With the unconventional good looks and quirky persona that shout Leading Character Actress, Alyson Hannigan made a name for herself on the WB series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. As Buffy's confidant Willow Rosenberg, the actress endeared herself to a legion of fans and then won over film audiences everywhere with her scene-stealing turn as geeky flutist Michelle in the 1999 summer smash American Pie. Born March 24, 1974, in Washington, D.C., Hannigan became a TV commercial veteran following her family's move to Atlanta. From the age of four, Hannigan appeared in a steady stream of commercials, including ones for Oreo and McDonald's. At the age of 11, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in film and television. She made her big-screen debut in the 1988 film My Stepmother Is an Alien, as Dan Aykroyd's daughter. The following year, she won a regular spot on the short-lived sitcom Free Spirit and acted in a variety of television miniseries and sitcoms (including Roseanne and Picket Fences) until 1997, when she won the part of Willow on Buffy. The show proved to be an unexpected success among critics and viewers alike, and paved the way for Hannigan to appear opposite Tom Everett Scott in the 1998 comedy Dead Man on Campus. American Pie followed the next year, giving Hannigan wider recognition and making her an unintentional poster child for band camps everywhere. A small stint in the Jason Biggs/Freddie Prinze Jr. flop Boys and Girls (2000) did little to further her career, but thanks to a beefed-up part from writer Adam Herz, Hannigan found herself revisiting the sexually advanced but socially backward Michelle in 2001's high-profile sequel American Pie 2. Though critics were mixed on the franchise's sophomore offering, they praised Hannigan's ability to fully flesh out a character who essentially served as an elaborate punch line in the first film.
Alyson Hannigan has just Met your Mother
Former "Buffy" star Alyson Hannigan - most recently guesting on "Veronica Mars" - has apparently signed for a new TV sitcom.
Hannigan, who recently dropped out of the Jennifer Love Hewitt pilot "In the Game", which didn't get the greenlight anyway, is headlining CBS's "How I Met your Mother", says a post in the AHAS Forum.
Hannigan's father broke the news : "I just spoke with Aly and she had just come from signing for an upcoming Pilot. She was really excited and thinks it will be a lot of fun. Name: How I Met Your Mother. It is a CBS pilot, and will tape live, though some of it will be pretaped due to the nature of the show. I have more details about it, but I am sure there will be more on the entertainment news wires soon", he tells.
He adds, "Here is what I got from her so far: There are 3 lifelong friends that are now old and reflecting back on their life. Alyson will play the fiance or girlfriend of one of these friends, the main one I believe. If I understood her correctly, most of the show will take place in 2005, and the use of the old man telling about his past will be mainly done with some narration, maybe a short scene at the beginning before flashing back...but the show will mostly take place in 2005 when the 3 friends were all much younger. I picture it something like the movie "Little Big Man" with Dustin Hoffman if any of you remember that movie. Dustin was the old man telling about his life, and most of the movie flashed back to his younger years. That's the best I can do to explain it".
Carter Bays and Craig Thomas ("American Dad," "Method & Red") will pen the pilot, with Josh Radnor co-starring.
What this means for future appearances from Hannigan on "Veronica Mars" - they were talking regular at one stage - is yet to be seen.
Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof Interview
Alyson Hannigan was with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer from the very beginning, unless you count the very first unaired pilot. She came on for the official pilot and played Buffy’s best friend Willow for seven years. Willow started out as a research-y bookworm, but became a powerful witch, so powerful she almost destroyed the earth when she went to the dark side. Dealing with addiction, sexuality and loss, Willow was one of the most profound characters on the show.
Luckily, Hannigan is much lighter in person. She’s all smiles and hugs as she was joined by real life romance Alexis Denisof. Denisof played Wesley on Season Three and then went over to become a regular on Angel. Despite changing shows, their romance bloomed as was evidenced by their touchy-feely display on the red carpet.
What will you miss the most about Buffy?
Alyson Hannigan: I’m gonna miss scaring Tony [Head] when he came to his trailer. I got very good at shocking him. I’ve done everything. I’ve hid under his trailer and jumped out. I’d hide on the hitch and jump down. You have to be very particular because shadows could give it away. I snuck into the back of his trailer. I had an AD unlock the back door and I snuck in and creeped in and scared him.
