Girls in my high school wore tanks over tiny tees and plenty of plaid after Clueless debuted in theaters on July 19, 1995. An instant favorite, Clueless was tailor-made for the skirts, but remained totally watchable by dudes as well. Its writer/director, Amy Heckerling, was responsible for the seminal teen comedy of the early '80s (Fast Times at Ridgemont High) and she did it again in 1995 while making a star out of Alicia Silverstone.
Clueless encouraged the careers of everyone in its cast, but its influence was much heavier on the way teens walked and talked. It was a dream for fashion-lovers (Cher's computerized closet was mind-blowing) and the movie was easily quotable to boot. Heckerling had tapped into something and 25 years later, the film still holds up. The characters are sweet and natural, borrowed from Jane Austen, and the language endures. So let's celebrate the anniversary of Cher and Dionne, Elton and Murray, and Mr. Hall and Miss Geist. Here are 20 things you may not know about the 1995 comedy:
1. Heckerling was asked by Paramount to write a movie for teenagers. The request made her think of Jane Austen's novel Emma, and Heckerling borrowed its plot, characters, and themes to make Clueless.
2. Fans of Austen and Emma can note that Cher is Emma, Josh is Mr. Knightley, Tai is Harriet Smith, Elton is Mr. Elton, Travis is Robert Martin, Christian is an updated version of Frank Churchill, and Dionne is partially Mrs. Weston. Although Cher matchmakes Mr. Hall and Ms. Geist so they are more likely Mr. and Mrs. Weston, whom Emma matches in the novel.
3. Heckerling met with Reese Witherspoon, Zooey Deschanel, Keri Russell, Alicia Witt, and Tiffani Thiessen for the role of Cher. Angelina Jolie and Gwyneth Paltrow were both considered, but neither auditioned. Alicia Silverstone was chosen and did not have to audition.
4. Ben Affleck, Jeremy Renner, and Zach Braff all auditioned for Josh, but Paul Rudd beat them out.
5. Rudd auditioned for the roles of Josh, Christian, Elton, and even Murray. He assumed Murray was a white teenager trying to act like a rapper.
6. Lauryn Hill auditioned for the role of Dionne, which went to Stacey Dash. Dash was 27-years-old during filming, the eldest of the "teen" characters.
7. Dash is three years older than Rudd, who plays the older college guy, Josh.
8. Terrence Howard and Dave Chappelle auditioned for Murray, but the role was given to Donald Faison.
9. Owen Wilson and Seth Green both auditioned for Travis, but Breckin Meyer won out.
10. Sarah Michelle Gellar was offered the role of Amber, but had to turn it down when her soap opera All My Children refused to allow her time away.
11. More casting nuggets: Jamie Walters and Renner also tried out for Christian, which was given to Justin Walker. Leah Remini and Alanna Ubach auditioned for Brittany Murphy's role: Tai. Jerry Orbach was offered the role of Cher's father, Mel Horowitz, but couldn't get time away from Law & Order. And Harvey Keitel was considered for Mel also, but was deemed too expensive.
12. The cast had so much trouble holding a real credit card during the "Suck and Blow" scene, a prop card made of cardboard was made, but even that didn't work. They tried drilling holes in it to make it lighter, but still, nothing. Finally, the actors were given heavy chapstick to make the thing stick and the scene was shot.
13. Silverstone really didn't know how to pronounce "Haitians" in the classroom scene and Heckerling liked it so much she kept it. Cher's debate speech in that scene was initially a full minute longer and can be seen in its entirety in the first original theatrical trailer (below).
14. Writers sat in on classes at Beverly Hills High to listen to the students.
15. There are 53 different kinds of plaid used in the film, seven of which are worn by Cher, and twelve by other major characters.
16. When the new guy first appears in class, Cher has new hopes for high school boys. But, as the shot pans from her gaze to Christian in the doorway, just over his left shoulder is a cut out headline from a newspaper which reads "On the Road to Nowhere."
17. Christian's sexual preference is symbolically hinted at throughout the film. At the museum, he's standing in front of a painting of two men kissing. The films he picks to watch with Cher are both hints. Some Like it Hot features cross-dressing men escaping from the mob, and Spartacus has a famous scene where Laurence Olivier tries to seduce Tony Curtis. Plus, Christian reads Junky by gay legend William S. Burroughs.
18. Christian's little convertible is a 1954 Nash Metropolitan.
19. Heckerling cameos as Miss Geist's maid of honor in the wedding scene. And she's also the source of the struggling when the bouquet is tossed.
20. The sequence where Cher wanders around and realizes her true feelings for Josh as fountains erupt behind her is borrowed from Gigi. And the music playing when she stands at the top of the stairs in her white dress before her date with Christian is a reference to Gigi also.