The iconic Cruel Intentions from the 90s will always be remembered for Sarah Michelle Gellar’s performance in it. In the teen drama, she played the rosary-carrying, cocaine-snorting Kathryn Merteuil. A television drama was made as a reboot, but it failed to generate the same excitement as the movie and was cancelled shortly after it debuted on NBC. However, Gellar claims that because it began airing on a network that caters to families, the show was never going to be a success. “[It was] not a good fit [for NBC],” she explained to the New York Times, “I don’t know. That was a whole crazy time. Nothing against NBC, but Cruel Intentions is straight streaming. On the first day, I was like, ‘This isn’t working.’ It’s just not a network show. And if it is a network show, it’s not my Cruel Intentions. So, I was actually grateful.”
The actress claims she wouldn’t change anything about playing the villain despite the complexity of her character, which viewers love to hate. “No. I think that not everything in life gets wrapped up with a happy bow. There was never going to be a happy ending because I don’t think she would allow herself to have it,” she said, adding: “The youth of today look at it differently. They feel like they deserve the happy ending, and thus, they will go out and get it. I think that’s a really positive thing.”
The 1999 movie, which followed the life of two convincing stepsiblings who rule their Manhattan prep school as queen and king, bet that they could deflower the new headmaster’s daughter before the start of term. However, their bet put them in danger when one of the siblings begins to fall for the victim of their scheme. The movie also starred Ryan Philippe and Reese Witherspoon in addition to Gellar.
Despite the mixed reviews from critics, Gellar’s performance received high appreciation. According to a Washington Post review: As for Gellar, hello, hello, hello. Two weeks ago in a flaccid remake of “Like Water for Chocolate” called “I, the Insipid” – no, no, called (a slight pause while Hunter looks it up) “Simply Irresistible,” that Buffy gal hardly registered. She was so nicey-nice she made you want to throwy-up,” t The review makes note of Gellar’s girl-next-door character from the recently released film.
But she was quite the opposite in Cruel Intentions. The review goes on to say: “Here, she’s a piece of delicious chocolate evil, a sinister heart lurking under the cheerful all-American guise as the Most Popular Student Body President Ever! The crucifix she wears close to her heart contains 100 percent pure Colombian white girl. But hers also is Laclos’ conceit (and Close’s and Annette Bening’s in “Valmont”), which makes her not merely dangerous but also interesting: In a world ruled by stupid men, a smart woman plays the game of sex because it’s the only table they’ll let her sit at, and they have no right to be surprised, therefore, when she wins.”