'Clueless' Turns 20: 7 Stories About the Iconic Film from Amy Heckerling

Writer and director Amy Heckerling discussed the film, which just turned 20.

ByABC News
July 19, 2015, 12:02 AM
Poster for the movie 'Clueless,' 1995.
Poster for the movie 'Clueless,' 1995.
Buyenlarge/Getty Images

— -- I'm buggin'.

Tough as it is to believe, it's been 20 years "Clueless" was released, introducing the world to Alicia Silverstone and entirely new lexicon.

"I didn’t anticipate anything becoming anything," writer/director Amy Heckerling told ABC News when asked whether she expected "Clueless" to become the cult classic that it is.

When the movie came out, it ranked number two at the box office behind "Apollo 13" and grossed $10,612,443. The "Emma" adaptation, which starred Silverstone as rich Beverly Hills high school student Cher Horowitz, ultimately earned $56,631,572 domestically.

Though any child of the '90s can quote "Clueless" endlessly ("As if!"), Heckerling shared a few behind-the-scenes stories that even the biggest fan might not know.

1. Murray and Dionne's spats were based on her parents': Stacey Dash played Cher's best friend Dionne, who was dating a fellow high school student named Murray, played by Donald Faison. They fought constantly -- a concept Heckerling took from a student at Beverly Hills High School who told her that she had friends who once missed prom because they were having a spat. Meanwhile, the fights themselves were reminiscent of arguments she'd watched her parents have, Heckerling added.

2. Some of the lines in the film were improvised: At one point in the film, Dionne yells at Murray for shaving his head and he retorts, "I'm keepin' it real!" In another, Cher mispronounces 'Haitians.' Neither was scripted. "Sometimes they would say, 'I want to say this,' or, 'I heard a kid saying [that],'" Heckerling said. "I was always on the lookout for that."

3. Cher's closet was a high-tech take on paper dolls: Heckerling has always loved paper dolls and based Cher's computerized closet on that. "When we were shooting movies, [taking Polaroids is] what they did with costumes," Heckerling said. "I thought, 'Why do we have to try on different clothes? Why don't we cut up Polaroids and put them together to see what it looks like?'" (And yes, Cher also shares Heckerling's love of photographs, declaring in one scene that she takes pictures of her outfits because she refuses to rely on mirrors.)

4. Many aspects of the film call to mind Heckerling's predilections: Not only did she want Christian, Cher's love interest, to channel a more sophisticated time (Heckerling, like Cher, hated the sloppy way boys her age dressed when she began to date), but she also had Cher wear 1920's-era knee-socks often because they're her "lifelong obsession."

5. Cher's mugging scene was based on a real-life story: Heckerling based the scene in which Cher was mugged on a story she once heard about a TV executive. "He was always dressed like a slob and then he had a wife and she dressed him really nicely. He had a bunch of designer suits and she would give him a lot of trouble if he [ruined them]," she said. "He got held up and the guy said, 'Get on the ground,' and he said, 'I can't. This is Armani.'" Instead of Armani, however, Cher told her assailant that she didn't want to ruin her Alaïa dress. It was chosen because "that dress looked really good on her," Heckerling said, "and we had permission to use the designer's name."

6. The set was a friendly one: "Breckin [Meyer] and Donald were close friends. They had a lot of fun and were always goofing around," Heckerling recalled. "Basically, everybody was really sweet and friendly, and it was great."

7. Casting the teachers as a piece of cake: Twink Caplan and Wallace Shawn played Miss Geist and Mr. Hall, Cher's teachers who eventually find love with each other. Getting them on-board was easy for Heckerling, who was friends with both them.