'Clueless' star Elisa Donovan almost had a heart attack during filming amid anorexia battle

Tom Beasley
·Contributor
·2-min read
Elisa Donovan as Amber Mariens in 'Clueless'. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)
Elisa Donovan as Amber Mariens in 'Clueless'. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images)

Elisa Donovan rose to fame in the 1990s for her role as the central antagonist in teen comedy Clueless, but she has revealed she was suffering from severe health problems behind the scenes.

The 50-year-old star said she "almost had a heart attack" during filming and was diagnosed with anorexia after visiting a doctor.

Donovan made the revelation on the podcast Celebrity Catch Up: Life After That Thing I Did, telling host Genevieve Hassan that the movie helped her to get healthy. 

Read more: Where are the stars of Clueless today?

"I was suffering greatly from anorexia and I had been in denial about it," she said. "I had maybe three or four days off in one week and I almost had a heart attack. 

"The doctor started talking to me about eating disorders and I said: 'well you're crazy because I thought I was too fat to be anorexic'."

Watch: Clueless director celebrates 25th anniversary

Donovan admitted she was concerned at the time that she would lose her job if she were not able to improve her health.

She said: "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.

"So 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’s not what helps you to recover. It has to come from a more pure place of wanting to be better."

Read more: Clueless cast members meet for reunion

The star added that being a part of Clueless "changed my life in a lot of ways", but perhaps most importantly it encouraged her to get help about her potentially dangerous health problems.

She now speaks openly about her struggle with eating disorders, in the hope of encouraging others to seek help.

Elisa Donovan at Stan Lee's Los Angeles Comic Con 2017. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
Elisa Donovan at Stan Lee's Los Angeles Comic Con 2017. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)

After appearing as the snobby Amber in Clueless, Donovan went on to appear in popular TV shows including Sabrina the Teenage Witch and Beverly Hills 90210.

She also reprised the role of Amber in the Clueless TV series, which ran for three seasons between 1996 and 1999.

Her memoir Wake Me When You Leave is due to be released in the UK in July 2021.

Watch: Alicia Silverstone quizzes Clueless superfan Bebe Rexha