Sweet smell of excess
20 THE lIST 7—20 Nov 1997
A pin-up since Clueless, an action star as Batgirl, ALICIA SILVERSTONE can wrap Hollywood round her little finger. Now the actress turns producer for Excess Baggage. Words: Anwar Brett
THEY SAY YOU know you’re getting older when the policemen start looking younger, but when a 21-year-old can become a movie producer, times really are a-changing.
Former MTV video queen, pouting starlet and pin-up for a whole pubescent generation, Alicia Silverstone is high up the Hollywood heap. After scoring a big success with the teen comedy Clueless a couple of years ago, she signed a lucrative three- movie deal with Sony Pictures, and the actress-producer pro- nounces herself delighted with the first of these, Excess
Baggage — for which she picked up a pay cheque for a cool $3.3 million.
‘I was involved with every single aspect of this film,’ she beams, ‘even down to the sound mixing. I started by hiring the director, hiring writers, hiring the cast members and scouting locations, set designers, everything.’
Bag lady: Alicia Silverstone
A film which bears an uncanny resem- blance to A Life Less Ordinary, Excess Baggage casts Silverstone as Emily T. Hope, a spoilt rich girl desperate to catch the attention of her cold and aloof father. Her latest attempt involves staging her own kidnapping, then
‘I had no creative interest in Batman & Robin at all. But I was very appreciative of it, being paid to show up when there weren't many lines for me to learn.’
leading daddy to the car park where he will find her in the boot of her car and they can be tearfully reunited.
Her plan works wonderfully until she locks herself, handcuffed and taped up, in the boot. That’s when Vincent Roche (played by former Usual Suspect Benicio Del Toro) unknowingly steals the car, only to find himself at the head of a fast and furious police chase. It’s offbeat casting: perennial eccentric character actor Del Toro opposite the more pert Silverstone.
‘1 was really looking for someone who was going to challenge their role,’ she explains. ‘When I read the script early on, it was not good. I liked the idea ofit and l'saw its potential, but I wanted to bring it up to this new level with an actor who was willing to go there with me.
‘Benicio’s name came up because he’d just come out in The Usual Suspects. It was a strange idea to some people because they thought he’d never been a leading man, so why would I want him when I could have Ethan Hawke or so-and-so else? But I was intrigued by him, so I met him and found he was extraordinarily talented.’
Silverstone - born in San Francisco to English parents — continues to show bound- less enthusiasm for a disappointing film, which no doubt taught her plenty of lessons about Hollywood’s workings. Immediately switching into her role of Batgirl in Batman & Rabin after filming had finished on Excess Baggage, the actress has now seen the busi- ness from two distinct perspectives. She finds being in control of her destiny as a producer is by far the more preferable option.
‘Perhaps because it’s such a merchandising machine I had no creative interest in Batman & Rabin at all,’ she adds. ‘But I was very appreciative of it, being paid to show up when there weren’t many lines to learn and not very much for me to do. I just came to the set. waited forever to do my scenes and while I was waiting I would do business calls for Excess Baggage. Then at night I would go home and work on the editing. It was nice that way, like that was my day job and this was my real job, the one I really cared about.’
Right attitude. wrong film; but with such admirable priorities, it may be only a matter of time before Alicia Silverstone scores another serious hit.
Excess Baggage goes on general release on Fri 21 Nov and will be reviewed next issue.