Alexis Denisof: She’s shaved 10 years off his life.
Did you ever scare anyone else like that?
AH: No. I think Tony’s the best because he actually grasps for his heart in slow motion.
Would you like to spin off to Angel?
AH: Angel’s fun and I definitely liked doing the guest appearances, but I don’t want to take away their shine. There may be guest appearances.
What was it like shooting the last day of Buffy?
AH: It was very, very bittersweet. An emotional day for everyone. It was lots of tears, lots of hugs, it was great.
What does Willow do in the finale?
AD: She’ll surprise you.
AH: She does some good stuff.
Alexis, what about your finale on Angel?
AD: Well, they’re trying to set up the new format for the show if it comes back next year, which would be pretty different from what it is now. I hate to give away the season finale by telling you, but it’s safe to say it would be a very different show next year if it gets picked up.
You’d still be in it though?
AD: Oh yeah. I hope, unless you hear differently.
So, you don’t die, then?
AH: Nobody dies on our shows.
AD: Death is insignificant.
AH: Death is just really a plot twist.
Will Wesley be in the Buffy finale?
AD: No. There’s no crossover for me there.
Did you guys enjoy working together on the Angel crossover episode?
AH: Oh, it was the best.
AD: That was really fun.
AH: There was a lot of giggling.
What are your final thoughts about Willow?
AH: Oh, I’m going to miss everything. It’s been the most amazing and significant job of my life obviously and I’ll always have it near and dear to my heart. I’m so grateful and appreciative that I worked with the best crew and the best writers and producers and cast and I love them all.
What would you like the fans to do with an extra hour in their schedule?
AH: The Last Barrier. That’s a good one.
What do you think made the show such a big success?
AH: I think the writing. That’s what’s so amazing.
Did you know it would be this huge?
AH: I had no clue. I just remember the first season, Nic[holas Brendon] and I and Tony would run up to the production offices just to try to watch whatever they had edited together. We were like, “Wow, this is even better than we thought it was going to.” The first episode we saw finally cut together was “The Witch,” which I think is two or three. It was just phenomenal and we were like, “This is so cool. I’m so excited for my friends to see it.” Which is how I gauge projects. If I’m like, “My friends are going to love this.”
What was your favorite episode?
AH: “Hush,” the silent one, because it was so interesting to do.
I had never done anything like that and it was just such an interesting process, having to really know where each moment was because you didn’t have the benefit of words. It was so compelling.
What do you think about Willows growth over the seasons?
AH: I loved Willow just as much then as I do now, so I think her character had the most room to grow because she started out as such a shy wallflower and everything, but yeah. I couldn’t have asked for any more development. I got the most amazing storylines. I won the lottery really.
Did you like playing the darker side?
AH: The dark side was all right. I prefer the lighter side of Willow.
How did you develop the Willow voice?
AH: I sort of got her voice when I was auditioning. I was sitting in the parking lot looking at the material, and I didn’t have it, I didn’t have it. Then there was one particular line which from there on, I was like, “Okay, I know how I want to play this character.”
Do you feel like you have two series ending, with the last American Pie coming out too?
AH: Yeah, definitely, although I never looked at American Pie 1 or 2 as “Oh, I’m sure there’s going to be another one.” Each time I go into it, I say, “Okay, this is the last one.” Movies are so different because it is so short term.
Do we learn anything wilder about Michelle this time?
AH: Oh, man. I don't know. Maybe.
What is it like having a sister for your character?
AH: It’s wonderful. Michelle’s sister is played by January Jones who’s so sweet and wonderful. It was really nice. I love her. She’s awesome and it’s cool. It was nice to have that sister relationship. It was cool.
Hannigan Lands on 'Veronica Mars'
On Tuesday, Feb. 22, Alyson Hannigan, who spent the final two of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer's" seven seasons on UPN, returns to the network in the first of two episodes of UPN's teen-mystery series "Veronica Mars."
Although Hannigan began acting in commercials at age four, she still had a bout of nerves when she arrived on the "Mars" sets in San Diego, Calif.
