Alicia Silverstone is one of those actresses so inextricably linked with a role that it’s hard to imagine her as anyone other than Cher from Clueless. And yet — and yet! — Silverstone’s garnering great reviews for her performance in the Manhattan Theatre Club’s production of Time Stands Still, written by Donald Margulies and directed by Daniel Sullivan; Silverstone plays the event-planner girlfriend of a much older magazine journalist, played by Eric Bogosian. We met Silverstone, now 33, at Pure Food & Wine near Union Square; in addition to acting, she’s a big-time vegan and recently wrote a vegan cookbook. Over Master Cleanse-Tinis we spoke to her about being on Broadway and her Clueless legacy.
You were on Broadway eight years ago, with Kathleen Turner, in The Graduate. How is it being back in New York?
I spent the first week of rehearsals, every morning and every night, looking for an apartment. You know how people say New York is hard? It’s hard! My experience in the past was different. I had a driver. I was younger. It just felt easier. The whole thing has been super fun and super stimulating, but I feel like every day takes a ton of effort. It’s like, you think landlords would care about what goes on in their buildings. Oh, there’s a gas leak? They don’t care. It’s been hilarious and interesting. Not all hilarious though. When I had my period, I thought I was going to die.
At the beginning of Time Stands Still, your character, Mandy, has a bit of Cher in her—she’s bubbly and seems a little superficial.
You can compare the characters in that Cher was really well intentioned, but not really clued in to a lot of what was going on in the world. But that would be a simplification of Mandy. Cher was a teenage girl and Mandy is a professional person who runs entire events. She meets her lover at a launch party for a book on Darfur. Just like everybody, she’s had pain, but she’s not going to war. For comedy’s sake- — the play is a comedy — there’s the contrast between her and the other characters, who are more intellectual.
Do you get tired of people associating you with Clueless?
It’s actually really pleasant. This is really weird: I was getting waxed, and the woman doing it was in her 30s. She said Clueless was her favorite movie of all time, and she had just introduced it to her ten-year-old daughter, who now loves it. It’s kind of sweet that there’s this generation now sharing it with their kids — like how my mom and I were watching Thorn Birds together.
Is your husband here with you?
My husband is coming on Sunday. I miss him a lot. When I was younger, I could go a lot longer without him. He’s a musician—he’s doing an album with his band. But to make a living, he also does commercials, coaches little kids in basketball, and he does a radio show.
Did you grow up vegetarian?
No I was a total meat-eater, are you kidding me? I was 21, and when the word health came up, it meant, ‘Oh, you’re telling me to lose weight.’ I had quite a bit of pressure about my weight and stuff. So I said, ‘Fuck you. I’m going to eat whatever I want. I don’t care.’ I just totally rebelled—I was anti-health. My love for animals is what saved me. And once I started eating vegetarian—after two weeks of not eating animals — my skin changed drastically, my eyes got really light. I had brittle nails with those white calcium marks. Those all went away. I started to get really slim. My body just went, ‘Whoo!’
Do you approach your job any differently now that you’re in your 30’s?
I’ve worked for so long, since I was a little girl. My homework in my life right now is to try to really rest. And not rest, like, I’m done, but rest, like, find the balance in your life so that each day is more beautiful and not a race to get to some place. There was a lot of unhealthy stuff in my life, a lot of unhealthy people. My attention since Clueless has been on family, relationships, activism, the planet, and my career. But then I started doing a lot of theater. And that’s what I love. It’s just this amazing magical thing that’s just so stimulating and so real.