Alicia Silverstone has been called every name in the book. “The Aerosmith chick,” “The Clueless Girl,” “Fatgirl” instead of “Batgirl,” “a hippie weirdo.” Really, the list goes on. So nowadays? Nothing phases her anymore.
She was hurled into the spotlight at a fragile, young age after playing Cher in the quintessential ‘90s chick flick Clueless. She became an overnight sensation. People were obsessed, to say the least. That’s why it was weird to see her slowly fade away.
Alicia abandoned acting for several years. She despised everything that Hollywood promoted and didn’t want to take part in the mainstream’s vapid, hedonistic crusades. Luckily for us, she’s been making a comeback in recent years.
Let’s take a look at what caused her to leave in the first place.
Clueless – the Film That Launched Her Into the Spotlight
A glossy high school satire, 1995’s Clueless was a box office knockout. And Silverstone, who was the leading socialite of the bunch, was thrust into the limelight in dizzying force. At just 18, such a high level of fame was a major lifestyle change and one she wasn’t quite prepared for.
People wanted her to be like her character in the movie, Cher. They wanted her to be a fashion-obsessed, ditzy blonde who switches outfits three times a day. But, in reality, Silverstone was clueless (a little wordplay) when it came to glamming up. She was nothing like Cher, and the glitter and glitz of stardom overwhelmed her to the point that she wanted to back down.
Chased and Body Shamed by the Paparazzi
So, this is where things got really ugly.
After Clueless, the next movie she dove into was Batman & Robin (1997), directed by Joel Schumacher and apparently hated by everyone but Joel Schumacher. It’s often cited as “the worst Batman movie of all time.” Unfortunately, Silverstone had no way of knowing what a flop it would be, so she put on her Batgirl suit and glided onto the set every day anew.
The media’s response to her acting, as well as her appearance, was downright cruel. She was gifted a Razzie Award for worst actress and was given a new nickname – Fatgirl. Barely an adult at the time, she had paparazzi chanting “Fatgirl” as they ran after her on the streets.
“I knew that it was not right to make fun of someone’s body shape, that doesn’t seem like the right thing to be doing to a human,” she told The Guardian in a recent interview.
A Journalist Asked for Her Bra Size
Those who interviewed Silverstone in the mid ‘90s were, for all intents and purposes, adults. Yet they threw such infantile nonsense at Silverstone, asking her questions like what her bra size was. Funny how she was the child in the room, yet she was the one acting maturely.
When things hit the fan during interviews, Silverstone said she would try and learn from it, and when it became impossible, she would calmly back away. “No, I didn’t say ‘f**k you’ and come out like a warrior,” she told The Guardian, “but I would just walk away and go, OK I know what that is, and I’m done, I’m not going near that again.”
She Stopped Loving Acting for a Long Time
Being treated like nothing more than a money-making object over and over again stirred in Silverstone an unfortunate antagonism towards acting in general. She blamed the profession for the wrongdoings of the press, and it took her years to remind herself how much she loved to perform. She had to remind herself that the acting itself had nothing to do with what the media made of it.
“I stopped loving acting for a very long time,” she told The Guardian. After Batman & Robin, she focused on activism rather than her career. She added that it was a part in a David Mamet play that reminded her of her passion, “My body was just like, this is what I’m meant to do, I love it so much, I need to find a way to do both, to be able to be an actress and be an activist at the same time, so that’s what I did.”
Young and Loose-Tongued
According to Alicia, she didn’t always behave as well as she could have during her early interviews. “I would sort of just light the house on fire by accident and not be aware of the consequences until it was over and be like, ‘Oops maybe I shouldn’t have said that” she admitted.
It took a lot of exploration to find a voice of her own, and one that really suits her personality and what she believes in. She shared that the pressures of fame made it hard to formulate an authentic identity, and that distancing herself from the limelight definitely helped.
She Hated Being Called the Aerosmith Chick
At the young age of 17, Alicia Silverstone played the teen heroine in three of Aerosmith’s videos – “Cryin,” “Amazing” and “Crazy.”
