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Clueless Director on the Film at 20, Jane Austen and a Musical Adaptation

4 minute read

Twenty years after Clueless opened in theaters, it still has fans totally buggin’ and keeping it real. We caught up with the modern classic’s director, Amy Heckerling, to talk about the film’s lasting influence and news that it’s getting made into a stage musical.

TIME: What’s this I hear about a potential Clueless musical?

Heckerling: God willing. I’m working on it with the woman that directed Rock of Ages and the producer that produced Jersey Boys, so we’ve got a wonderful team, and some music guys that are helping to adjust the music with some lyrical changes—it’s a jukebox musical.

Do you already have ideas for songs you want to be in it?

Yeah, we’ve started working on the rights. That’s a long path. Some people need convincing, other songs that I love have come through, so that’s great.

Are you allowed to say yet which ones you’re going to use?

I’m a little wary of doing that.

What are your plans for the anniversary?

There [was] a book event at the Strand bookstore, but I’m shooting, so I’m kind of busy, you know. There’s been so many people calling me about it, I just feel like I’ve been talking about it forever.

What’s the buzz when people call?

Over the past years there’ve been a lot of crazy screenings with costume competitions, numerous festivals where they’ve done things about it.

In reading the oral history book about the movie, As If!, I thought the parts about Emma were really interesting—those books were so good at explaining social rules. How did it help you write Clueless?

Well the [rules] are constantly changing just because the manner in which we communicate changes. If you watch a movie like Swingers where they’re deciding how many days a guy is supposed to wait before he calls a woman back, then that all changes when there’s texting, because when you get a text right after you go out with somebody, it’s not really a big deal, it’s not like he was so desperate that he called you right away. It’s just a text. So it all has different meaning. [In Austen’s day], when people were waiting for letters, and sometimes the letters would cross because you wrote one too quickly before you got the one where they were saying things, you’re answering things that the ground has shifted underneath it because of the letter you just got. So it’s wonderful that we’re able to see the way people used to function. We understand the feelings the same way we did, but the stuff we have to deal with it changes.

Would you do another Austen update?

I don’t know. In a way Bridget Jones was Pride and Prejudice. [But] I love her, I think she’s one of the greatest writers that ever lived.

What are you working on now?

Actually, right now I’m shooting something for Amazon called Red Oaks.

How is it working with Amazon?

They’re wonderful, everybody’s so nice, the producers are great and the crew is great. Everybody that’s in it is wonderful. Paul Reiser and Jennifer Grey and Richard Kind. And a lot of young kids that are new, and that’s always fun.

What big projects do you want to do next?

I always have this feeling that when you talk about stuff too much you jinx it.

Read Next: 20 Things You Never Knew About Clueless

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