Elisa Donovan Recalls Nearly Suffering a Heart Attack While Battling Anorexia on Clueless Set

Elisa Donovan looks back at her days on Clueless and reveals how her role on the 1995 movie encouraged her to seek help for anorexia after being "in denial."

By Cydney Contreras Apr 16, 2021 9:26 PMTags
Watch: "Clueless" Turns 25: E! News Rewind

Elisa Donovan is opening up about the health struggles she endured, and how her role on Clueless encouraged her to seek help.

On the latest episode of the Celebrity Catch Up: Life After That Thing I Did podcast, the actress recalls being 24 years old and landing one of her first big roles in the 1995 film Clueless. In the popular movie, she portrayed popular girl Amber Mariens.

But as her career was on the rise, her health was in a sharp decline. She shares, "I was suffering greatly from anorexia and I had been in denial about it."

Elisa recalls how there was one week when she had taken three days off from working on Clueless and she "almost had a heart attack," before deciding to visit a doctor. "The doctor started talking to me about eating disorders and all these things and I said, ‘Well you're crazy,' because I thought I was too fat to be anorexic."

30 Secrets About Clueless We're Totally Bugging Over

"At that moment, I was so afraid I was going to lose my job," Elisa explains. "My life had started taking off in the way I wanted it to with my career and I was concerned that this was now suddenly going to prevent me from that."

Alberto E. Rodriguez/FilmMagic

She continued, "Initially, the only reason I started to really get help was because I was worried I'd not be able to continue, but ultimately, that isn't what helps you to recover. It has to come from a more pure place of wanting to be better."

Further in her recovery, Elisa says she realized she wanted to live a "full life," something she now helps others to achieve.

Of course, the now-50-year-old actress completed filming on the Alicia Silverstone flick, and even starred in the spinoff TV series. She says of the experience, "It changed my life in a lot of ways, that movie, but it helped me to get healthy."

It was during her time on the Clueless set that she met some of her good friends, including the late Brittany Murphy, who she describes as a "little hummingbird."

"She was so vibrant, she just was really, really funny," Elisa remembers. "Sadly, it was just the beginning of her career. She could've had a big, broad career."

Elisa details her personal story in her memoir Wake Me When You Leave, which is out June 8.