The moment “Cryin” aired on MTV in the summer of ‘93, she became a rock & roll muse. A youthful darling that people grew more and more curious about. An angelic-looking teen who impulsively tattooed herself and bungee jumped from bridges.
“People would call me ‘The Aerosmith chick,’” she told Cinema Blend, “and I was like 17 and I was very offended! Because I was like, ‘I’m a very serious actress. How could you? The Aerosmith chick? That was really’… and now I think it’s hilarious! But at the time, I was like, ‘That’s so rude.’”
Director Marty Callner Liked What He Saw
Silverstone’s Aerosmith trilogy began after director Marty Callner spotted her on The Crush, a 1993 erotic thriller with Alicia playing a young, hopeless romantic, who’s in love with her older neighbor Nick. Callner liked what he saw on the screen. He liked the fact that Alicia looked like an innocent little girl who wouldn’t hurt a fly yet was able to play someone who was far from it.
He connected her to Aerosmith, who made a fortune from having her on their video. “Aerosmith made a hell of a lot of money off that clip,” Silverstone revealed. “Their sales tripled or something. They would have been crazy not to ask me back.”
An Amazing Trip
And ask her back they did. “Amazing” was the next chapter in the Silverstone trilogy and probably the best song of the three. A powerful, moving tune about sobriety, the song’s video shows a desperate hacker who cooks up a code to project himself into an Aerosmith music clip – all so he can meet Alicia.
They set off on a lovey dovey bike ride into the desert and end up gliding together high up in the sky. At the end of the clip, the teen notices he had it all wrong. He realizes he’s not the one responsible for hacking the system; Alicia is! He’s nothing but a pawn in her little game.
Last but Certainly Not Least – Crazy
Alicia starred in “Crazy” a year before she became a Clueless starlet. She paired up with Steven Tyler’s daughter Liv to play two teen runaways who go on a wild joyride in their Ford Mustang. This would be Silverstone’s last appearance on Aerosmith’s videos and the beginning of a new chapter in her life.
While she was a bit upset over the fact that people didn’t consider her role in the music clips “true acting,” Silverstone said she learned to rise above it, reminding herself that she got the part due to her skills and not just her looks.
How Amy Heckerling Found Her
Alicia charmed one Aerosmith fan in particular, director Amy Heckerling, who was cooking up the next big teen flick – Clueless. “I was minding my own business on my treadmill watching MTV when I saw ‘Cryin” and just went cuckoo bananas,” Amy told Rolling Stone back in 1995.
Silverstone graced the cover of Rolling Stone the same year Clueless hit the big screens and told the interviewer she was a bit ambivalent about people’s reactions to her. “I’m not a video star turned actress. I’m a serious actress who spent a few days making videos,” she insisted.
Alicia Was the Cutest Thing Amy Had Ever Seen
Silverstone recalled her first meeting with the mastermind behind Clueless. “Amy loves to tell this story of me drinking from a cup with a straw because I wouldn’t lift the cup up to my mouth,” Alicia revealed; “I had it on the table and would just bob my head up and down to get the straw.”
Amy thought Alicia’s bobbing was the cutest thing she’d ever seen and knew without any audition that she had found her Cher. Silverstone shared that Amy allowed her to do whatever: “She was the type of director who hires the person they think is right for the job and just lets them fly.”
Her Mom Had a Distaste for Materialism
Silverstone nailed the part of Cher to the point where you genuinely believed that that’s the kind of girl she was in real life. But that couldn’t be farther than the truth. She grew up with a mom who had a real distaste for superficiality, materialism, and vapid glamour.
Silverstone’s mom preached simplicity, practicality, and humility. So, for her to play such an extravagant and flashy character like Cher was totally refreshing. To get into character, the starlet said she drew inspiration from a few girls who went to high school with her.
The Notorious Hair Flip
When Silverstone was a kid, she used to flip her hair back dramatically to get it out of her eyes. Apparently, that ticked off the girls she went to school with, who viewed her gesture as a snobby and uncalled for little hair-whip. Years later, though, it would benefit Alicia, who would use her hair flip to impersonate Cher.
