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Alyson Hannigan was born in Washington D.C. to a Jewish mother and an Irish father. After her parents split up, Hannigan moved to Atlanta with her mother and began acting in commercials when she was only 4 years old. At 11 years old, Hannigan and her mother moved to Los Angeles so Hannigan could pursue film and television credits. She worked steadily throughout her childhood and teen years but took time off to attend college at the University of California, Northridge, where she earned a degree in psychology.
Unlike many child actors, Hannigan never went through a wild or rebellious phase. She didn’t go down a dark path of self-destruction or addiction, nor did she struggle to make the transition from child actor to adult actor. When asked about what helped her to keep her priorities straight, Hannigan responded, “I have always known that I wanted to be an actress,” telling Collider, “I never want to jeopardize being able to do that […] so that kind of, like, kept me from going anywhere, like dark,” while also acknowledging she has always been a rule follower who doesn’t want to get into trouble.
Although Hannigan was a child actress who cut her teeth in commercials, film, and television series, her breakthrough role as Willow Rosenberg in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” made her a household name in the late ’90s and early 2000s. Join us as we explore Alyson Hannigan’s transformation from a teenage witch on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to today.
After Buffy ended, Alyson Hannigan continued starring in the American Pie franchise
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Although Alyson Hannigan’s first appearance in the “American Pie” franchise was during her tenure on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” she continued to play Michelle Flaherty — the flutist with a wild side — through to “American Reunion” in 2012. Despite the raunchy comedy, this series also had a lot of heart and sincerity. “It’s so sweet and I loved the way they ended up together,” Hannigan told Moviehole about how Michelle and Jim’s (Jason Biggs) relationship evolved during the movies. Hannigan was planning her wedding while promoting the third film in the franchise, “American Wedding” in 2003, and admitted she didn’t want to have the huge traditional wedding like Jim and Michelle had in the movie.
Everyone assumed “American Wedding” would be the last movie in the series. Even Hannigan admitted she hadn’t envisioned a fourth movie, telling CBS, “Even after the third one we were like, this is probably it. It’s a trilogy, that sounds good.” In 2012, Hannigan and the original cast surprised everyone by returning in “American Reunion,” when the friends congregated in East Great Falls, Michigan, for their 10-year high school reunion.
Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof got married in 2003
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Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof met on the set of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in 1997 when he began playing the new watcher, Wesley Wyndam-Pryce. It was attraction at first sight, for Hannigan, but Denisof was hesitant. “I was trying to pursue him, but he said he didn’t want to date somebody he was working with,” Hannigan told The Sun. “We developed a great friendship and I started dating someone else.”
After that relationship ran its course, Denisof admitted he had developed feelings for Hannigan and they started dating in 1999. Hannigan told The Sun that her mother had counseled her to think deeply before marriage. “It wasn’t an important thing for me until I met Alexis,” Hannigan admitted to Moviehole, adding, “I know he’s the one for me.” Denisof proposed during a road trip through wine country in northern California in 2001.
They married in October 2003 at Two Bunch Palms resort near Palm Springs, California, in an intimate ceremony. “It was very small, so a lot of people got nixed,” Hannigan told Entertainment Weekly, adding “Jason Biggs gave me hell for not being invited.” Hannigan and Denisof celebrated their 20th anniversary in October 2023.
Alyson Hannigan guest-starred in a few well-known series
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After “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” ended in 2003, Alyson Hannigan hesitated to sign on for another long-running series. “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,” Hannigan told Moviehole. “I would never see my future husband and so I’m going to explore other things.” Rather than signing on to star in a new series, Hannigan shook things up by guest starring in some of the most popular series of that time.
Hannigan lent her acting talents to “That 70s Show,” in a two-episode story arc playing Suzy Simpson, a young woman who develops a crush on Michael Kelso (Ashton Kutcher) during their time in the police academy. Hannigan played Trina Echolls, Logan’s (Jason Dohring) self-centered step-sister, in three episodes of “Veronica Mars.” Hannigan also guest starred on “King of the Hill,” lending her voice to Stacey Gibson an emotionally unstable student who becomes obsessed with Bobby (Pamela Adlon) after he becomes a peer counselor in an unfortunate attempt to meet girls.
Alyson Hannigan tried her hand at theater
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In 2004, Alyson Hannigan starred opposite Luke Perry, of “Beverly Hills, 90210” fame, in a stage adaptation of “When Harry Met Sally” in London’s West End. Although some theatergoers in London were reportedly frustrated with the Americanization of London’s West End, Hannigan argued Americans were perfect for this play. “First of all, this play takes place in New York so I think it’s better with Americans,” Hannigan told The Guardian, adding, “I don’t care if you hate me for doing it. I wanted to come to prove to myself that I could do it.”
As for the famous “I’ll have what she’s having” scene from the film, Hannigan admitted, “I’ve been practicing and I have gotten over the embarrassment factor.” Hannigan shared with The Guardian, “Every time I do it, I get more and more confident and bigger and bigger. Now I have to learn how to do it from my diaphragm rather than my throat.”
