Alicia Silverstone loves how Netflix's The Baby-Sitters Club is like 'really good medicine'
Art is imitating life for Alicia Silverstone.
The Clueless icon stars in Netflix's reboot of the beloved franchise The Baby-Sitters Club based on author Ann M. Martin's best-selling books, and she's playing a role that hits close to home. Silverstone stars as Elizabeth Thomas-Brewer, the mother of BSC president and founder Kristy (Sophie Grace). The life of a single mom balancing work, her kids, the family dog, and anything else thrown at her is something the actor knows well — while speaking with EW about the new series, she laughs about how she's currently "managing three kids a dog" who are all trying to get into her garden.
And in between wrangling her new puppy and keeping an eye on her kids, Silverstone gushes over how much kids and adults are "going to love" this new reboot.
"I had never read the books or anything so I wasn't super familiar but what was really cool was hearing from [showrunner] Lucia [Aniello] and Rachel [Shukert] how excited they were because they had loved these books so much," Silverstone tells EW. "And they were telling me about the relationship between my character and Kristy, and how their relationship is going to be really tricky. They're sort of at odds because she's that age for one thing, but also because she had taught her daughter to be very much a feminist, to be independent and strong, and her daughter challenges her and suggests that she is not living those things that she taught her. And so there's a lot of tension and fighting and complication and love, and I thought that was really nice."
Below, Silverstone explains what fans can expect from the new series, why she connected with this role, and more ... while simultaneously keeping watch over her puppy and kids.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was your reaction when you found out that you were going to be a part of a new generation’s version of The Baby-Sitters Club?
ALICIA SILVERSTONE: Mainly I was just really excited to read a script that was female-driven and that was super positive and modern, and based on a story that so many people love. The show makes my heart so happy when I watch it. And it's nice to watch it as a family because it's such feel-good content for our precious little ones. I think that's important. I don't have to worry if my son wants to watch this — and he loves the show, by the way. He loves it so much that he can't wait to see more and I think that's adorable that a nine-year-old boy is interested in watching a group of girls. [Laughs] And that's cool, right? That it holds their attention and that it's so wholesome and yet so exciting at the same time? It's really good medicine in the way that you know you can let your kids watch it, you can feel good about them watching but not to have to worry that they're getting icky messages or sassy talk or the voices are annoying or are violent, all the things.
It's great to see how the show gives you more to do than just be a mom in the background — Elizabeth feels like an actual, three-dimensional character. What are we going to see from you this season?
The first episode, the real impetus for the whole Baby-Sitters Club is because my character can't find a babysitter to save her life. She's freaking out and trying all these things, and ultimately that gives her kid this idea of how to solve this problem. And then in future episodes, there’s a lot of fighting going on because – [stops to check on her kids] Sorry, [laughs] I’m sure all your interviews are like this!
Honestly, this feels very perfect for this show and your character.
[Laughs] I’m multi-tasking, can’t deal with anything! But yes, in future episodes there’s a lot of fighting between me and my daughter about my boyfriend, we want to get married, all that stuff. And then there’s a big scene that comes later that has a lot of conflict.
What has been the most challenging part of playing this role?
Since I’m not always in it, I’m not in every scene, the coming and going and logistics of that was challenging. It would be different if I was just driving to Warner Brothers two days of the week but it’s flying to Canada, back-and-forth. Scheduling that and figuring that out was tough, but I got to bring my son with me to work a lot which was cool. And sometimes acting in a scene where you’re just background or have one line is harder than a whole dramatic scene – hey Dixon, get out of there! [Laughs] Sorry, I had to grab my dog. This is not how I would normally do an interview but it’s just what happened today. But oh my god if you could see this dog, he’s so cute!
Please tell me more about this puppy!
We just rescued him and he had pneumonia and was going to die, and he’s now with us and he’s fine. He’s just so cute but a troublemaker! [Laughs] He’s trying to get into my veggie garden. Dixon, out now!
This feels like the perfect time to ask you what has it been like portraying a mother role that actually shows the daily struggles that working moms like yourself face?
It’s such a different existence when you have kids and you're working and if you're alone too as a single mom, which my character is and I am too. It’s a lot. That's why she's freaking out in the beginning, she’s working all the time, she has no time to make dinner, she’s bringing pizza, she’s just trying to figure it all out, and she’s spazzing. She’s just losing it, and that’s real. You just have to find moments for yourself, to gather yourself, and there’s a lot of that on the show. And it’s nice because she’s also getting married, she’s found a partner, so there’s a lot of joy there for her too. Every part that comes along I look at it and go, what can I do with this, can I have fun with this? Is it going to be interesting? In American Woman I played a mother but I also had this really wild existence. She was a complicated character and I loved that. In Killing of a Sacred Deer I’m a mother as well, but a different kind – she’s a grown child and all desperate and weird, what a juicy part that was. And in The Lodge, I played a really disturbed mother. And then even in Valley Girl, I played a mother, but they’re all just so different and colorful. And I don’t think of them as mother roles, I think of them as women who happen to be mothers who are dealing with whatever struggles they’re dealing with. Long ago we used to think of the mom roles where she just comes in and she’s in the background, like you said, maybe she’s making orange juice or pancakes and that’s all she’s doing, just making food or doing laundry. Not that that’s not hard, believe me. But it was nice playing the mom in this, knowing I was going to have all these great, complicated, dramatic scenes with her daughter, and working with Mark [Fuerstein] who plays my fiancé, knowing she has this story where she’s getting married and has a full life.
You're no stranger to starring in an iconic, nostalgic project as a younger star, so what did you learn throughout your experience of making Clueless that you wanted to pass down to the young stars of Baby-Sitters Club?
I did talk to them about bringing their water bottles to set and not using plastic bottles. I was on their case about that, [laughs] that was really bothering me. And I talked to them about their diet a little bit because some of them were struggling with some stuff and I was like, "All of this will go away, and if I knew this when I was your age I would take this information and I would run with it." I did have to tell them when you're doing an important scene that we have to be quiet, because sometimes there was a real distraction when people were doing serious scenes and trying to get their work done. It's a job, you've got to get your work done, so sometimes I would have to say, "Guys, you've got to keep focused and stay quiet." Just being a professional person with experience, at the end Sophie was so sweet, she told me that she had learned so much and I was like, "Really? What?" [Laughs] She articulated what she had learned and it was really lovely. I saw her grow so much as an actress, the last big scene we had together, she was so wonderful and it was so beautiful. She had really grown and changed and I was really proud of her, and it was really sweet and nice to watch that.
There's a great Clueless reference in the first episode, so what did you think of all the easter eggs and references to not just Clueless but life in the ‘90s?
I don't know, those things can sometimes make me a little shy, for sure. [Laughs] And I just go like, "Oh gosh." But it also was totally fine and it works really well. It's cute. And now I have to go back to being a mom!
The Baby-Sitters Club debuts July 3 on Netflix.