Batman & Robin will forever be one of my all-time favorite films. For me, it is notable for three reasons. One, it was the first PG-13 rated movie I was ever allowed to watch, a huge deal and an incredible milestone that no doubt shaped adolescence. Two, it introduced me to Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy, whose performance not only made me an ecofeminist, but also introduced me to the concept of controlling men with looks alone, a skill I have not yet mastered but am still very much enamored of. And third, there was a batsuit with nipples. That requires no further explanation.
At the time of its release, Batman & Robin was pretty much universally panned by critics who didn’t seem to appreciate the high-camp quality of the film (whether or not that was its intended effect), and thusly it’s not spoken about nearly as much as it should be. And, as it turns out, the film isn’t remembered as warmly by some of its stars either.
In a recent interview with The Guardian, Alicia Silverstone, who played Batgirl in Batman & Robin, reflected on her time making the movie and let’s just say, she wasn’t a fan:
Her biggest role came next, as Batgirl in Joel Schumacher’s critically reviled misfire Batman & Robin (“That definitely wasn’t my favourite film-making experience,” she confesses)...
While she doesn’t elaborate on what made the making of this film so unpleasant, the interview does go on to discuss the negative attention she received following the release of the film, which sounds like enough to taint anyone’s memory of any experience ever:
... a film that brought her less positive attention than the last, from a Razzie award to a depressing new focus on her weight (at the time tabloids would cruelly refer to her as Fatgirl, with some paparazzi chanting it as they chased her for pics). “They would make fun of my body when I was younger,” she says. “It was hurtful but I knew they were wrong. I wasn’t confused. I knew that it was not right to make fun of someone’s body shape, that doesn’t seem like the right thing to be doing to a human.”
Good for her for knowing that the remarks at the time had nothing to do with her and everything to do with the soulless nature of the paparazzi that taunted her, but Jesus Christ it’s devastating to constantly be reminded just how badly the tabloids have treated, and treat, women, who dare to exist comfortably in their own bodies.
Of course, as all celebrity interviews are seemingly required to do at the present moment, eventually they discussed the current global pandemic, and Silverstone had an... interesting perspective to share:
“I’m an activist so I’m kind of used to suffering in terms of what is going in with the world with the climate and looking at the abuse that’s going on,” she says. “This is very surreal and different but at the same time, I’ve been dealing with this for 25 years.”
I very much appreciate the sentiment, but regardless of one’s potential for empathy, it’s hard to think of the rich and famous “suffering” under any circumstances where they are protected by class, money, and privilege. Activist though she may be, I don’t know if saying she’s been suffering for 25 years is quite hitting the note she thinks it is.
Either way, she wraps the interview by dodging a question about a Clueless reunion, which is all fine and well for me, primarily because I would much prefer a streamed table read of Batman & Robin. If only to hear Thurman recite one of the most iconic lines in cinematic history, “As I told Lady Freeze when I pulled her plug, this is a one-woman show.”