“I remember making an effort to do that hair flip with a lot of attitude whenever I was walking as Cher,” she shared. “I just remember thinking this is like a heightened version of what those girls thought I was.” In a sense, Cher was like a parody of the Beverly Hills princess that many girls in her neighborhood thought she was.
She Thought Brittany Murphy Was Adorable
When Silverstone first met her on-screen bestie, Brittany Murphy, she was charmed by her bubbly nature and adorable accent. She prayed Amy would cast her for the part. There were a bunch of girls auditioning that day for the role of Tai, the awkward “ugly duckling” who slowly transforms into a confident swan in the film.
Alicia rushed to Amy that day crying, “I think she’s the one! She was the best one you guys!” hoping her words would make a difference. Luckily, Amy spotted Murphy’s talent too. She told Silverstone, “Uh yeah duh. Of course, she was the best, she’s the one.”
She Slowly Fell in Love With Cher
At first, Alicia Silverstone thought Cher was a materialistic and unappealing character. Really annoying, to be honest,” she told Vogue in an interview for the film’s 25th anniversary, “Just everything I sort of loathed.” But as filming progressed, she grew to see other sides to her.
She realized she was just judging her and that if only she opened her heart a little to Cher’s vulnerable and caring side, she would discover a totally new person. Despite the character’s cringe-worthy aspects, Alicia appreciated how much Cher adored her dad and how she always tried helping her friends whenever they needed it.
Ironically, She Had Zero Fashion Sense
You don’t need to be a huge fashion guru to see how brilliantly sassy Cher’s outfits were. Whenever a new one appeared on-screen, it grabbed your attention, in part because of how tacky it was, but also because it looked so natural on Silverstone. Beautifully tailor-made!
Shooting all those outfit changes was exhausting. “I left every fitting thinking, Oh my god, this is hell,” she admitted. “I knew it was my job, but I would just go do we HAVE to try on another outfit?” Funnily, in real life, Silverstone had zero fashion sense. Her go-to outfit was always jeans and the same basic Gap T-shirt.
An Active Vegan
Alicia’s an active, passionate vegan, who’s been living this lifestyle for the past two decades. She published her own vegan cookbook in 2011 and has been using her social media accounts for years to regularly remind her fans of the meat industry’s cruelty.
She went vegan after petting her rescue dog Sampson and realizing that his leg felt “the same as the sort of chicken breasts I might be eating.”
While the star’s decision to change her diet raised a few eyebrows, raising her son, in the same manner, raised A LOT of eyebrows.
Under Fire for Putting Her Son on a Vegan Diet
People didn’t hesitate to tell Alicia exactly how they felt about her parenting decision to raise her son vegan. They thought she was an irresponsible freak, a clueless mom who was putting her son at risk. But Silverstone is so used to harsh criticism that she never once let it affect her decision.
Alicia boasted that her son, Bear, is as healthy as can be, “He’s never had to take medicine in his life,” she told Page Six. When asked about his favorite part of being vegan, Bear responded, “That you don’t have to eat yucky meat.”
“The Crush” Matured Her
Silverstone’s role in 1993’s enticing drama The Crush was a fun thriller that earned her the title of Best Villain at the MTV movie awards. She was 15 when filming began and said that she felt somewhat connected to her unhinged, violent character. “I don’t know what that says about my state of mind at the time!” she laughed.
During filming, she lived alone in a flat in Vancouver in order to dodge several working restrictions for someone less than 18. She believes that her time on set probably made her miss out on “emotional steps that needed to happen in a normal situation of development.” All things considered though, she doesn’t regret the movie one bit.
Her Zen-Like Parenting
Alicia’s relationship with Bear sounds, at times, too good to be true. They never yell at each other, and when they do get upset, they calmly work things out. “I’ll use a serious voice, but I never yell,” she explained. Bear has adopted her collected spirit and seems to react to her in much the same way.
