Every good romantic comedy ends with a kiss, and the 1995 classic Clueless is no exception. In this excerpt from author Jen Chaney’s As If!: The Oral History of Clueless, the film’s principles, including stars Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd, as well as writer-director Amy Heckerling, tell the behind-the-scenes story of how the film arrived at the wedding-day smooch between Cher (played by Silverstone) and Josh (played by Rudd).
As if ! I’m only sixteen.
And this is California, not Kentucky.
Production info: The wedding of Mr. Hall and Miss Geist — not of Cher and Josh, because: as if! — was shot in the backyard of the Encino home that doubled as Cher’s house. The wedding dates, i.e., the two days during which the sequence was shot: Thursday, January 19, and Friday, January 20, 1995, days forty and forty-one of production.
What happens, CliffsNotes version: Miss Geist and Mr. Hall get married. Cher catches the bouquet thrown by Miss Geist, thereby winning a bet regarding which girlfriend could snag the flowers. To the tune of General Public’s “Tenderness,” Cher and Josh share a major, openmouthed kiss, bringing our movie to a happy, romantic ending.
Steven Jordan, production designer: We must have set up that wedding five or six times. We would set it up in the backyard the day before. The weather would come in, we’d take it all in and dry it all out. The rain on the movie that year, in January, was just phenomenal. And finally the sun came out. We were able to shoot it.
Amy Wells, set dresser: I don’t remember the rain. I mean, I remember setting up and putting everything out. We had a lot of flowers. It’s a pretty big scene, a lot of decoration … We brought in the chairs, the flowers. We had to do a riser, all that kind of stuff. It was just like doing a regular wedding, except it’s not.
Bill Pope, director of photography: By then, everybody was their characters.
I remember looking up and seeing the boys around the table and they were talking amongst themselves, boys about girls. And they were making husband jokes: Henny Youngman–ish husband jokes. And I was like, they already have this rapport with one another and they are a unit.
Donald Faison, Murray: We were all really tight already, by that time. That was toward the end of the movie. That was one of the last days of shooting. It was great to have us all together. When you look at it, it’s like, wow, there’s the three besties with the three besties, you know what I mean? It was great.
Elisa Donovan, Amber: Jeremy and I were supposed to be sitting together at the table. And I think I had a couple of lines, too, and they had to get cut because Jeremy wasn’t there for some reason. [Laughs] Maybe I shouldn’t be saying that. I don’t know what happened but he wasn’t there. So I was super bummed because … they just sort of cut it out, whatever I was supposed to do. Which wasn’t a lot but, you know. I still wanted it to happen.
Jeremy Sisto, Elton: I do vaguely remember running to set or something weird about that day, so that must have been it.
Amy Heckerling, writer-director: I remember Donald was having some trouble saying some of the words in the dialogue. So I go, “Okay, okay, we got it.” Because I felt like sometimes it was easier for him when the camera wasn’t on him. Then I start to film what they all think is Breckin’s close-up. But actually, I start the shot on Breckin and we ease the camera over onto Donald, so we catch his line when he thought he was off-camera. But then Breckin went, “Hey, wait a minute!” Because he saw that the camera wasn’t on him.
Donald Faison: Breckin and I, we pretty much shared a trailer when we were filming the movie and we only had two scenes together. That’s when I’m arguing with Dionne, and then, I want to say in Mr. Hall’s class or Miss Geist’s class. We didn’t have a lot to do [together]. That was the one time we actually interacted throughout the whole movie. We were like, that’s cool. At least we know we end up buddies.
Breckin Meyer, Travis: [Playing Suck and Blow] is the only time I think [I’d] come close to kissing Brittany, because we never actually kissed and we’ve played boyfriend-and-girlfriend probably four or five times. Even in Clueless, at the end of the movie, I’m supposed to give her a kiss at the wedding scene. Because Brittany has always been so close to me and like a sister, you’ll see in the movie that I just kiss her on the top of the head, like she’s my half sister or something.
Adam Schroeder, producer: The entire cast and everybody was dressed to the nines … that was really fun because [Paul Rudd] wasn’t with the full cast ever, except for that. So that was really cool.
Paul Rudd, Josh: I was excited because finally I was getting to shoot with other people when, it’s like: we did the readings together, we were around together, we would shoot different scenes on the same day. Like I said, I became friends with Breckin and Donald, so I was psyched to finally get to shoot a scene with everybody.
