Okay, take a moment and sit down, because this fact might blow your mind. Clueless, the iconic teen film, was released in 1995 – that means it’s officially 21 years old now. If Clueless were a person, it would be a sassy Californian 21-year-old rocking a white dress and hitting all the hottest clubs – just not in the Valley, obvs.
While there are many movies that just come and go, there’s no denying that Clueless became a huge deal – to this day, it’s still one of the top choices for any girl’s night in, and who’s surprised? It’s funny, it’s sassy, it has great characters and one liners, and that’s before you even get into the fashion. I mean, there are apps that can accomplish similar things nowadays, but we’re still all holding out for a humongous closet with a computer you can plan your outfits on like Cher had.
Sure, there are a lot of movies from the 2000s when the teen romantic comedy genre really took off, but very few hold a candle to a young Alicia Silverstone and baby-faced Paul Rudd falling in love. You’ve probably watched it enough that you can quote half of the dialogue verbatim, but how much do you know about the stuff that went on behind the scenes when the movie was being made? Here are 15 things that you might not have known about Clueless.
15 Cher had 63 costume changes
When a movie starts out with a scene of the main character planning her outfit for the day with a state-of-the-art (that is, in the 90s) computer program linked to her closet, you know that fashion is going to play a huge part in the movie. Sure, films like The Devil Wears Prada are filled with super chic outfits and designer pieces, but there’s something nostalgic and comforting about the oh-so-90s outfits that the cast wear in Clueless. However, even though Cher had several iconic outfits (the yellow plaid ensemble, that white Calvin Klein dress, the red Alaia, we could go on and on), it might surprise you to find out that she had a whopping 63 costume changes in the movie.
14 Cher and Josh’s relationship was based on a real life relationship
Romantic comedy storylines can often seem a bit farfetched, but it turns out that writer and director Amy Heckerling’s inspiration behind Cher and Josh’s relationship was very close to home – it was based on how her grandparents got together! Her grandparents were stepbrother and stepsister, like Cher and Josh, who met one another after their widowed parents fell in love and re-married. Anyone who saw Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd’s adorable chemistry in the film had no problem believing in the storyline, but the fact that Heckerling based it on a real life situation is pretty cool.
13 Clueless is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma
Next time anyone throws shade about Clueless, saying it’s just a fluffy chick flick, you can let them know that it was actually inspired by a serious literary work. Heckerling, the writer and director of the film, had read Austen’s Emma when she was in college, and found herself surprised at how many similarities the plotlines and romantic escapades from the book had in common with television shows. So, though she set it in modern day Beverly Hills rather than in the English countryside in the 1800s, the flick’s romantic storylines and comedy of error matchmaking plots are inspired by Austen.
12 Alicia Silverstone didn’t have to audition for the role
When you’re casting the lead roles for a film, particularly if you’re a writer and director who doesn’t have a ton of credits, you want everything to be perfect. Plus, competition for coveted parts in Hollywood is often fierce. You would assume that Silverstone had to beat out countless actresses and attend callback after callback before the casting team made the choice to give the role of Cher to the young starlet, right? Well, not exactly. Heckerling apparently absolutely adored Silverstone in the Aerosmith video “Cryin’” and decided she would be the perfect fit. Heckerling merely had lunch with Silverstone to confirm that her intuition was right before offering her the role that would make her a household name.
11 Stacey Dash was the oldest cast member
While it’s becoming a bit of a trend to cast actors and actresses in their mid to late 20s as high school students or even younger, back when Clueless was being filmed, most of the cast weren’t much older than the characters they were portraying. Alicia Silverstone and Brittany Murphy were both in their teens and most of the supporting cast was in their early 20s – Donald Faison, who played Murray, actually celebrated his 21st birthday while filming. However, there was one cast member whose age will likely surprise you – Stacey Dash, the iconic Dionne herself. Dash completely fits in with Silverstone and Murphy, and you’d assume that she was in her late teens or early 20s at the most at the time of filming, but Dash was actually a 27 year old mother with a 6-year-old son at home.
10 Heckerling invented a lot of the slang
There are few films that have given the public as many phrases and terms as Clueless. Sure, Mean Girls tried to make “fetch” happen, but let’s be honest – Clueless was king when it came to awesome slang. From Bettys and Baldwins, buggin’, wiggin’, going postal, and of course, the iconic “as if!” Clueless definitely gave audiences tons of slang to use after they had seen the movie – in fact, the studio making the film even released a booklet of Clueless terminology to promote the film. However, if you’re thinking that they were just common 90s slang terms, you’d be wrong – most of the cast didn’t even know what the terms meant, because Heckerling herself invented them!
