Biography

Alyson Hannigan, a child actress who never paused for a timeout, often mixes her girl-next-door appeal with a sultry attitude to great success. She once told Today’s Matt Lauer that each of her American Pie movies had to raise the bar in terms of sexual content, but said that while there was “definitely an element of dirt and raunchiness, [you] genuinely care” about the characters.

Already an acting veteran dating back when she was 4 years old, Hannigan had her first major role at the age of 14, when she appeared in the film My Stepmother Is An Alien. Other movie and TV parts followed, including a role as one of three children on the short-lived sitcom Free Spirit, about a witch forced to do pro bono work for a regular American family.

She came to worldwide prominence in 1997 with her own witchy role, when she played high school geek Willow Rosenberg on television’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hannigan and the show’s top-notch writing team developed the Willow character from Buffy’s brainy sidekick to a leading role, with Willow learning magic and realizing she was a lesbian. Thanks to such powerful storylines and her own talent, Hannigan was one of the keys to the show’s success. According to Hannigan, Buffy fans were intense, and she once described to Conan O’Brien how some people even tattooed the show’s logo and actors’ faces on their bodies.

2003 was a year of endings and beginnings for Hannigan, as Buffy finished its run. She told Carson Daly that the ending of the show was bittersweet, but that everyone needed to move on. However, Hannigan didn’t leave the Buffyverse completely behind. In October 2003, she married Alexis Denisof, who played Wesley Wyndham-Price on both Buffy and Angel.

When Buffy ended, Hannigan was a TV sitcom “hot property”, according to Lauer, who told her in a 2003 interview that “Every network wants to develop a sitcom around you.” After stints on stage in the London production of When Harry Met Sally and guest-starring roles in Veronica Mars and That 70’s Show, Hannigan returned to weekly television as Lily Aldrin in How I Met Your Mother.

— G. Bounacos

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