When it comes down to it, Hollywood is a land of make-believe. Yet when Riley Weston lied about being a teenager to land a job on the 1990s TV hit Felicity, it was a ruse unlike any ever pulled off in Tinseltown. On one hand, you've got to give Weston props: there was a certain ingeniousness and undeniable gutsiness to the move. On the other hand, there are obvious moral and ethical issues with not just telling such a massive lie, but carrying it on for as long as she did.
Stretching the truth has long been a part of show biz artifice. From Joan Crawford to Rebel Wilson, lying about one's true age has always been en vogue to some extent. And then there are the countless actors who fibbed to land roles, like Eddie Redmayne claiming to know how to ride a horse in order to get cast in Elizabeth I, or Chloë Grace Moretz convincing Martin Scorsese she was English, even though she was born in Georgia.
Riley Weston clearly isn't the only professional fibber in Hollywood. But how did she pull it off?
She Landed A Contract With Touchstone Television
Touchstone Television, one of the TV production arms of Disney, offered Weston a lucrative contract. She had worked on Felicity for several months; this was around the time of her "19th" birthday. The contract outlined a three-year deal to write teen-centric shows, to the tune of anywhere from $300,000 to $500,000 (sources differ on the exact number). The high dollar amount generated a lot of buzz, bringing even more attention to the supposedly teenaged writer.
- Photo: Felicity/The WB
The 'Felicity' Cast And Crew Threw Her A 19th Birthday Party On Set
Weston celebrated her supposed 19th birthday while working on Felicity, and the cast and crew threw her a party on set. "We had this big birthday – it's so insane," a Felicity exec said after the deceit was revealed.
Weston herself was not proud of the lie. When asked about the birthday party, she said, "I didn't feel good about it."
She Fabricated A Crush On Jonathan Taylor Thomas
It wasn't just that Weston dressed like an 18-year-old and looked remarkably young for her age. She also fully embodied the role of a '90s teen whenever she was around her Felicity colleagues. She had a poster of the movie Titanic in her office, talked about her former babysitting jobs, and told coworkers she had a thing for Jonathan Taylor Thomas.
Her Mother Was In On The Lie
It took a village to keep Weston's deception afloat. Her mother was also in on the lie, and Weston brought her along to Felicity writers' meetings. She told her colleagues that her mom was her best friend, something that seemed totally reasonable for a teenager to attest.