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How Old Was Alicia Silverstone In Clueless?

When Alicia Silverstone portrayed Cher Horowitz in 1995's "Clueless," a new bar was set for teen characters. Somehow, this ditzy, spoiled, out-of-touch, rich girl also manages to score high on the likability scale. She may be a bit overbearing in attempting to upgrade her new friend, Tai (Brittany Murphy), but viewers never doubt Cher's heart is in the right place. She's aspirational — as in, it's fair to say plenty of teen girls watching kind of want to be her: pretty, popular, sweet, yet oblivious enough not to let her privilege go to her head too much. While aspects of Cher's character may be overdrawn, ultimately she's real. She feels the pain of her own failures and cluelessness in ways only a teenage girl can. And that's all Silverstone, who took on the role from her own perspective.

Producers have a choice when they cast teen films. They can fill the roles with actual teenagers. Or they can opt for older actors with a longer view on the teen years. It's impossible to tell by looking at Silverstone in this film which camp she fits into. But examining her previous roles does offer some clues.

Silverstone got her start as a dream girl

When Alicia Silverstone made her first TV appearance in 1992, she played Jessica Thomas on "The Wonder Years." It was just one guest spot, but she made a lasting impression as Kevin's dream girl in Season 5, Episode 11, "Road Test." By that point, viewers know all about Kevin's on again off again crush on Winnie Cooper, and we've watched him grow from 12-year-old kid to teenager working toward getting his driver's license. In fact, Jessica is the reason he's so motivated to get it. He wants to go out with Jessica, and he doesn't want his mom acting as chauffeur.

While the plot turns away from romance toward Kevin's bungled attempts to parallel park — and Jessica doesn't remain his love interest beyond the episode — Silverstone made her mark as an enchanting and believable teenager. And why not? She came at the role from a very real place as a 15-year-old at the time.

Alicia Silverstone had more than a crush

The following year, Silverstone took a role that offered a much different take on teens and romance. When she landed the part of Darian Forrester in the 1993 film "The Crush," she was excited to take on the challenge. Throughout the film, Darian starts off vulnerable, but is quickly revealed as obsessive and downright crazy. "I felt so connected to the material for some reason," she told The Guardian. "I don't know what that says about my state of mind at the time!"

The character she played was a 14-year-old girl in love with a grown man, and the age difference definitely adds to the creep factor. The fact is, Silverstone was a minor on set, too. She was still 15 years old when she took the part and turned 16 during filming. During that time, she became an emancipated minor to get around laws that limited her ability to work as a teen. Her efforts paid off, as people in the entertainment industry took notice of the rising star.

She was a rock n' roll muse

Silverstone's turn in "The Crush" led to her next major onscreen opportunity. According to Rolling Stone, director Marty Callner saw her in the movie and knew she'd be perfect in a music video for Aerosmith's song "Cryin.'" Next thing she knew, she was in the band's "Amazing" video, too. By 17, she was known as "the Aerosmith chick," and it troubled her. She didn't want people to forget she was a serious actress. As it turned out, the videos actually led to more film work when director Amy Heckerling saw '"Cryin'" and "just went cuckoo bananas," she told Rolling Stone. "She's funny and beautiful – anyone who shows even a glimmer of that mix becomes a major star."

When Silverstone was cast in "Clueless," she was still a teen herself. At 18, she took on one of her most memorable roles to date, delivering a performance that transformed a teen film into a lasting cult classic.