The two enjoy bouncing on their mini trampoline, jumping rope, dancing, and even taking baths together. Some would say that the last activity is a bit questionable, but to each their own. Bear seems happy. Alicia seems happy. And despite going through a divorce, Alicia has managed to keep the family together, saying that, “Bear and his daddy and I flow really well together.”
No Sugar, No Chemicals, No Gelatin
Alicia is so passionate about clean eating that she co-founded mykind Organics, a line of vitamins that are vegan, non-GMO, and organic. “No sugar, no chemicals, no gelatin,” she boasted in an interview with TODAY parents, “I’m so proud of these products.”
Regarding Bear’s diet, Silverstone says she believes that eating plant-based is what keeps both him and her calm and collected. “When I eat well, I sleep well and then I can be really patient for each little morsel of his being. We only have so much time with these monkeys.”
She Pays Her Ex-Husband $12,000 a Month
In 2016, after 12 years of marriage, Silverstone and her husband Christopher Jarecki called it quits. She tied the knot with the musician back in 2005, gave birth to Bear in 2011, and spent the years with him building a loving family.
Ultimately, due to “irreconcilable differences,” the couple concluded they were better off apart. A source close to Alicia told E! News that, “they still deeply love and respect each other and remain very close friends.” As part of their settlement, Silverstone was ordered to pay him $12,000 a month in spousal support for five years.
In Their Better Days
Back when the pair was very much in love, they exchanged their vows in a beautiful lakeside ceremony at Lake Tahoe. Chris had popped the question a year earlier, and Silverstone dished that it was “the most beautiful proposal” she could have wished for.
“He was waiting on our old wicker love seat, ring in hand, with the most beautiful proposal any best friend could ever give,” she revealed. She added that having to wait until the end of the ceremony to kiss him was a huge struggle. “I was going out of my mind!” she said.
“As If!” and “Totally Buggin'” Were Pulled From a Slang Dictionary
The dialogue in Clueless is iconic, and Silverstone’s lines as Cher are really the crème of the crème. She spices up every situation with whiny slang like “as ifffff” and weird words like “buggin’” (which means upset, freaked out, and confused).
The writers pulled out some of the lingo from an actual slang dictionary. For example, when the characters say that a person is Baldwin, they mean “a handsome or gorgeous man,” referencing the Baldwin brothers (and actors).
The Movie Was Supposed to Be a TV Show
Before Clueless hit the big screens, Amy Heckerling pitched the idea to Fox as a TV series. She told Entertainment Weekly that the show she had in mind was supposed to be called “No Worries.” At the time, Fox said they wanted a show about teens. But cool teenagers, not nerds.
Even though it ended up being a quintessential ‘90s flick, Clueless was so successful that a teen sitcom by the same name was created. It aired in 1996 and ran for two seasons. The idea was cute, but it wasn’t executed as well as the movie was.
Silverstone’s Mispronunciation of Haitians Wasn’t Scripted
In an interview with Vogue U.S., Heckerling revealed that Alicia’s silly mispronunciation of Haitians wasn’t part of the script. But it was such a funny, honest mistake and one that suited Cher’s character perfectly, so she decided to keep it.
“[Silverstone] was doing her lines, and as soon as I said ‘cut,’ the script woman started to walk up to her to tell her the right pronunciation, and I had to run interference and go, ‘Step away from the actress. Stand clear of Alicia Silverstone’,” Heckerling explained.
The Freeway Feak Out Hit Close to Home
There are a bunch of unforgettable scenes in Clueless, but one of the most memorable ones has got to be Dionne’s hilarious and scary ride down the highway. Heckerling told Vogue that the wild scene was based on her own experience.
She suffered most of her life from a serious fear of driving. “Any time I wind up in the lane where you can’t quickly turn off of it, and it’s turning into the freeway, I just start screaming until I’m off of it,” she told the magazine.
Mr. Hall Was Based on a Real Man
The lovable Mr. Hall was based on a real drama teacher who worked at a Beverly Hills high school. The man of the hour, Herb Hall, was invited onto the set for a brief cameo as the school’s principal in the film. After years in the education system, he finally retired in 2014.