9 It was the costume designer’s first film job
While Clueless is always going to be remembered for the sharp writing and witty dialogue, there’s absolutely no way to ignore the fashion in the film. From Cher to Dionne to Tai to Josh, everyone in the film had outfits that were totally reflective of their personalities, and in the case of Cher and Dionne, were often 100% over the top and fantastic. However, the costume designer responsible for creating the film’s fashion identity wasn’t exactly a seasoned pro – in fact, Clueless was costume designer Mona May’s first feature film job. After she established herself as a costume guru, May went on to create the costumes for films like Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion and Never Been Kissed.
8 Amy Heckerling went back to high school for inspiration
When she was thinking about the perfect setting for the story that she had envisioned, Heckerling soon decided that a Beverly Hills high school would be the ideal place to let the film unfold. However, she wanted to make it realistic and believable, not like a writer creating faux teenage dialogue. So, the dedicated Heckerling actually audited several classes at a high school in the area in order to get a better feel for how teenagers in that time period were actually talking and interacting. Her research definitely paid off!
7 Cher’s mispronunciation of Haitians wasn’t scripted
Who could forget Cher’s hilarious speech in the debate with Amber in which she mispronounces Haitians? Well, it turns out that while her debate speech was scripted, the mispronunciation wasn’t part of it. Silverstone actually mispronounced the word, and Heckerling thought it was just a perfect moment and utterly Cher. So, when members of the crew started to head towards Silverstone to notify her of the mistake, Heckerling quickly pulled everyone back and allowed the scene to continue. According to Heckerling, “There’s something you do when you’re completely confident that just can’t be replicated when you know you’re doing something wrong.” Not correcting Silverstone on the pronunciation made for a much better scene.
6 The freeway scene was inspired by Heckerling’s own driving
The scene where Cher, Dionne and Murray are screaming their way down the freeway in the convertible is one of the most memorable parts of the movie, and for any teenager just learning to drive at the time, something that was hilariously relatable. However, it turns out that the scene was inspired by Heckerling’s own experience behind the wheel. Apparently, Heckerling is a bit of a nervous driver, and she has a similar experience that the passengers in the car did in Clueless. According to Heckerling, “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.”
5 Heckerling has a cameo in the movie
Every now and then, a writer or director will have a short little cameo in the film that they’re creating, just for a bit of fun. Heckerling carried on this tradition in Clueless, but it wasn’t for the reason that you might think. It turns out that Heckerling is very close friends with Twink Caplan, the actress who played Mrs. Geist, so she ended up making a cameo as Mrs. Geist’s maid of honour in the wedding scene that concludes the film. The woman jostling Cher in the bouquet toss? That’s the woman responsible for the whole movie!
4 Alicia Silverstone and Breckin Meyer were BHH Veterans
In the film, the high school that Cher and her squad attend is called Bronson Alcott High. However, Heckerling based it on an actual high school in the Beverly Hills area where she did her research – Beverly Hills High. And it turns out that two of the cast members were actually familiar with Heckerling’s inspiration, having attended the school. Alicia Silverstone and Breckin Meyer, who played Travis, both attended Beverly Hills High, rubbing shoulders with other future celebrities and the children of the rich and famous on a daily basis.
3 The film was shot in 40 days
For those of us who are unfamiliar with how the behind the scenes and production aspects of making a movie work, it might seem like it would take absolutely forever to produce a feature film. While there’s definitely a lot of work that goes in before anyone is even cast, and once the actors have all done their part, the actual filming schedule took place over 40 days. 40 days of hard work in order to be part of cinematic history? Seems like a great trade-off!
2 Roles were hot, hot, hot
It’s difficult to predict which films are going to turn out to be huge successes, and which ones will be pretty much forgotten a year or two after they’ve been released. The writer and director behind Clueless had only one major credit to her name – the teen comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High – but somehow word got around Hollywood and tons of future A-Listers ended up auditioning for parts in the film. Southern belle Reese Witherspoon and Sarah Michelle Gellar both auditioned for the part of Cher, Zooey Deschanel auditioned for, believe it or not, Amber, Terrence Howard was a potential Murray, and hip hop star Lauryn Hill was in the running for Dionne.
1 There are 53 kinds of plaid in the movie
From the iconic yellow plaid skirt set on, there’s definitely a lot of one particular pattern in the film’s fashion choices. Forget stripes, forget polka dots – at the fictional Beverly Hills High in the 1990s, it was all about plaid. Costume designer Mona May apparently used 53 different types of plaid or tartan in the film’s outfits. Next time you watch the movie, keep an eye out for all the different types and colours of this favorite pattern.