy, constructs and forms of projection.
- Teleportation: The ability to instantaneously move from one space, direction, location or area from one place to another. This can also be used on other people and objects. Nancy can use this power silently and can warp into an unseen dark shadow.
- Weather Manipulation: The ability to manipulate the nature and properties of the weather patterns.
- Technopathy: The ability to manipulate technology, devices and gadgets or any machinery that has electrons or electrode magnetic fields.
- Telepathy: The ability to read the thoughts of others and enter another's mind and gain insight on memories, ideas, secrets, past experiences and knowledge from them.
- Dream Manipulation/Entering: The ability to enter and control another's dreams to alter another's emotion, memory or mood. The user can even do mental and physical harm.
Nancy is responsible for the deaths or attempted murders of several people, including:
- The Vagrant (caused a car to hit him, with Sarah, Rochelle and Bonnie's help; unknown if he died)
- Ray Saunders (caused him to a have heart attack; could be regarded as self-defense, given that he had tried to attack her and her mother, and had apparently been abusing them for years)
- Chris Hooker (telekinetically pushed him out of a window)
- Sarah Bailey (attempted; terrorized her, tricked her into thinking her parents were dead in an attempt to get her to commit suicide; slashed her wrists with a knife and tried to stab her)
- "Back in the old days, if a witch betrayed her coven, they would kill her."
- —Nancy's thinly-veiled threat to Sarah
- She was born January 29, 1980.
- She is 16-years-old in The Craft.
- She is the only one of the four girls who can drive, or is seen driving.
- It is possible she may be bisexual, given some of the sexual remarks she makes towards or about women in the film.
- According to the filmmakers, Nancy's classical element is Air.
- Nancy's lines "I love a woman in uniform!" and "Punk Rock, let's go!" were ad-libbed by Fairuza Balk.
- DVD commentary