When we heard the news that “Clueless” was turning 25 on July 19, we were, like, totally buggin’. But would we let the anniversary pass without celebrating? As if!
TODAY caught up with three of the movie’s cast members, Wallace Shawn (Mr. Wendell Hall), Twink Caplan (Miss Toby Geist) and Dan Hedaya (Mel Horowitz), to hear their memories from making the beloved teen film.
Wallace Shawn (Mr. Wendell Hall)
Wallace Shawn, who played tough-loving teacher Mr. Wendell Hall, smiled while remembering his first scene in the classroom with the rest of the cast.
“It was kinda wild … And the way it was set up, it was a disorderly bunch, in a certain way. But in a delightful, funny way,” he said.
He enjoyed the role as the clever and kind disciplinarian. Playing a teacher came naturally to Shawn. He had taught drama and Latin in the past and spent a year in India as an English teacher.
He also appreciates how the movie subverts social norms.
“Even the socially awkward teachers are accepted by the more socially adept teenagers. It's a very lovely world that (writer-director) Amy Heckerling has created, and people respond very passionately to that,” he said.
The actor finds “Clueless” fans to be “rather smart and people of good will … If you have a bitter, vengeful, hate-filled soul, I doubt that would be one of your favorite movies.” Ultimately, he takes heart in how “Clueless” is all about people being happy to be with one another — without anything threatening in the way.
“I meet people all the time who love that movie because it's probably a world where people are very fond of each other, and the paranoia and hatred of the real world is left far behind.”
Twink Caplan (Miss Toby Geist)
Twink Caplan is humbled when recognized for playing Miss Toby Geist, one of the film’s charming teachers.
“It moves me to think that I would move anybody or that they would like me that much,” she said.
She believes the movie was well-cast and that Alicia Silverstone as Cher Horowitz, the film’s protagonist, was the perfect fit.
“There's no one in the world that could have played this role because she was so beautiful and so naively approachable and so kind and funny,” she said.
She also loved her time with the late Brittany Murphy, who played Tai. “We kept her in the room for other people's auditions because she was just delicious, such a sweet girl,” she said.
The purity in Miss Geist and Mr. Hall’s relationship has always resonated with her. “When they found each other, it completed them. And it was genuinely kind of pulling your heartstrings.”
Director Amy Heckerling and Caplan had worked together for over 20 years when “Clueless” was filmed. Caplan says Miss Geist was based on a teacher Heckerling had in school. She credits Heckerling for making such a brilliant film.
“This movie that she wrote and directed was so amazing and put every one of us actors in the stratosphere because of it,” she said. “And she is so loved.”
She appreciates the joy the movie brings to people even all these years later.
“Oh, what a great time in life. It was so pure and happy. And the jokes were amazing. But it was a time where all the characters loved each other. They were real friends. And they were rooting for each other. That's what's so wonderful about ‘Clueless’: it was happy. And I think you get happy when you watch it because there's no enemy. There's no bad guy.”
Dan Hedaya (Mel Horowitz)
Hedaya, who played Cher’s tough yet protective father, said some of Mel’s quotes “have become a little bit iconic.”
There’s one line in particular that stands out: When Mel tells Cher’s date, “Anything happens to my daughter, I got a :45 and a shovel. I doubt anybody would miss you.”
“I think Amy (Heckerling) wrote this line right on the spot,” he recalled. “It's brilliant. And fathers who I met have told me, ‘I wish I knew that line.’”
“I have a friend that every time he sees me, he wants me to say that line,” he added.
“(Mel) was very loving,” Hedaya said. “But then you saw him on the phone — he was a lawyer — and he was very aggressive, so there were two elements going on. He was very sensitive and loving and also strict.”
The actor fondly remembers working with Silverstone.
“She was sweet,” he said. “She was wonderful. We had a very good relationship. And I stayed friendly with her for a while. We would have lunch once in a while. She was just a doll, really, and so good. Very natural. Every instinct she had was correct.”
Hedaya, who currently focuses on visual art that can be seen on his Instagram account, says he’s seen each new generation of teens discover “Clueless” since it premiered in 1995.
“The movie, for a teenager, is bursting with life,” he said. “It's about those important teenage years when they're starting to have interest in the opposite sex. And there's a great spirit about the movie — and, you know, clothing and music and dancing and boys and girls. It's got all the elements that are are part of a teenager's life.”
“It appeals to fathers also,” he added, “because of the the caring and the protection and the looking after his daughter the way he does. And I think it's an inspiration — I hope it is — for fathers to be that caring and attentive to their daughters.”