"I am a huge fan of the show," she says, "and when they asked me to do it, it was a little too hard to say 'no.' But I got so nervous, I couldn't even speak. It was as if I'd never, ever done any work before. It was very strange to me. I had total stage fright.
"I messed up most of my first scene. I thought, 'I just bombed.' It was interesting, but odd."
Hannigan plays Trina Echolls, half-sister of Logan (Jason Dohring), a high-school nemesis of sleuth Veronica (Kristen Bell). Of late, Logan and Veronica have struck up a truce, as she helps him answer questions he has about the supposed suicide of his mother, Lynn Echolls (Lisa Rinna), wife of movie star Aaron Echolls (Harry Hamlin, Rinna's real-life spouse).
"She's a Hollywood brat," says Hannigan of Trina. "She's a poor little rich girl. She's got rich parents, so she's spoiled, but trying to be an actress in her own right, but that's not going well.
"She's a party girl, likes to spend money that isn't hers. It was fun, because it was a complete departure from the other parts I've been playing for the last seven years."
Some consider "Veronica Mars," with its spunky female lead, to be a worthy successor to "Buffy."
"Nice," Hannigan says. "They were talking about being compared to 'Buffy,' which I'm sure is annoying for them, but it's actually a good thing. There's always going to be some sort of comparisons, and at least it's a show that was also critically acclaimed, instead of some sort of bad show. I would hope that 'Buffy' fans would watch it."
At this writing, Hannigan is back in San Diego, shooting her second episode, called "Hot Dog," currently scheduled to air on April 19.
Hannigan has had a couple of comedy pilots, one for NBC and one for ABC, not survive to air, so right now, she's just happy to be on "Mars."
"Hopefully they'll get picked up for a second season, and there'll be more of a big arc for my character. Call me optimistic, but if UPN wants to have good shows on the network, I would think they'd keep the ones they have.
"They need to keep 'Veronica Mars,' because it's such a good show. I don't understand why people aren't watching it."
Alyson Hannigan: American Pie: The Wedding
Alyson Hannigan made her acting debut in "My Stepmother is an Alien" before going on to make a handful of TV movies. She later landed a regular slot on popular TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, fitting it in between two slices of "American Pie". In "American Pie: The Wedding" she says 'I do' to Jason Biggs.
What persuaded you to come back for the third film?
I am thrilled with the development of the character. To be honest, I thought she was a one shot deal. After the first film, they talked about a second film, and I thought Michelle wouldn't be a part of it because she kind of left at the end of the first movie. But then I got this script for the sequel and Michelle was still a very big part of it, and now here we are again.
Do you think "American Pie" fans are going to buy into Jim and Michelle getting married?
I think people are really going to root for them to get married. It's such a sweet relationship, and they're each so traumatisingly odd that I think they just deserve each other. You know, they're just so perfect for each other.
What's your favorite moment from this film?
I got my first scene with Eugene Levy [who plays Jim's dad] and it was just the most thrilling moment of my career. He's just brilliant.
These films are famous for pushing the envelope. Any worries that this one may go too far?
You know, I think our fans expect it, and you do have to raise the bar. The thing with these movies is that there's so much heart to them. There's definitely an element of raunchiness, but you genuinely care about these characters. You root for them. They're genuinely trying to do the right thing. They're just clumsy.
Alyson Hannigan: "American Wedding"
It was the end of a long day for 29-year old Alyson Hannigan, sitting in a Los Angeles hotel promoting the third - and most likely final - installment in the successful American Pie franchise. But this time around, the focus is different, and Hannigan has far more to do than sprout her charmingly laid back "this one time in band camp" lines. Alyson's nymphomaniacal Michelle is getting married to still accident-prone Jim [Jason Biggs] in American Wedding. Convinced the franchise would not only never get this far but even more convinced it would develop without Hannigan, the pretty actress just fell in love with the third script "which is what it all boils down to, "and besides, everybody wants to be in a trilogy don"t they"", adds Hannigan, laughingly. The actress was also attracted to the evolution of hers and Jason's characters. "It's so sweet and I loved the way they ended up together," says the smiling actress. But some things never changed during the three films: As sweet as American Wedding is, don"t be fooled; it's not all sweetness and light. Fans will still get plenty of the franchise's trademark raunchiness, including some wicked moments from Hannigan. "I love the shock factors and that Michelle is just OK with every aspect of herself, especially the sexual side." Hannigan says there are aspects of Michelle she can relate to, and admits that while appearing shy and introverted, Hannigan has a wild side "There's a very wild side to me, but it's calming down," she says, laughingly.