Donald Faison: When [Paul] says, “I’m totally buggin’ myself,” that was improv. When you see us laughing at the end, we’re literally laughing for real because nobody expected him to say that. And how he said it.
Paul Rudd: I think sometimes I would say, “I’m bugging.” Not buggin’, bugging — “I’m bugging myself.” And then we kept trying to do different versions of it. Then we all couldn’t stop laughing for a little too long.
We got real punchy and couldn’t stop, to the point where the crew and Amy, they were getting a little annoyed. We were shooting outside. We were racing against the light: Come on, guys. Keep it together.
Breckin Meyer: We lost it. That was it that was the end of the day for us. We could not do it.
Stacey Dash, Dionne: That’s how much fun we were having. You never knew: It could be just one word that hit somebody funny, you know, or hit somebody’s funny bone and the next thing you knew, it was just contagious.
Mona May, costume designer: My favorite! I love the wedding! Because I got to design everything … For the guys, what’s really cool is to have that eighties, edgy, hip look. So it’s kind of like skater punk for Travis. I think Paul Rudd had a 1950s, shawl-collar jacket, and the sharkskin blue for [Christian’s tuxedo]. It just really was funky cool. I wanted [the guys] to have some more character.
Paul Rudd: I remember liking the suit that I wore, with the black tie, and that I was psyched that Amy wanted to put me in a thin black tie. I was like, “Yes! Right on!”
Nina Paskowitz, lead hairstylist: Sadly, what I remember was that I got sick the day before. I ended up suddenly having to leave the set and having to go almost to the emergency room. It was a weird thing. I went to my doctor that next morning and he’s like, oh, you’ve got what’s called slapped-cheek disease. I’m like, what’s that? He’s like, well, in kids it’s like a cold. In adults, it’s more like getting almost the chicken pox. It’s, like, horrible. Because I was around so many kids, I probably got it from one of the background kids or someone’s brother or sister or somebody.
So DJ, who was my second or third [hairdresser], ended up doing Alicia’s hair for that scene. It all worked in the end. It was beautiful. I was really, really disappointed not to be there. It’s the only scene I missed and of course, it’s that huge scene.
Twink Caplan, associate producer and Miss Geist: It was fun for me because I forced Amy to be my best lady, my best woman in it, even though Cher was there.
Amy Heckerling: I’m the bridesmaid with her when they walk down the aisle.
Twink Caplan: If I was going to get married, even if it was fake, Amy would have been my maid of honor. She edited most of herself out and she was shy, you know, to be on that side of the camera. But she did it for me and I loved it.
Alicia Silverstone, Cher: My mom and Amy were both in the scene, so that was fun.
Paul Rudd: Carl Gottlieb was in it briefly and was a friend of Amy’s. I think he was the priest who marries them at the end. The thing I knew about him, because I was such a Steve Martin fanatic, was what a great comedy writer Carl Gottlieb was, and that he was Iron Balls McGinty from The Jerk. That was totally mind-blowing to me.
Wallace Shawn, Mr. Hall: I also found that part of the plot so moving and adorable, the way they set us up, Miss Geist and myself. The decency of these characters and the way they do nice things, not really out of principle but more out of instinct. In this world that Amy has created, some of the rules of the world are set up so people learn to be more compassionate and nice to each other and understanding of each other, without consciously adopting new principles. This is the meaning of the film.
Twink Caplan: I was really humbled to even work with Wally. I really adore him. He is just a lovely man in every way: gentlemanly, and just kind and so smart. Every time I see him, it’s like he’s still my husband.
We actually did one thing where I walked down the aisle with Paul and kissed him because that was going to be in a dream sequence Cher had. But then it got edited and we didn’t use it. [It was] something like, Cher has this dream that I guess Paul marries me, you know, because she’s going to the wedding anyway. She has this nightmare that it’s really him [marrying Miss Geist]. I guess subconsciously she’s — you know what I mean? — figuring out all this stuff … that day I got kissed by both guys: Paul and Wally.
Mona May: I got to design the wedding dress for Twink, for Miss Geist.
