What the Hell Happened to Alicia Silverstone?
If you ever read the comments section of these articles, you’ve probably seen some discussion of “the Batman curse”. Despite the fact that most of the Batman films have been successful, there does seem to be a trend of Batman actors ending up in What the Hell Happened articles.
Alicia Silverstone had a relatively short career that peaked in 1995 and came crashing down 2 years later in Batman and Robin. Just about everyone associated with the franchise-ending Batfilm suffered some kind of career setback.
But while Chris O’Donnell has finally gotten himself a steady gig on TV and Arnold Scharzenegger retreated to politics, Silverstone’s career has yet to bounce back.
Silverstone started working as a model at age six. She went on to do TV commercials. Silverstone recounted how she got into acting:
At family get-togethers, me and all the other little girls would make up dances and routines for our parents. And relatives would tell my dad, “You’ve got to get her started in the business.” Finally, he started me modeling. I hated it more that anything, but I thought it was an outlet for acting. Then I got my first commercial, for Domino’s Pizza, and I went insane. I was so happy!
Her first acting gig was as a guest star on the TV show, The Wonder Years.
She played Fred Savage’s dream girl which was type casting in 1992.
Silverstone’s film career began with 1993’s suspense flick The Crush.
The Crush was part of a trend in movies that became popular after 1987’s Fatal Attraction. The general theme is that a normal guy (in this case, Cary Elwes) meets a seemingly normal person who turns out to be a homocidal lunatic/stalker. Borrowing from the 1992 movie, Poison Ivy, The Crush made the stalker jail bait.
The original choice to play the teenage stalker was Reese Witherspoon. But she was in Africa filming A Far Off Place. With their first choice unavailable, the casting directors started going through modeling portfolios which is how they came across Silverstone. While filming, Silverstone became an “emancipated minor” at the age of 15. This was done so that she could avoid the restrictions of child labor laws which would have restricted how many hours she could work on the movie. According to Silverstone, it was no big deal:
My parents were a bit concerned. They were afraid I would hold it under their nose and say, ‘You can’t tell me what to do, I’m emancipated.’ But nothing really changed.
In the original cut of The Crush, Silverstone’s character was named Darian. But the name had to be changed for video and TV versions of the movie. Screenwriter Alan Shapiro had based the screenplay on his own personal experiences. The girl who inspired the script was actually named Darian and sued. So the character’s name was changed to Adrian going forward.
Silverstone wasn’t happy with her first movie performance. Just a couple years later, she wished she could do it all over again:
I think about her more now than I did then. I wish I could go back and do the movie again, because it isn’t often that a young girl can be really aggressive and take over the whole movie. I wish I’d had more experience at that time. Now I feel I’m more molded.
Critics didn’t crush on The Crush. In fact, they hated it. It opened in third place at the box office and ended up grossing around $13 million dollars. But it has become a hit on home video.
While The Crush wasn’t a big hit, it brought Silverstone lots of attention. TV producer Aaron Spelling pursued Silverstone to replace Shannen Doherty on Beverly Hills 90210. But Silverstone wasn’t interested:
He already knew I wasn’t going to do it. He said, ‘I really want you to be in my show.’ I think it would have been really detrimental because I want to do films. Also, I just don’t think that there’s a lot of acting going on in that show.
Silverstone lost out on the lead in My Father, The Hero to Katherine Heigl, but she later said she was glad she wasn’t cast:
On My Father, The Hero, I didn’t get it because I was a little bit heavy compared with the girl who did get it, but that was a blessing because the girl runs around in a bathing suit throughout the whole thing. It was the worst movie I’ve ever seen. And the girl was really bad.
Silverstone also appeared in two made-for TV movies; Torch Song and Scattered Dreams. On the subject of Raquel Welch, Silverstone’s Torch Song co-star, Silverstone said:
Everybody warned me. ‘She’s going to be a tyrant because you’re young and beautiful and she’s just going to go crazy,’ She was nice to me, but it must be just horrible, you know. I mean, when the movie aired, people said it should have been about my character. So I sympathize with her.