Yet ultimately, Hannigan's Michelle ends up with her perfect wedding, and in real life, Hannigan is about to tie the knot for real, with fianc" Alexis Denisof, whom she co-starred with on Buffy. While not disclosing a specific date for her real-life nuptials, Hannigan says that her dream wedding is not as grand or lavish as its fictional counterpart on screen. "You know I'm going to do very natural settings, like outdoors, just fun. I'm not a traditional wedding girl; we just wanna express how we are in our life and it's going to be very nice." At 32, Alyson says that it's the right time in her life for marriage and that it was never something in the forefront of her mind when she was younger. "It wasn"t an important thing for me until I met Alexis. I would think about things in relationships, and tended to ask myself: Would I ever marry this guy and if the answer was no, then the relationship died pretty quickly. It was just: All right, we"ll ride it for the fun wave and then when it starts to become work, I'll bail." That is, until Alexis came into her life and there was no need to bail "because it was worth it. I love just exploring us together and I know he's the one for me," despite the fact that Hannigan was determined never to date an actor. "I just thought it was a bad idea, and besides, most actors are really annoying, so they were never attractive to me. But I was just instantly attracted to him and we were friends for a year and a half before we dated which I recommend, because you really just get to know the person and then if they"re still there, that's a really good sign."
Hannigan has established herself as one of Hollywood's most interesting performers. A native of Washington D. C, she moved to California at age 10, and somehow knew instinctively that her role in life was to perform. "I never questioned that I liked it," she says emphatically. "I would just sit at home and perform for my invisible audience and was convinced that somebody had to be watching me somewhere." As Hannigan's parents were photographers, it afforded her the chance to become comfortable in front of the camera. After a brief modeling career, she did commercials prior to her movie debut in 1988's My Stepmother is an Alien. But the once unknown Hannigan burst into our consciousness as the initially shy and insecure Willow in 1997's Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a role she won following an intense audition process. Though she thought the series would be short-lived, Hannigan immediately fell in love with it, and Willow, "because it was so good and it was the most amazing thing I had ever worked on at that point, so I was getting to do what I loved to do on a really good project." Hannigan also loved the fact that Willow was allowed to change in some huge ways. "I mean she started as this sort of shy wallflower that couldn"t even speak around boys and then evolved into this lesbian witch that tried to destroy and save the world many times." And Hannigan changed just as much as her character. "I started the show when I was about 22 I think and they were just amazing years. I met friends that I will have for the rest of my life, I met my beloved and I just learned so much about the process and the business." The show's finale here in the US garnered strong acclaim, and Hannigan says it was the right ending for the show's legion of fans. "Last year I couldn"t have sat with you and said oh, I would love for the show to end the way it did, but I am so happy it went out that way and I think it was just a really nice way to end it." And there's no likelihood of a Willow spin-off, Hannigan insists. "God, I got to do so much starring the seven years in Buffy that I can"t see that and I wouldn"t want to ruin that by risking something that might not be as good."
In between wedding plans and promoting American Wedding, Hannigan has little time to think of much else, though says that she is going to give careful thought as to what her next screen role will be. "I'm really concerned about what my next move is, as this is a really critical time. I had an amazing offer for another one hour TV show and I just couldn"t do it because after seven years of doing the one hour schedule, I can"t go back into it right now; I would never see my future husband and so I'm going to explore other things." Her only fear, Hannigan confesses, is becoming what she despises the most: A movie star diva. "I don"t want to start believing what you can believe in this business; I want to stay true to who I am, by trying to be in the moment. As soon as I start believing my shit doesn"t stink, I want to go away. I love this profession, but God, it can just destroy people and I don"t want that to happen and become some monster."
