Remember when Alicia Silverstone was Hollywood’s golden girl?
Paramount Network’s American Woman didn’t fare well at all. The Hollywood Reporter slammed the show – based on Kyle Richards’s upbringing – for having “no real jokes and few limited signs of intended humor” and questioned why women’s struggles of the 70s are “presented as a saga of being beautiful, white, and temporarily economically inconvenienced when it should be much more nuanced.”
Meanwhile, TV Guide lamented how the show wasted the talents of Alicia Silverstone:
She looks about five years older than she did in 1995’s Clueless, and passes herself off as the trophy wife she’s meant to be. The effortless charm is still there, too, but it isn’t able to overcome the parts of Bonnie that Silverstone doesn’t have control over. It’s a shame because the world is ready for Silverstone’s comeback, [sic] it’s just not going to happen yet.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll know that Silverstone has been enjoying a renaissance of sorts in indie films of late, having enjoyed well received roles in Justin Kelly’s King Cobra, Onur Tukel’s Catfight, and Yorgos Lanthimos’s The Killing of a Sacred Deer.
Clearly the indie film community still cherishes Silverstone as an actor, even if the mainstream industry still isn’t quite sure what to do with her. Frankly, that’s a real shame and it’s been something of an issue throughout all of Silverstone’s career.
Despite being heralded as the quintessential 90s star, Silverstone’s career repeatedly stalled when it should have been thriving. However, for a while there Silverstone was undoubtedly Hollywood’s golden girl. We’ve chartered the rise and fall of the beloved actor through eight of her most interesting roles during what should have been the prime of her career.
Teenage Girl: “Cryin’” (1993)
Silverstone exploded onto the scene with her iconic appearance in this Aerosmith music video as an ass-kicking wild child of a young woman getting tattooed, refusing to be tamed, and flipping the bird at her boyfriend while bungee jumping. America was immediately obsessed.
Teenage Girl: “Crazy” (1994)
The starlet followed up her breakthrough music video performance by joining Liv Tyler (daughter of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler) as a pair of runaway schoolgirls who most definitely have the hots for each other.
They drive around in their underwear, steal from a convenience store, and basically seduce each other at a stripclub. It’s still one of the greatest things we’ve ever seen, with the video likely leaving an indelible impression on every child and teenager who saw it in the 90s.
Regina: Hideaway (1995)
Silverstone followed up her small-screen success as rock music’s new It-girl by starring in Brett Leonard’s thriller as the daughter of a man (played by the eternally delicious Jeff Goldblum) who is revived from a car crash only to discover he’s now having harrowing visions of a serial killer’s (Jeremy Sisto) actions. The film was fairly well received by critics and audiences alike. Silverstone had arrived.
Cher: Clueless (1995)
However, it was Amy Heckerling’s comedic masterpiece Clueless that announced Silverstone as being a standout talent of her generation.
Starring alongside Brittany Murphy (8 Mile), Stacey Dash (Renaissance Man), Paul Rudd (Ant-Man), and Donald Faison (Remember the Titans) in the film, Silverstone has perfect comedic timing but is also irresistibly charming in the role. She lends a sweetness and naivety to rich Valley girl Cher Horowitz while giving the character depth and dimension far beyond Heckerling’s already masterfully sharp script.
Batgirl / Barbara Wilson: Batman & Robin (1997)
Shit on Joel Schumacher’s second contribution to the DC Universe all you like – we have a secret soft spot for the camp stupidity of the film despite it being consistently dumped into every “worst movies ever” list going (except ours). To be fair, poor ol’ Silverstone isn’t given much to do in the film besides look adorable, pout a lot, wear leather like a boss, and ride a motorcycle. But fuck it – she does it all with pizzazz and that’s all we care about.
Emily: Excess Baggage (1997)
While fans of Silverstone continued to defend the star’s performance in Batman & Robin, Excess Baggage happened and was a massive box office flop. Starring opposite Benicio Del Toro (Sicario) and Harry Connick Jr. (Independence Day) as a rich kid who fakes her own kidnapping, the movie’s failure was even more of a disappointment considering that Silverstone co-produced it.
In his review of the film, Roger Ebert lamented that the star is simply “coasting . . . on the success of Clueless” in the role while Del Toro steals the show from under her.
Eve: Blast from the Past (1999)
Don’t judge us, okay? But we seriously love this film – it’s impossible not to. For starters, it features Christopher Walken (Seven Psychopaths), Sissy Spacek (Carrie), and Brendan Fraser (The Mummy) in lead roles opposite Silverstone, but it’s also just an incredibly sweet, quirky comedy.
Blast from the Past also succeeds by leaning on the gentle nature of Fraser and Silverstone and their cute chemistry together. The film seemed to suggest that Silverstone was on the rise again after a couple of career setbacks, but sadly it was to be followed by a number of smaller, less successful films and TV show roles.
Heather: Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed (2004)
We’re mentioning this only because we think Silverstone is great in the role as a sniping news reporter and that we only wish Sarah Michelle Gellar (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) could star in more projects with her. Her appearance in the film – which we actually don’t hate – would mark the start of the rest of her career taking on a series of strange and surprising roles in films of varying quality.