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Alicia Silverstone
© Jean-Paul Aussenard/WireImage.com
Silverstone Strikes Back
Despite some career missteps, the '90s 'It' girl is back in top form

By Angela Dawson
Entertainment News Wire


HOLLYWOOD -- Alicia Silverstone was the "It Girl" of the 1990s with her unforgettable turns as the sexy teen vixen in "The Crush" and the well-meaning but ditzy high school heroine in "Clueless." She was later tripped up by career missteps such as "Batman & Robin" and "Excess Baggage." But, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, Silverstone, 27, is back.

Over the past year or so, the blond beauty has gained new ground and re-established herself, making her Broadway debut in "The Graduate" and starring in the promising NBC comedy series "Miss Match." She's currently appearing in a small but pivotal role in the comedy sequel "Scooby-Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed," playing a gossipy TV reporter.

Silverstone is busy behind the scenes as well. Her company, First Kiss Productions, produces the Emmy-nominated animated children's series "Braceface" on ABC Family channel.

"I feel lucky," Silverstone says, fidgeting with an empty water bottle. "I have a great life. I'm always learning new things and I'm into self-growth. I always have things I'm working on."

Silverstone still possesses the girl-next-door-with-attitude charm that made her an overnight sensation in the early 1990s. But she also appears to have gained more confidence in herself as she's traveled the bumpy road of show business.

Committing to nine months on "The Graduate," starring Kathleen Turner (as Mrs. Robinson) and Jason Biggs, was a big step for the native San Franciscan. With little stage experience, jumping into the demanding role of Elaine Robinson in the touring company and then on Broadway was a big deal for her.

"Whenever I'm offered something, it becomes the biggest decision ever," she explains, her green eyes widening. "I'm a Libra, so decision-making is incredibly excruciating. At a restaurant, I can look at a menu for an hour and a half. I have to ask people to be quiet and not talk to me while I'm deciding. Same thing with clothes -- 'Will I wear this?' So you can imagine, for me to pick something that's going to consume a big part of my life, I have to sit down and weigh all the pros and cons."

She is thoroughly satisfied with her decision, declaring that performing in "The Graduate" was "the best time of my life."

"I wanted to go back to the roots of why I liked acting in the first place," she recalls, sitting with her feet tucked under her on a hotel love seat. "Like when I did 'The Crush' and stuff. As a 15-year-old, I was just present and in the moment, making things up and going crazy (with the part). That's what's fun about acting."

Doing theater gave Silverstone a rush she hadn't experienced in a long time, she says. Even on nights when she was feeling tired, she always got a burst of adrenaline right before her cue to go onstage. She cried during her final curtain because she felt so sad that she wouldn't be performing the role again. "I hope to do (theater) again as soon as possible," she says.

For now, though, she'll be acting in movies and working on her TV series.

She agreed to play pesky reporter Heather Jasper-Howe in "Scooby-Doo 2" because the character appealed to her. "When they asked me to take a look at (the role), I watched the first movie because I hadn't seen it," she says. "I expected to not like it because, you know, I'm 27 and this is 'Scooby-Doo.' But I really loved it. It was such a great movie for young people and I thought it was so cute and sweet."

"It seemed like a great job: a small part in Vancouver," she recalls. "I had a great time. I went on romantic dinners with myself while I was there and met a really nice girl that I became good friends with."

Silverstone, who watched "Scooby-Doo" as a child, is a longtime fan of the classic TV show. "My favorite character has always been Scooby," she says.

Most of Silverstone's scenes in "Scooby-Doo 2" are with Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr., who respectively play Daphne and Fred, the leaders of the mystery-solving gang. With her good looks and clever wordplay, Silverstone's reporter manages to dupe Prinze's Fred into saying things which she later replays out of context on her news program.

For an actress who has had her share of bad press -- she was blasted for gaining weight before her "Batman & Robin" role and she's been romantically linked over the years with various Hollywood hunks -- it would seem a golden opportunity to exact revenge. But Silverstone doesn't see it that way.

"It's fun to think about now, but I never thought about it before," she insists. "Heather believes she's the finest journalist in the world. I never thought of any specific journalist and I never thought of it as revenge."

"It's funny in the part where she says, 'My editor made me do it,'" she continues. "That happens a lot. But I think it's true and I think people really do say it. I think editors ask for crazy things."

As for her sitcom "Miss Match," the show recently wrapped production on its first season and is awaiting word from NBC on whether it will return in the fall. Silverstone plays a lawyer who moonlights as a matchmaker. Ryan O'Neal portrays her father.

Scheduled opposite established Friday prime-time shows, "Miss Match" has struggled in the ratings. "It's hard when you're on Friday night," Silverstone says. "My mom would tell me that she taped the show. My mother's in her 60s and she's taping the show because she's got busy plans on Friday night! Everybody's got plans on Friday night."

The actress is crossing her fingers, but whether or not the show is renewed, she says the experience has been rewarding. She made great friends with the cast and crew as well as NBC president Jeff Zucker and producer Brian Grazer.

Having twice played a matchmaker on-screen ("Clueless," "Miss Match"), has Silverstone ever played cupid in real life? "I'm a terrible matchmaker," she reveals with a giggle. "I know about 30 single women looking for a guy and only one single guy and that guy is gay."

Silverstone also says she wouldn't want to accept the responsibility that goes along with hooking people up, "so it's best that I stay out of it."

The single actress says no one has ever tried to set her up on a date. There's no point in doing it now, though. She has a boyfriend.

A longtime animal rights advocate, Silverstone shares her Los Angeles home with three dogs she rescued from the pound -- Butterfly, a pit bull; Lacy, a Chow mix; and Sampson, a mutt she's had for years. She calls Butterfly the princess of her house and admits to spoiling her. "I'm obsessed with her belly," Silverstone says. "I love rubbing her belly. It's so soft."

She says pit bulls get a bad rap because some people train them to be aggressive. Her love of animals has led her to support various animal rights groups. She's also a longtime vegan. Eliminating meat products from her diet, she says, helped her slim down.

While eager to resume her TV series in the fall, Silverstone isn't waiting for the phone to ring. Instead, she's perusing scripts and fixing up her house. "I haven't been home for, like, the past two years," she says. "My big thing I want to do right now is organize my house. It's driving me insane. If I can get the closet finished before my next project, I'll be happy."

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