Twink Caplan: I loved the dress … I remember Mona got me a slant board [to lean against instead of sitting] because my dress was absolutely fitted to me. It was like a size 2 and it was designed for me and fitted for me and everywhere I went — [if] I went to eat something, Mona would be behind me. “Don’t eat that! I’m not going to make the dress over!” Because if you gained an ounce it wouldn’t fit. It was the most stunning dress. A high collar — it was just gorgeous.
Mona May: We wanted to make Miss Geist beautiful, to kind of come out of her shell. Here she is: it’s almost like unveiling her to the world. To me, it was very Paris, with her little fascinator that I made for her on the top of her head, with the flower. Kind of the very architectural dress, which was interesting and hard to make because it was kind of the Morticia shape. But she had a high collar in the back and also the back open. I don’t know if we ever even see the back open in the film. It was quite an interesting design and I think beautifully executed by my seamstresses. And I think it just turned out gorgeous on her.
Barry Berg, producer and unit production manager: I guess it’s something that as a guy, I probably didn’t really understand and that was that they really wanted a terrific-looking, special, expensive wedding dress [for Miss Geist]. And I kept saying: “Well, guys, it’s just a film. Nobody — they won’t know how much we spent” … [but] we did spend quite a bit of money on the wedding dress. And Twink looked beautiful in it.
Mona May: And then the bridesmaids: I got to make all the bridesmaids’ pink little outfits — shift dresses with little jackets. Also I got to dress Amy. It was so much fun.
Stacey Dash: I remember really trying to get the bouquet. That’s what I remember.
Amy Heckerling: I used to play this game with my daughter. It always ended with people getting married when we played Barbies. She always wanted a wedding at the end, right? So we’d be playing Barbies, then all the dolls would start fighting in a big mob at the end over who caught the bouquet. It would turn into a wrestling match. Then they would all jump off the table. You know, we were just screwing around.
So I wanted the girls [in Clueless] to be really fighting, really aggressively fighting. And they were all being very tame. So I put back on my bridesmaid outfit so I could get in the middle of them and just start pushing them around. They weren’t doing anything. They were just being polite. So I got everybody to push around. Then they all fall on the floor, and [Cher] gets up triumphantly. The falling just happens because everybody is shoving and pushing.
Alicia Silverstone: I remember having the instinct that Cher would be superaggressive and crazy going after the bouquet.
Elisa Donovan: The bouquet throwing — I mean it was all really fun. I remember it being difficult to move in that dress. It wasn’t a tight dress, but the material — I think the waist was really tight or something. When I was falling I was like: Oh, I’m really falling down. I’m not going to be able to get back up!
Danny Silverberg: [When Cher and Josh kiss] in fact, we all had to wrap our head around: Are they brother and sister? They’re not brother and sister, are they? No. They’re kissing right in front of us. No, they’re not.
Paul Rudd: [The kiss] was — you get a little nervous. But also, I was psyched.
Growing up you hear these actors, and granted, they’re talking about sex scenes and not just kisses, but they’re like, “Oh, it’s all technical. Nothing’s there. Nobody’s excited. It’s all just kind of embarrassing.” I remember thinking, “Is that really true?” And then I remember thinking, “This is pretty awesome.”
I sound like a total perv.
Adam Schroeder: Karyn [Rachtman] had found an Oasis song called “Whatever,” which was a big part of the movie — whatever — and it was very Oasis-y and it was a very cool song and sounded great. The deal was that they were the end title song, but the song [would start] before the movie’s over. So it’s not just on the credits, it’s on the end of the movie. That was very important to them … But it wasn’t as happy and fun as you wanted with Josh and Cher, the wedding, and then Josh and Cher kissing. We ended up using “Tenderness,” the [General Public] song.
Oasis wasn’t happy about that, because we wanted to go from “Tenderness” right into the Oasis song on the credits. And it was end credits, so it was actually good. End credits are usually not bad, but they’re a scroll of crew. But this was actually [the names of the] actors and the director and the production heads and it was this kind of shiny thing we had designed. But they weren’t happy with that. So we ended up not being able to use that Oasis song “Whatever,” which was a bummer. Because that seemed so perfect.
Mona May: [The wedding] was all about the ending and the happy ending. Where everybody found themselves: they all had the boyfriends, they all were together, really getting along. I think I wanted to make the wedding just super exciting. And kind of life-affirming.