As the story goes, Freddie Prinze, Jr. had developed quite a crush on Claire Forlani, his "Boys and Girls" costar; in some versions of the story, they have been engaged in a torrid affair since they worked on the film months ago. Whatever the case may be, the wags were already picking Freddie and Claire as the "next big celebrity couple."
Which didn't sit too well with Sarah Michelle Gellar, since she and Freddie were the current "big celebrity couple." They had been dating for months, and friends had recognized the telltale signs of love between the two of them.
Her own intuition told her that there was nothing between Freddie and Claire. He hadn't seemed overly-awed by her when they were making the picture, and he hadn't really mentioned her since. And there was certainly no lack of passion in their own relationship. No, this was just a rumor. But who was working so hard to spread it? Sarah had her suspicions.
And those suspicions seemed confirmed when, at a party, Jessica Alba told Sarah that she had heard Claire herself bragging that she had "stolen" Freddie, and that Sarah was too stupid to realize it.
Why was Claire doing this? Did the Brit have a crush herself on Freddie, and she was trying to win him over? Was she just trying to generate free publicity and promote her career? Or was she simply the kind of person who liked to stir up trouble? Maybe a combination of all three...that wouldn't be unusual in Hollywood.
Sarah was fuming, but she didn't act on her anger. Why give Claire the satisfaction of seeing the blonde have a temper tantrum? The time would come when she could clear this up with Forlani.
That opportunity came less than a week later. Sarah was sunning herself on the beach at Malibu (with sunglasses and a floppy hat hiding her identity nicely) when she overheard someone say that Claire was renting a beachhouse just up the way. Taking a stroll, Sarah found herself at the door of the house and rang the bell.
The British brunette herself opened the door. Without a trace of recognition (although Sarah had removed her glasses and hat, and she was undeniably one of the most recognizable women in town) she said, "Yes, what do you want? There's no public lavatory here."
Was this an insult? Sarah wasn't sure, but it got her dander up nonetheless.
With an edge in her voice, she replied, "I'm Sarah Michelle Gellar...Freddie's girlfriend."
Why did she suddenly blurt that out? She was so much more than just some hunky guy's girl...she was an accomplished actress, a highly intelligent young woman. And yet, she felt the need to identify herself merely as the mate of another. Sarah grew angry at herself for that, and her anger colored her thinking even more.
"Ah, yes," Claire responded. "Freddie mentioned that you've been calling him, harassing him actually."
"More than calling...much more," Sarah practically hissed out.
"Well, whatever you say. Why have you come? He isn't here any longer."
Claire couldn't resist a sly smile with that one.
Sarah's face blushed red and her eyes narrowed into dark slits.
"He hasn't been here at all today! He's doing a round of press interviews all day for your movie."
"Oh, is that what he said? Of course then, that's what he's been doing all afternoon."
Claire delivered her line with an air of boredom that further infuriated the blonde.
Taking a step so that she and the Brit were very nearly nose to nose, Sarah spat, "I don't know what you're trying to pull, but it stops...NOW!"
With a sigh, Claire says, "Yes, I suppose it does. Freddie is a dear boy, but he's really rather immature. That's alright if you're a teenager, but it's not enough for an adult."
Sarah had heard enough! Without bothering to respond verbally, she shoved Claire backwards. The brunette stumbled a few steps, but quickly gained her composure. "How typically American...you come barging into my home and attack me! Well, that was your first and last mistake, little girl!" The smile on the brunette's face revealed that she was savoring this. Was this, then, her goal all along...to goad Sarah into a fight? If so, she now had one on her hands.
The blonde assumed a combat stance (for she wasn't just a 'TV fighter', but a longtime student of Tae Kwan Do), and as Claire moved closer, Sarah unleashed a roundhouse kick aimed at the brunette's head.
But Claire's reflexes were just as sharp, and she turned her head quickly enough so that the ball of the blonde's foot barely grazed her jaw, causing no harm. And in the wake of the kick, Sarah was off-balance.
The brunette took advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate that she, too, knew a think or two about the martial arts (or, at least, that she had some ballet training). Her kick caught the blonde hard in the belly, doubling her over; a second kick slammed hard into Sarah's chest, causing her to reel backwards until she hit the wall.
Claire threw a punch at the blonde's face, but Sarah had the presence of mind to duck; the brunette's fist smashed through the plaster wall behind her. Claire let out a howl of pain, but a quick check of her hand convinced her that, despite the pain, nothing was broken.
But this gave Sarah the few moments she needed to gather her wits and go on the attack again. When Claire finally turned to face her again, she was met with a brutal palm blow to the chin. Claire spun about and crashed into the wall, but did not fall. That suited Sarah fine, as she wanted to move the fight towards the center of the room anyway.
Grabbing Claire by her chestnut mane, she spun her around, sending her flying to the floor. Claire got up to her hands and knees, but Sarah was directly behind her, and a kick to the brunette's behind sent the Brit sailing face-first to the carpeting.
But Claire was hardly done for. Before Sarah could press her advantage, the brunette lashed out her leg, sweeping the blonde's feet from under her. Even as Sarah fell, Claire scrambled, so that she was atop the stunned blonde before Sarah knew what was happening.
Yelping with pain, Sarah was helpless as Claire sat astride her, holding her head in place with a hairpull while using her free hand to slap the blonde's face again and again.
Claire might have won the fight then and there, if she had only kept up her attack. But she got cocky, and she wanted to toy with the blonde a bit longer. She stood up, and started to pull Sarah up to her feet with a hairpull.
But as Sarah stood, she unleashed a punch square into the brunette's belly. The air rushed out of Claire's body, visibly deflating her. Sarah quickly followed through with a backhand blow to the cheek.
Then, holding Claire close to the roots and doubling her over, Sarah began to raise her knee, slamming it again and again into the Brit's face. The blonde only stopped when Claire's knees buckled.
Letting the brunette fall to the floor, Sarah surveyed her work. Claire was too dazed to rise, with blood trickling from her nostrils and from her split lower lip. Her eyes could barely focus.
Breathing hard, struggling to draw breath into her own exhausted body, Sarah said, "If you EVER tell another lie about Freddie or me, I'm going to KILL you! Am I clear?"
Claire nodded her head, and Sarah walked out of the house and back to the beach. Freddie would be done soon with his interviews, and he could provide the kind of 'First Aid' she wanted more than anything right now.