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SILVERSTONE, ALICIA: Blast from the Past

At just 22 Alicia Silverstone is already a veteran of film and TV. Mature, intelligent and outspoken, Silverstone is a passionate animal rights campaigner, a vegetarian and choosy about what she does. She talks to PAUL FISCHER about her thoughts on love, her latest film and why she hated doing Batman and Robin.

Alicia Silverstone walks into a room with the confidence and maturity of someone far older than her 22 years. Her blonde hair is darker than usual, she is wearing a simple black top and dark green trousers, and she carries a red liquid concoction, which she describes as a "smoothie of some kind to see me through the day." While many scoffed at the notion of the young actress turning producer for Excess Baggage, it's clear that the savvy Silverstone learnt a lot from her post-Clueless experience.

"the greatest experience of my life" on Clueless

"I think that was the greatest experience of my life, working on that movie. I worked on it for two years, I cared about it soooo much - I think what it did do is maybe gave me a lot of confidence, because I learnt that I can do whatever I want if I put my heart and soul into it. I was so happy with the way the movie did, so it was wonderful."

While good roles for young women are hard to come by, for Silverstone it hasn't been that difficult. "I think I've been pretty lucky, and for me, it's quality not quantity, so I don't really care if I don't work for a few years, I'll be fine, because I don't want to do a movie just to do a movie, that's kinda boring. Being on set is not the greatest thing in the world; what's more fun for me is creating characters. It's that creative part which I like."

Her latest character, and one she clearly relished playing, was the street-wise Eve in the new comedy, Blast from the Past. The film tells of Adam, a young man, (Brendan Fraser) who has lived his whole life in a bomb shelter. He's the son of a couple who have been living down there since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Now, 35 years later, with supplies running low, he's sent out into the world to do two things: find supplies, and find a wife. He meets Eve (Silverstone), and with this very modern, tough and cynical young lady as his guide, this man raised within the boundaries of another time tries to make his way in the 21st century.

"she's so tormented by herself, which was the fun of this character" on Blast from the Past

In describing her latest character, Silverstone comments that "she's so tormented by herself, which was the fun of this character. She's always fighting with herself and is so angry. She starts out as being so fiercely independent - she has nobody really helping her and has a lot of issues. The one thing she's taught herself is that the last thing she wants to do is fall in love, because if you do that, you're going to get screwed. She doesn't want to get screwed so she's not going to fall in love. Then she meets this guy, and through the whole film, every nice thing he says to her makes her more and more angry, because suddenly she starts to feel things and she doesn't want that. She had everything under control until he showed up. That keeps on happening more and more until she explodes."

Eve is a tough and cynical character, qualities that the actress doesn't necessarily relate to. "I'm not living in the same circumstances as she is, so I don't know how to compare myself to her. However, I do think that most women have this problem: either we think it's impossible to meet that great guy, because (we think) they're not out there. Or we think that we don't want the great guy, because you'd rather just be really shallow and take advantage of nasty things, and not have a very nice life. So the idea, at the end of the day and the reason I love this movie so much, is that you can have the most beautiful, romantic and loving relationship for the rest of your life, if you want to."

To achieve that end, Silverstone adds, "you have to be a really good person, as well as be kind, generous and honest. Once you're all those things, then all you have to do is demand, in your mind, that you should be treated like a princess. If someone says 'I love you', that means they really want you to grow and develop into the greatest person - they encourage your life and happiness. You're not there to feed them - that's not what love is. So I think one just has to stand up and know that, after a few dates, if the guy is not really making you feel lovely and you feel yourself just chasing them, then you shouldn't be there. That's not fun."

"we're not allowed to think, or come up with any ideas of our own." on Batman

As passionate as she is, Silverstone's career hasn't always gone the way she'd planned. Take Batman and Robin, in which she played Batgirl. For the first time, she admits that it wasn't the experience she'd hoped for. "I thought that film would be creative, and I thought I'd end up being able to do some crazy stuff, but that director (Joel Schumacher) did not want anything intelligent involved in that project - in other words, we're not allowed to think, or come up with any ideas of our own." Suffice it to say that Silverstone will not be in the next Batman.

The actress's other, main passion remains animal rights. "I never want to use an animal ever again, for any sort of benefit of mine. I don't need it to survive, to clothe myself, so why am I going to torture myself and feel guilt." Silverstone is also a complete vegetarian - as are her three dogs. "I only give them vegetarian, I cook for them on the weekends and during the week they get their regular vegie mix, and they love it."

Next up for this busy actress, is a musical screen version of Shakespeare's Love's Labour Lost, being directed by Kenneth Branagh. It's a project that will require her to sing. "I'm nervous as all hell, let me tell you."

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