|October 4, 1976|
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Born on Oct. 4, 1976 in San Francisco, CA, Silverstone was raised in the affluent suburb of Hillsborough by her father, Monty, a real estate investor, and her mother, Didi, a former flight attendant. As a child, Silverstone developed an early interest in performing after having seen her first plays in London while on summer vacation when she was three years old. She also began studying ballet when just a sprout and won fourth-place at a county fair for a dance routine set to the theme from "Flashdance." After her father found her a modeling agent, Silverstone began appearing in print when she was eight years old and soon made the jump to the small screen with her commercial debut in a Domino's Pizza ad. When she was 13, Silverstone began an intensive acting workshop with Judi O'Neil in San Francisco before briefly attending San Mateo High School and even Beverly Hills High School for a semester, only to drop out in her sophomore year. Following her television debut with an episode of "The Wonder Years" (ABC, 1988-1993), the remarkably self-assured 15-year-old used her more advanced appeal to breakthrough in the feature world playing an unstable teen in love with an older man (Carey Elwes) in "The Crush" (1993).
In order to play the role in "The Crush," which demanded a minor work more hours than legally permitted, Silverstone successfully emancipated herself from her reluctant parents, a move that drew repeated questions over whether or not she had a personal falling out with her mother and father, which she maintained was never the case. Meanwhile, "The Crush" fizzled at the box office, though Silverstone won MTV Movie Awards for Best Villain and Best Breakthrough Performance. She continued her stellar breakout year by starring in three Aerosmith videos - "Cryin'" (1993), "Amazing" (1993) and "Crazy" (1994) - all of which propelled the young sexpot into the limelight and granted her widespread attention as a desirable, wild-at-heart teen. Also in 1993, she delivered a daring performance as a cocaine-addicted lesbian in the Los Angeles stage production of Pauline Lepor's "Carol's Eve." Following a supporting role in the made-for-cable movie "Cool and the Crazy" (Showtime, 1994), she returned to the big screen for Amy Heckerling's "Clueless" (1995), in which she played popular Beverly Hills High School student, Cher Horowitz who knows all about fashion, dating and looking good, but nothing about matters of the heart. A surprise hit that also earned widespread praise from critics for its clever writing, many of whom also hailed her adroit performance, "Clueless" helped skyrocket Silverstone's already rising value and became an instant classic.
With her newfound cache, Silverstone signed a deal worth $7-10 million to produce and star in two movies for Columbia Pictures while also snaring a three-year, non-exclusive, first-look production pact with the studio for her new production company, First Kiss Productions. Not one to rest on her laurels, she bettered her skills by attending a month-long classics boot camp, Shakespeare & Company, in the Massachusetts' Berkshires. After a seductress role in the little-seen erotic thriller "The Babysitter" (1995), Silverstone starred as a bright student who becomes the next target for a serial killer in "True Crime" (1996). Meanwhile, her next two projects seemed to take some of the luster off the newly minted golden girl. First was Joel Schumacher's ridiculously over-the-top "Batman & Robin" (1997), in which she played Bat Girl to George Clooney's nipple-suited Batman and Chris O'Donnell's winey Robin. Arguably the most laughable and poorly received movie in the franchise, it nonetheless did brisk business at the box office. She next starred in "Excess Baggage" (1997), the first film to be released under her production shingle, a caper-romantic comedy combo that starred the actress as the wealthy daughter of a distant millionaire father (Jack Thompson), who stages her own kidnapping to gain his attention, only to find herself in the hands of a real criminal. The movie was a critical and financial failure.
With her career in need of another "Clueless," Silverstone unfortunately took another step back when she chose to star in the pallid "Blast From the Past" (1999) opposite Brendan Fraser. Although on paper the fish-out-of-water romantic comedy appeared to have possibilities, the end result was rather disappointing and failed to garner interest at the box office. Silverstone fared much better in an unlikely role, her first Shakespearean part in "Love's Labour's Lost" (2000), Kenneth Branagh's musical take on the Bard's romantic comedy. While some found his homage to the musical films of the 1930s and 1940s a bit much, most were entranced by Silverstone's performance as the Princess of France. An avowed vegan with strong sociopolitical views on animal rights, Silverstone began spending much of her time promoting animal-friendly causes. She lent her voice to 13-year-old Sharon Spitz, the lead character of the socially conscious and frequently awarded animated TV series, "Braceface" (ABC Family, 2001-03), which the actress also executive produced. Back in features, Silverstone found herself unable to escape her big screen doldrums when her rock satire "Rock My World" (2002) and heist comedy "Scorched" (2003) made little impact. But that same year, she received many positive critical notices for her stint on Broadway as Elaine Robinson in the popular stage production of the classic 1967 film "The Graduate," opposite Jason Biggs and Kathleen Turner.
By this point, Silverstone was primed for a major comeback. But instead of another movie, she tried her hand at the small screen. Teaming with producer Darren Star, she starred in "Miss Match" (NBC, 2003), a lighthearted, romance-minded series in which Silverstone played Kate Fox, a divorce lawyer by day and a professional matchmaker by night. Although not as edgy as Starr's popular "Sex & the City," the show successfully revived interest in the actress and rekindled her "Clueless" image as a cute, ideal gal pal - though now grown-up. Despite the positive vibes surrounding the show, "Miss Match" failed to find an audience and was canceled mid-first season. Silverstone stayed active on the big screen with a turn as a sexy investigative reporter badgering Scooby, Shaggy and the gang in the sequel "Scooby Doo 2: Monster Unleashed" (2004), and had a scene-stealing comedic dance sequence in the "Babershop" spin-off with a female slant, "Beauty Shop" (2005). Her career slowed following the direct-to-DVD thriller "Silence Becomes You" (2005) and the teen spy adventure "Alex Rider: Operation Stormbreaker" (2006). After starring in the small screen movie "Candles on Bay Street" (CBS, 2006), she had a brief cameo appearance as herself in Ben Stiller's hit comedy "Tropic Thunder" (2008). She also made news the previous year when she appeared on "The View" (ABC, 1997- ) after walking on stage and apparently snubbing ultra-conservative Elizabeth Hasselbeck despite hugging the other three hosts. Silverstone later called to apologize to Hasselbeck, though the latter said it was just a matter of nerves and was wrongly perceived by the media.