The role of angsty, awkward 15-year-old sophomore Angela Chase, the lead character and narrator on the high school drama My So-Called Life, came down to two unknown actors. The show's developers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz were hoping to make a "more accurate representation of the teenage experience."
After Alicia Silverstone auditioned for the part, Zwick immediately wanted to cast the beautiful blond actor, but Herskovitz didn't think Silverstone would be a good fit because she was simply too attractive. The plan was to make My So-Called Life a heavy-hitting, gritty teen drama, as opposed to a shiny, glamorous series like Beverly Hills 90210.
“Alicia is so beautiful that that would have affected her experience of the world. People would have been telling her she was beautiful since she was six years old. You can’t put that face in what’s been written for this girl,” said Herskovitz.
Casting director Linda Lowy brought in Claire Danes for an audition, and she immediately knew the actor would be perfect to play Angela. "From the minute she walked in the room, Claire was chilling, astounding, and silent,” Lowy said. “There was so much power coming out of her without her doing much.”
Both Herskovitz and Zwick agreed with Lowy. “She seemed to have been born fully grown, you know, out of a seashell,” Herskovitz said.
“What she knows cannot be taught," added Zwick
My So-Called My Life is widely regarded as one of the best TV series to only last one season.