Amy Heckerling’s Three Favorite Scenes in ‘Clueless’ on Its 18th Birthday
Clueless’s iconic lines, memorable cast, and timeless fashion made the film one for the ages. Written and directed by Amy Heckerling (also the director of Fast Times at Ridgemont High), the film has become iconic—a contemporary depiction of the 1990s as a decade, as well as of the trials and tribulations of maturing into adulthood. Friday marked the 18th anniversary of Clueless’s motion-picture release.
As Heckerling tell us, “It’s so weird, 18. When it came out ... it was not treated with any respect ... certainly not treated like, hey, here’s a movie people will ever see again.” In honor of the film’s birthday, Heckerling took us through her three favorite scenes.
Heckerling: The very first day of shooting we had a reading of the script. There wasn’t much of a rehearsal; in fact, I don’t really remember one at all. Alicia [Silverstone, who plays Cher Horowitz] was doing the debate about Haitians coming to America. The first line of her mouth was, ‘Should Hait-i-ans be allowed in America?’ As soon as I said, ‘Cut!’ I loved it. Right as she said it I was like, oh, my God, that’s so fucking cute, because it’s not stupid—it’s just like you haven’t heard the word said. I know I mispronounce things constantly, because maybe I read more than I talk, but I don’t know the proper way to say a lot of things, even though I know what they are. But then I know I look like a moron. So as soon as I said, ‘Cut!’ the script woman and other people started rushing towards her to give her the correct pronunciation. I had to sort of get in front of everybody and be like, ‘Step away from the actress,’ because I didn’t want anybody correcting her. I didn’t want her to have any sense that it was wrong and that it was for comic effect, that we were keeping it. Because that changes how you do it.
Freakin’ Out on the Freeway
Heckerling: The one scene I enjoy a lot is the freeway, because I don’t drive on freeways, because I’m afraid. When I first got my driver’s license, I was hit by a drunk driver. He was coming off of a freeway, and I was hurt pretty badly from somebody driving really fast. I’ve always had a fear of that. So a couple of times in my life I wind up in the lane you can’t get out of, and you’re on the freeway for like one exit, and I pretty much scream the whole way [laughs]. I realize, when people say you take this, and you do that, I always have to ashamedly say, ‘I don’t drive on the freeway.’ In L.A. it’s like a physical handicap. I wanted to make fun of that, of how I feel when that happens.
‘You don’t understand, this is an Alaïa!’
Heckerling: Alaïa, Alaïa. Was that dress even an Alaïa? I’m not sure. [It was confirmed in Fashion Beast’s interview with costume designer Mona May that the dress was in fact an Alaïa.] That situation came from one night when I was having dinner with some agents, and they were telling me about another agent who used to be a slob and then married this woman who really made him over and got him all of these Armani suits. She was really very strong as far as what she wanted him to look like and what he could wear and not wear, and he was completely doing everything she said. And then one night, he was held up. I think he was asked to get on the ground or something. But he was more afraid of his wife than the burglar. And he said, ‘But this is an Armani.’ It’s like he knew his wife would be really mad, and he was more worried about that than the gun. And I thought, oh, my God, that’s amazing. That just kind of stuck with me as a thing to incorporate. I didn’t know the person involved or anything, I just liked the idea.