By Serena Kappes with Ruth Andrew Ellenson
Updated March 30, 2005 06:00 AM

Age: 28
Hometown: San Francisco
Current gig: Playing a country-girl hairdresser in the Barbershop spinoff Beauty Shop

She may play a stylist in Beauty Shop, but Alicia Silverstone didn’t exactly impress the on-set pro with her shop talk. “He would just give me a glazed-over look,” she says of the man who coiffed the stars. “He didn’t need (my advice). He knew what he was doing.”

But the Clueless star didn’t mind being ignored: She’s having a good time being back on the big screen, where she found a common bond with costar Queen Latifah. “We both thought the other was hilarious. Every time I see her I want to hug her,” says Silverstone.

The actress – who made her Broadway debut in 2002’s The Graduate – is looking to return to the small screen. Her company First Kiss Productions (run with partner Carolyn Kessler) is coproducing the comedy pilot Queen B for FOX. It’s Silverstone’s first starring vehicle since 2003’s Miss Match, on NBC.

And outside of Hollywood, life has been even better for Silverstone. “Ever since I’ve become a vegetarian, I’ve become a really strong, independent person,” she says. “I cannot tell you how much (being a vegan) changed me. It calmed me down. I lost weight. I feel great. I have more energy.”

Plus, she’s got a great a partner in crime: The actress has been dating fellow vegan Chris Jarecki, the lead singer of the neopunk band S.T.U.N., for the past six years. “I’m very lucky to be in a relationship,” she says.

Her other passion? The environment. The activist trekked along the Amazon in Peru as part of efforts to preserve the rain forest and, like Leonardo DiCaprio, drives an ecofriendly Toyota Prius. And the card-carrying PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) supporter is “always rescuing dogs,” as she puts it. Her current brood, pups Samson, Lacey and Butterfly, share her Los Angeles home.

It’s a smooth turn for Silverstone, who after her 1995 smash Clueless then costarred in two critical failures, 1997’s Batman & Robin (as Batgirl) and the Benicio Del Toro movie Excess Baggage (which she also produced). “I had done something like nine films from age 15 to 18,” she says. “And I think I had to stop and go, like, ‘I want to buy a house. I want to live a little bit.’ ”

Today, the former Aerosmith video vixen is content to live life simply. “Alicia could be Elizabeth Taylor or a farmer,” says pal and Clueless director Amy Heckerling. “She doesn’t care.”