The Real Reason We Don't Hear About Alicia Silverstone Anymore

In the '90s, actress Alicia Silverstone was the prom queen of a generation. She was the well-meaning rich girl, Cher, in Clueless, and the adored Aerosmith "video girl" on "Cryin." (Yes, MTV actually played videos back then.) With her luxe blonde locks, doe-eyed gaze, and gloriously crooked grin, Silverstone seemed positioned as Hollywood's next big and bankable actress. But after some box office bombs and a "cursed" role in a superhero flick, her opportunities dried up. Why did Silverstone's thermonuclear career cool to frozen tundra levels? While some conspiracy theorists blame bad luck, Silverstone's Tinseltown exit was caused by a quirky combination of events and decisions. Let's look at what really happened.

The Batman curse

In 1997, Silverstone played Batgirl in Batman & Robin. A strong female role in a comic book flick? On paper, that's a bombproof recipe for success, but not in this case. According to Style Blazer, the film was considered a curse that damaged many of its stars' careers, including that of co-star Chris O'Donnell, who suited up as Robin, as well as director Joel Schumacher. The film received scathing reviews and was considered a box office bomb. It was the beginning of the end for Silverstone, who won the Razzie for Worst Supporting Actress for her work as Batgirl. It was a bad break, but it wasn't the main reason her success took a swan dive.

She never really wanted to be a movie star

Alicia Silverstone never had the burning desire to be the big movie star that her roles in Clueless and in those Aerosmith videos set her up to be. At the end of the day, she was more of an indie girl done good and all that peripheral showbiz pressure just wasn't her thing. Silverstone told The Guardian in 2015 that "I was just a theater kid. I never wanted to be in movies or TV. There's no support or schooling on what do you do when you suddenly found yourself famous as a young woman. It was just too much for me." Without the innate drive to hurl herself toward the top of the Hollywood food chain or the gumption required to navigate the industry's brutal games, Silverstone pretty much let the other starlets cruise past her.

She would rather save the world

The actress also told The Guardian that she preferred to use her fame for good rather than for cliché things, like chasing high-profile roles, competing with a new crop of actresses, or going nuts with branding. "I decided I would use this to spotlight for something that is very meaningful to me," Silverstone explained. "I went on a quest to change the world, to make things better—for children, for the earth, for animals. I wasn't paying attention to my career, I was paying attention to something else." That was super noble and admirable of her (and sounds a lot like a Cher speech from Clueless.)

But Silverstone didn't intend to completely forego acting for philanthropy. She had a revelation, saying, "And then one day I went, 'Wait, I want to act, too, what's going on?'" She reconciled that she could do both, but perhaps that realization came a bit too late and at the cost of an A-list career. "There's a lot more to it that obviously is personal and private," she told The Guardian ."But that's where I'm at. I can happily have a husband and a child and a life, and I get to contribute in a really meaningful way to the world and I also get to be an actress. And that's a wonderful thing to be."

She's left of center, even for Hollywood

Silverstone has always been left of center when it comes to her values. She doesn't pander or cater to the mainstream. She was widely ridiculed for a video that showed her feeding pre-chewed food to her son, Bear. According to The Daily News, the actress once told Live! With Kelly and Michael that giving birth was "almost sexy." You don't hear that one everyday. Though Hollywood often embraces oddities, Silverstone's crunchiness may have been too much to digest.

Her animal rights activism—she even wrote a book, called The Kind Diet—remains one of her life's passions. While so many cultural fads come and go and are co-opted by the A-list—everything from tattoos to bikram yoga to the Kabbalah—Silverstone has remained steadfastly committed to her core beliefs. She doesn't sway with the trends, and that makes her a bit of an anomaly in a transient town.

She was never a celebutante

Alicia Silverstone never cultivated a reputation as a celebutante who partied and put hedonistic pursuits ahead of her career endeavors. That kept her name out of the headlines, which can be both a blessing and a curse. It indicated that she was mature and serious, but it also meant she flew under the radar, which isn't helpful when competing with so many peers and up-and-comers for quality roles.

Silverstone resurfaced on the red carpet at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival to promote King Cobra, a murder movie about the gay porn industry. She has a leading role alongside James Franco, Molly Ringwald, and Christian Slater.