Do you remember where you were the first time you heard Cher squeak “ugh, as if!” or Dionne lose that last half of her v-card on an L.A. freeway? In honour of Clueless‘s 22nd anniversary, we rounded up the 20 most totally important things we learned from Jen Chancey’s new book As If! The Oral History of Clueless (Simon & Shuster, $21.99), including who was offered the role of Amber (hint: she went on to swap saliva with Selma Blair), the Scrubs connection, what happened to Cher’s wardrobe, and who was the nicest guy on set (here’s a clue: we love him, man).
1. Clueless was almost called I Was a Teenage Teenager
The project actually began as a TV series for Fox under working titles like No Worries and I Was a Teenage Teenager. It was then developed to be a Fox feature film before moving to Paramount where it was finally green-lit, but not before a period when the stalled project looked like it wasn’t going to happen at all. Imagine life without Clueless? Those movie execs must have been totally buggin’.
2. The movie catapulted Alicia Silverstone to superstardom
Alicia Silverstone, just 18 when the film premiered, inked a deal with Columbia Pictures shortly thereafter for a reported $10 million. Not too shabby for a girl whose most notable screen credits prior to Clueless was appearances in two Aerosmith videos.
3. Clueless was a huge success at both box offices and record stores
Opening day, Clueless recouped almost its entire $13 million budget and within a year, its soundtrack sold enough copies to be certified gold. It even eventually made it to platinum status. It’s also responsible for the now-iconic tunes including No Doubt’s “Just a Girl”, Coolio’s “Rollin’ With the Homies”, and who could forget when they were gonna be a “Supermooooooodel”?
4. Coolio partied at the premiere like it was 1999
The ’90s hip-hop star and movie soundtrack mainstay (Dangerous Minds, anyone?) was quoted as saying he got “white-boy wasted” at the movie’s Malibu premiere.
5. Clueless‘s narrative is based on Jane Austen’s Emma…
Heckerling’s Cher was famously inspired by Austen’s provincial, privileged Emma in the 1815 novel.
6. But wasn’t sophisticated enough for Gwyneth Paltrow, who starred in her own literal adaptation of Emma the following year
In a July 1996 interview with New York magazine, Paltrow was quoted as saying “I think it’s sad that America’s first cultural reference to this movie will be Clueless. I mean, honestly.”
7. Writer-director Amy Heckerling is also the brains behind culturally significant ’80s hit Fast Times at Ridgemont High
Yes, the movie that launched the careers of actors like Sean Penn and Jennifer Jason Leigh (and was responsible for the still-iconic Phoebe Cates red bikini scene).
8. There’s a Scrubs connection
Donald Faison, the actor who played goofy, well-meaning, five-dollars-borrowing Murray, went on to a successful career on the sitcom Scrubs co-starring Zach Braff, who incidentally was considered for the role of Josh.
9. Cher and Josh could have been played by Tiffani Thiessen and Josh Charles
Reese Witherspoon was also reportedly considered for Cher, although newbie Silverstone was the casting director and producer’s top pick from the get-go. Ben Affleck was also considered as Josh, the part that ultimately went to eternal Baldwin Paul Rudd. Now imagine Dave Chapelle as Murray, Lauryn Hill as Dionne, and Jerry Orbach as Cher’s strict tough-loving father Mel. He was offered the role but couldn’t get out of a television contract.
10. The role of lovable stoner Travis Birkenstock almost went to an Avenger, a star of The Big Bang Theory, and Breckin Meyer’s own best friend
Jeremy Renner, Johnny Galecki, and Seth Green were all up for the role.
11. Sarah Michelle Gellar was offered the role of Amber
The part ultimately went to newbie actress Elisa Donovan after Gellar couldn’t get out of her All My Children contract. Another actress who was considered as Amber? Keri Russell of Felicity and The Americans fame.
12. Bespectacled teacher Mr. Hall was based on a real person
The real Herb Hall, a Beverly Hills High School speech teacher who showed Heckerling around the school while she was doing research for the film, is also a trained actor IRL and was cast in the small role of the principal in Clueless, escorting new student Tai Fraser to gym class for the first time.
13. Heckerling’s favourite quote from the film is from the debate scene
“I’ve always loved the way she says it with such assurance,” says Heckerling.
14. Production was pretty much drama-free save a couple of sick days (and a sprained ankle)
Production had to be shut down for two days when Silverstone was sick and Breckin Meyer sprained his ankle on a half pipe while doing his own skateboard stunts.
15. Paul Rudd is a really nice guy IRL
OK, this one is no surprise but we love that Rudd was remembered by crew members as a “sweetheart of a guy”, even handing out wrap gifts in the form of personalized necklaces with the individual’s name written on a piece of rice. (LOL, how’s that for a ’90s throwback?)
16. Two extras went on to get married
A couple of extras volunteered to make out in the pool at the Val party and the rest is history.
17. There were A LOT of hats
Costume designer Mona May says she had “maybe twenty bins, like laundry baskets, full of hats.” The collection included everything from Dr. Seuss hats and brightly coloured fun-fur toppers to Dionne’s iconic lacquered straw chapeau.
18. Murray’s metal-mouth was faux
The movie braces were actually made to hide an extra tooth that actor Donald Faison says “kind of looked weird when I smiled.”
19. The song for the opening scene was almost “Just a Girl“, by then-little-known band No Doubt
The honour ultimately went to “Kids in America” by The Muffs, earning No Doubt’s tune a brief appearance in a later scene.
20. Silverstone got to keep all of Cher’s wardrobe
That’s right, Silverstone never had to fear being ensemble-challenged again, walking with most of Cher’s duds, including the original Jean Paul Gaultier yellow plaid outfit. But—deep breath—the Clueless leading lady was quoted in 2012 as saying she (gasp!) gave most of it away. As. If.