'Clueless' Star Elisa Donovan Reveals The Hilarious Story Behind Her Infamous "Balls Fly At My Nose" Scene
It's been two decades since one of cinema's most iconic films, Clueless , first appeared in theaters. The Amy Heckerling masterpiece, based loosely off Jane Austen's Emma, surrounds Cher, Dionne, Thai, Amber, and more well-to-do teens in Beverly Hills in the mid '90s. Much of the love from the film comes from the seminal costumes, the perfectly cast group of actors, and of course, the oh-so-witty dialogue. "Fans always reference the 'Balls flying at my nose' line," says Elisa Donovan, who played fashion-forward Amber in the film. "Always, always."
If you need a refresher, the scene comes during gym class, when Amber offers the P.E. teacher her excuse for sitting out of tennis practice. "My plastic surgeon doesn't want me doing any activity where balls fly at my nose," says Amber, prompting Dionne's perfectly timed response: "Well there goes your social life."
And while the line is certainly a fan favorite, Donovan didn't initally understand why. "Incidentally, when I first read the script, and when we shot it, I didn't really understand what the line meant," she admits. "I had an 'Ah ha!' moment right after shooting it where I went, 'Ohhh! That's why everyone thinks this is so funny!'"
Outside of her snappy dialogue, Amber is known, perhaps even more so than the film's protagonist Cher, for her ever growing wardrobe. "[Fans] also reference Amber's wardrobe a lot. Pretty much everything was uncomfortable," the actress laughs. "But it was all amazing. I had to be in the hair chair for an inordinate amount of time. I would go in, in my sweats and wet hair at 5 am, and come out at 7 or 8. It was so much fun because it was such a part of her character."
Amber has many memorable threads throughout the film — her red, sailor-esque ensemble, the dress she "borrows" from Cher at the Val party — but her favorite was one that may not have even made it into the film. "There was a military outfit that was probably my favorite," she says. "I don't remember if the outfit is still in the movie, they may have cut the scene, but that was definitely one of my favorites. I love that they were all themed, I loved the thought process of the costume designer, that it always looked like she took something off the runway and wore it in high school."
With two decades of time to separate Donovan from the film, she still has a strong fondness for the film and her Clueless cast. "All of the factors in the movie work. It has that rare magic of a great story, a phenomenal script — which is the start of anything long lasting, I believe — a phenomenal director, and everyone was well cast," she explains. "It tells a timely story, but it tells a very specific story about a specific time. The more specific and unique to a certain time period you are, the more universal it becomes somehow. When everything comes together so perfectly, it really is like magic. I feel so fortunate to be part of something where everything works."
The 20th anniversary edition of Clueless is now out on Digital HD.
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