Alyson Hannigan Website

Alyson Hannigan Biography

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Known for bringing a quirky and vibrant personality to many of her characters, Alyson Lee Hannigan first garnered attention for portraying wallflower Willow Rosenberg on the popular WB series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” A former child actor/model, this natural redhead one-upped her TV fame after being cast in the late 1990s teen romp, “American Pie” (1999) as the nice-but-naughty band geek, Michelle.

Born March 24, 1974 in Washington D.C. to Albert Hannigan and Emilie Posner, Hannigan grew up in Atlanta, GA with her real estate agent mother after her parents’ divorced in 1972. The camera loved this auburn-coifed actress from an early age. At only three months old, she was featured in an instructional film, “Active Parenting” (1974). 

Hannigan began to model as a child, posing for nearly a hundred print advertisements before making the transition into commercial acting. At the age of four, Hannigan landed her first commercial, promoting Duncan Hines cookie mix. She was later featured in a number of national TV commercials, including campaigns for McDonald’s and Oreo cookies.

Growing up in Atlanta, Hannigan attended the Northside School of the Performing Arts. With her burgeoning success in commercial acting, the eleven-year-old Hannigan and her mother relocated to Los Angeles so that she could pursue her career more seriously.

Hannigan’s first breakthrough role came in 1988 when she was cast as Dan Aykroyd’s suspicious daughter in the misbegotten comedy, “My Stepmother Is an Alien.” Next, Hannigan landed a regular role on the ABC sitcom, “Free Spirit” (1989-90). 

She went on to land a number of other small television roles while still in school, including spots on “Roseanne” (ABC, 1988-1997), “The Torkelsons” (NBC, 1991-93), “Touched by an Angel” (CBS, 1994-2003) and “Picket Fences” (CBS, 1992-96). After graduating high school at North Hollywood High in 1992, Hannigan took some time off to attend college at California State University, where she majored in psychology.

Returning to work in 1997, Hannigan landed her biggest break yet – she was cast as Willow Rosenberg, Buffy’s (Sarah Michelle Gellar) quirky best friend on the cult Joss Whedon TV series, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (WB, 1997-2001; UPN, 2001-03).

With her newfound recognition, Hannigan started landing roles in a number of films geared towards a teenage audience, including “Dead Man on Campus” (1998), in “Boys and Girls” (2000), her biggest film to date – the unexpected teen sex comedy hit, “American Pie” (1999). Playing off her natural geekiness, Hannigan portrayed the sweetly perverted flute-playing band geek Michelle Flaherty opposite Jason Biggs. 

Hannigan uttered the film franchise’s most infamous line: “One time, at band camp…” culminating in a hilariously x-rated explanation of what really did happen at band camp with that flute. The actress reprised her “Pie” role in the sequels “American Pie 2″ (2001) and later, more prominently in the disappointing “American Wedding” (2003).

Crossing over to the “Buffy” spin-off, “Angel” (WB, 1999-2004), Hannigan reprised her role as Willow Rosenberg, appearing on the series in a number of episodes. In 2004, Hannigan made her stage debut opposite Luke Perry, starring in a stage adaptation of “When Harry Met Sally” at the Theatre Royal Haymarket in London’s West End.

Returning to series television in 2005, Hannigan guest-starred on “Veronica Mars” (UPN, 2004- ) and landed a regular spot on the CBS sitcom hit “How I Met Your Mother” (2005- ) portraying kindergarten teacher Lily Aldrin. With such a workload, Hannigan found time to return to the big screen in the 2006 send-up of cheesy romantic chick flicks, “Date Movie,” a modest hit.

In February 2006, Hannigan starred as Julia Jones in Date Movie, a parody of romantic comedies. Alyson also was a guest star on the ABC animated sitcom The Goode Family in 2009. Hannigan joined forces with Emily Deschanel, Jaime King, Minka Kelly, and Katharine McPhee in a video slumber party featured on FunnyorDie.com to promote regular breast cancer screenings for the organization Stand Up 2 Cancer.

Hannigan has dated Ginger Fish of Marilyn Manson. She married actor Alexis Denisof (who played Wesley Wyndam-Pryce in the Buffy/Angel franchise) at Two Bunch Palms Resort in Desert Hot Springs, California on October 11, 2003. They bought a house together in Santa Monica, California. Their daughter, Satyana Marie Denisof, was born six years later at home on Hannigan’s 35th birthday, on March 24, 2009.

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