Imagine a world where the '90s teen classic and feminist masterpiece, Clueless, just doesn't exist — where Cher Horowitz doesn't help the survivors of the Pismo Beach disaster, or assist two teachers in finding love. Or (and this is the most tragic) she doesn't finally realize that Josh is a total babe. As if, right? Well, this was almost the case, according to Cher Horowitz herself. Alicia Silverstone recently revealed the ridiculous reason Clueless almost wasn't made.
In a video interview with Variety released on Wednesday, Silverstone explained that right before shooting for Clueless was about to begin, she got a fax (oh, the '90s!) from director Amy Heckerling telling her the movie wasn't happening. "One studio said no to it, they didn’t think anyone was interested in watching a movie about a young girl,” Silverstone told Variety. "They were like, ‘We don’t think anybody is going to care. It’s not going to sell tickets.'”
Adding further context, in July 2015, Heckerling claimed to Vanity Fair during a 20th anniversary oral history of Clueless that Fox Pictures, which had originally optioned the movie, was concerned it was "too much about one female, and that I should make Josh a bigger part, and he should be living next door, and his mother [should be] in love with her father." (Bustle reached out to reps at Fox for comment, but did not receive an immediate response.) On that note, Silverstone remarked to Variety, “Those people now kick themselves that they were not part of that film."
Seriously, the movie, which reportedly cost less than $13 million to make, became a surprise box office hit that landed at No. 1 on its opening weekend and would go on to earn $56.6 million in the U.S. and Canada. According to Box Office Mojo, which tracks how much money movies make, this would be the equivalent of making a little over $115 million in 2017. Plus, there's the part where it's beloved by almost an entire generation.
Luckily, Paramount Pictures was interested in the Gen-X update of Jane Austen's Emma and green-lit the film. At the time, Paramount was run by Sherry Lansing, who, Vanity Fair reported, liked it so much "that after screening it she didn’t have a single story note." Let's be honest, it's a nearly flawless film.
Silverstone went as far to call it "groundbreaking" when she sat down with Variety, saying it started a teen movie wave leading to a whole lot of copycats. "Then [the studios] were like, 'Oh, let's make a million more like it," Silverstone said, laughing. It's true, but despite there being many, many imitators, there is only one Clueless and it's a cultural touchstone for multiple generations of young women who are still dressing and talking like Cher 'til this day.
It's something that Silverstone doesn't take for granted. In fact, she says she's "grateful" to Heckerling for choosing her for such an iconic role that she can now share with her own kid. Last month, Silverstone went to a screening at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery with her 6-year-old son Bear Blu and said it was "an incredible experience. I'm so proud of that film and so proud that so many people love it."
With each passing year, it seems like even more people love it. And to think, a small-minded exec almost prevented the movie from happening.