“There’s something about teaching,” Herb Hall told The Courier, “I love watching the kids grow as performers and people. To see them progress from terrified freshman to accomplished seniors.” Another interesting fact: The actor who played Mr. Hal, Wallace Shawn, was actually a teacher before switching up his career to acting.
The “Rollin’ With My Homies” Dance Was Improvised
Poor Tai. All she wanted to do in the part scene was impress her crush, Elton, who was too busy swinging back and forth with his homies to the beat and was also too busy drooling over Cher. After hitting her head, Elton makes sure she’s fine by doing these wavey movements to get her to dance along.
As it turns out, Jeremy Sisto, the actor who played Elton, made up the funky moves on his own. He told Vulture magazine, “I think I made that [dance] up. I don’t think we had a choreographer. I did my go-to, funny, whatever-I-thought-was-a-douchey dance at the time.”
There’s a Little Bit of Darian in Every One of Us
When asked about her character in The Crush (1993), Silverstone admitted she felt like every person had a little bit of Darian inside them. “She’s a very complex girl,” she told Rolling Stone, “I don’t believe that Darian does anything to hurt anybody intentionally.”
Fun fact: Reese Witherspoon was offered the role first, but she passed on it because she felt like it was too creepy and didn’t want it on her cinematic resume (even though three years later she starred in Fear, a psychological thriller which was equally creepy).
As a Kid, She Looked Up to Meryl Streep and Jodie Foster
At the start of her career, a little after The Crush and right before Clueless, Silverstone was still trying to figure things out. She wasn’t sure what genre to dedicate herself to and said she was open to trying many new things. But one thing she knew for sure was that she wanted to be respected in the field.
“I want to follow Jodie Foster, She’s so smart, and she’s somebody I really look up to,” she told Rolling Stone back in 1993. She added that she wants to be respected like Meryl Streep, because “everybody looks at her like, ‘Wow, she’s just so great.’”
She Never Wanted to Be a Movie Star
Alicia knew she wanted to perform on stage, but she never had a burning desire to become a movie star. The whole showbiz pressure and sex-symbol thing just wasn’t her cup of tea. “I was just a theater kid. I never wanted to be in movies or TV,” she told The Guardian in 2015, “It was just too much for me.”
Without the motivation to audition for the best movies and keep herself at the top of Hollywood’s food chain, she slowly drifted away from the scene. She wasn’t willing to give in to the industry’s crazy and ridiculous games of power and status.
Using the Spotlight for Something Meaningful
Alicia says she prefers to use her fame to do good in the world instead of chasing after luxurious roles and going crazy with branding. “I decided I would use this to spotlight for something that is very meaningful to me,” she told The Guardian.
“I went on a quest to change the world, to make things better—for children, for the earth, for animals. I wasn’t paying attention to my career. I was paying attention to something else,” Silverstone added. Luckily, over the years, she’s learned a lot more how to balance her philanthropical work and her love of acting.
She Doesn’t Cater to the Mainstream
It’s fair to say, Alicia Silverstone lives her life just the way she wants to. Her beliefs and actions don’t always fall in line with the rest of society. Whether it’s her diet, her parenting style, the career choices she’s made, and the things that she’s said – she has it her way, regardless of what the rest have to say.
While so many cultural trends come and go and are usually followed by Hollywood’s A-listers (from the Kabbalah to face tattoos to Bikram yoga), Alicia has remained loyal to her core beliefs. She doesn’t succumb to trends, which makes her a bit of an odd one in Hollywood, but a trait that makes us love her even more!
Under the Radar
Alicia Silverstone was never a hedonistic wild child who partied with young Hollywood. Although she easily could have been. She blew up at the young age of 17 as Aerosmith’s “chick,” a title that practically begs for things like drug, alcohol and parties. But that was never the case.
The actress was always ahead of her time. She was mature and serious as a kid, and her strong personality kept her name out of the headlines. But her quiet nature also had its cons, and she was often overlooked in an industry where most of the time, the louder you are, the more chance you have to be noticed.