Alyson Hannigan Eats More Pie
On TV's Buffy, Alyson Hannigan is the often introspective Lesbian Willow of the Slayer, but manages to really let her hair down as the deceptively sweet-natured band camp girl in love with geeky Jim in American Pie. In the sequel, Hannigan has a blast as the wacky character, and had no hesitation in joining the cast for this second slice of American pie, as she divulged to Paul Fischer.
There are certain moments in the new American Pie, in which perky co-star Alyson Hannigan, who plays the often sweet clarinet-playing Michelle, has moments of pure nerdy sweetness, counterbalanced by outrageous pieces of profanity. It's this hilarious duality that enticed Hannigan to the world of American Pie. "Hell, yeah, man, how do you think they got me this time?" The actress confesses that this movie "is definitely my sense of humour, and something that, if it wasn't something I wasn't a part of, I'd be first in line to see", she admits laughingly. The actress is not shy to admit that she is "basically a disgusting, gross-out kind of person and I can out-gross the boys." In the sequel, Hannigan's Michelle finally makes to band camp, where she teaches Jim a few tricks about love and sex. "He was a lot more sloppy this time around", Hannigan wryly responds when asked about sleeping with co-star Jason - on camera - in Pie 2.
While American Pie 2 isn't without its fair share of outrageous comedy, this time around, there is a lot more humanity as these characters really do grow up. That growth, particularly evident in the Jim-Michelle relationship, was part of the appeal, Hannigan says, for returning to American Pie. "That was definitely the big draw for me, because I didn't really see a reason for my character to COME back, then when I saw the development of their relationship, it really touched me."
It was a more assured Hannigan, currently working on a sixth season of Buffy, who is promoting Pie 2. She, and the rest of the gang, has grown up a lot since the 1999 American Pie became an unexpected hit. Now those former fresh-faced youngsters have become individual success stories, a fact which has impacted on the group as it gets together to promote Pie 2. "We were just doing a photoshoot for Newsweek, and I remember doing something similar for the first movie, and there were like four people behind the photographer; now it's more like forty, with this HUGE entourage," she says laughingly. "But that also reflects how much more aware we are of what this business is, and people can do with that information what they want. In other words, they can take advantage of it, manipulate it and become complete divas, or you can just keep your head on straight and try to be normal." With her unassuming and natural beauty, couple with an obvious intelligence, Hannigan is determined to fit into the latter category of actor. A fierce campaigner in the fight against breast cancer, Alyson Hannigan has been on the showbiz treadmill since the age of four. Born in 1974 in Washington DC, she worked in commercials as a child and moved to LA when she was eleven in the hope of carving a career in TV and film. Her breakthrough was in 'My Stepmother Is An Alien', playing Dan Aykroyd's misunderstood daughter, Jessie. One of her co-stars, ironically, was a certain Seth Green. Their paths crossed again on the sitcom 'Free Spirit'. Other notable appearances were in 'Picket Fences', 'Touched By An Angel', and as one of Becky's friends in 'Roseanne'. The success of 'Buffy', which debuted in 1997, has raised her profile even higher. After the feature film 'Dead Man on Campus', she cemented that success in 'American Pie', and now its sequel. Though voted one of the most 100 Beautiful Women in FHM Magazine, Hannigan shies away from being overtly sexual- even in the sex comedy romp that is American Pie. "Luckily my career isn't based on my body", she insists smilingly. "I always get to play the big, quirky sidekick, those offbeat characters, so the pressure is a lot less for ME than somebody who'd automatically be typed in that role."
In between her film work, Hannigan returns to Buffy as Willow. In the US, controversy is rife with the show's switch in TV networks from the youth-oriented WB to the more fledgling UPN, but Hannigan is unphased and relishes the challenges that lay ahead. "I'm very happy with the network change. It's given us so much more energy and it really feels as if we're starting a new show, and after 100 episodes that's an amazing gift." At the end of the previous season, Buffy is killed off, but bearing in mind we're talking vampires here, Hannigan reveals that "there's always a way to bring somebody back, and that was planned whether we were changing networks or not." As for Willow's sexuality issues, "she's well and truly discovered who she is now and is now exploring it; she's in a relationship and it's great." Hannigan, who remains under contract for at least the next two years, is more than happy to stay with Buffy as long as they want her, even if she's eighty at the time. "If it stays a quality show, I'm there."