Although the play didn’t garner universally glowing reviews, Hannigan was praised with the statement, “The best thing about a pointless evening is Alyson Hannigan who lends Sally a bright-eyed perkiness,” The Guardian reported, adding, “Hannigan does an unearthly impression of the young Meg Ryan: complete with pert and self-satisfied little smirk.” Perry didn’t fare so well under the scrutiny of London theater critics who agreed he was miscast as Harry.
Alyson Hannigan struck television gold with How I Met Your Mother
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Show creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas based Ted (Josh Radnor) and Marshall (Jason Segel) upon themselves, while Lily was based on Thomas’ wife, Rebecca. She was a huge “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” fan and advocated for Alyson Hannigan to be cast as Lily. Just because Hannigan was the first choice for the role didn’t mean it was a done deal, and she still had to audition for the part.
Hannigan admitted this process was stressful. “I hate auditioning. I’m not a great auditioner,” Hannigan told Brian Baumgartner during an appearance on “Off the Beat” podcast. Hannigan told Baumgartner she nearly ruined Segel’s chemistry read, because she stole one of his punchlines. Luckily, their comedic chemistry saved the day and Segal was cast as Marshall and Hannigan as Lily.
Hannigan planned to take time off after “Buffy” ended because she was a newlywed and wanted to make time for her marriage, but when Hannigan read the script for “How I Met Your Mother” she knew the series was too good to pass up and signed on to play Lily Aldrin for a staggering nine seasons. The sitcom was a CBS mainstay and cemented the cast’s collective stardom.
Alyson Hannigan became a mother of two
On March 24, 2009, after nearly six years of marriage, Alyson Hannigan and Alexis Denisof became parents. The couple kept the gender of their baby secret during pregnancy but announced that they welcomed their first daughter, Satyana Marie Denisof, into the world. Their firstborn shares a birthday with Hannigan, making her birth story extra special. “They’re very excited, and mom and baby are doing great,” the couple’s representative told People Magazine.
Hannigan admitted to Us Weekly that becoming a mother “has changed me in every way because my life is so much greater.” She continued, “It filled a void I never knew was there — it’s the most amazing experience of my life. I just feel so blessed to get to be on this journey, to be a mommy.” Although producers hid Hannigan’s baby bump during her first pregnancy, “How I Met Your Mother” worked Hannigan’s second pregnancy into the storyline of Season 7. On May 23, 2012, Hannigan and her husband welcomed their second daughter, Keeva Jane Denisof, making their family of four complete.
Alyson Hannigan stared in Kim Possible
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Alyson Hannigan joined the Disney family and took on the role of Dr. Ann Possible in the live-action adaptation of “Kim Possible” in 2019. “I loved the idea of bringing forth a young female character that is completely comfortable in her body and able to take on the world while at the same time expressing genuine vulnerabilities about how to find yourself and trying to find your internal light as you ground yourself in the world,” executive producer Zanne Devine told Variety.
Although Hannigan once played a witch who helped save the world repeatedly in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” this time she took on the role of mentor, playing Kim’s (Sadie Stanley) mom. Although Hannigan rarely brings her daughters to premieres, preferring for her girls to have a normal childhood out of the spotlight, Hannigan walked the red carpet with her husband and their two daughters.
Hannigan took a moment at the premiere to talk about how important it is to share a character like Kim Possible with her daughters. “As a mom of two girls, it’s just so wonderful for me to watch them, like, look up to this kind of a character you know,” Hannigan told Red Carpet Report. “I want them to role-play like the strong, you know, female character that can save the world.” Hannigan loved hanging out with the young cast and shared how infectious their on-set energy was.
Alyson Hannigan starred in Flora & Ulysses
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Alyson Hannigan has starred in a handful of films over the years, but lately, she’s been teaming up with Disney for multiple projects. In 2021, Hannigan starred as Phyllis, in “Flora & Ulysses,” an adaptation of the beloved children’s book. It’s a delightful story about a superhero squirrel and the little girl who rescues him. When asked what drew her to the project, Hannigan was enthusiastic. “I was such a fan of the book. I immediately wanted to do it,” Hannigan told Screenrant. “It was just really exciting to do something that my kids already were familiar with. So it was kind of a no-brainer.” Hannigan loved working with Matilda Lawler, who plays Flora in the movie, saying “She is so talented. She’s so professional as well.”
Hannigan shared how she hopes audiences are inspired by the film’s message of holding on to hope, “Because especially now things can be very dark and overwhelming and it’s okay to have hope and you kind of have to have it in order to get yourself through whatever your situation is,” Hannigan told Screenrant. Getting to watch her daughters enjoy a movie she was in was a really special experience for Hannigan. “Oh, this is absolutely their favorite … it was just like maybe the greatest gift I’ve gotten as an actress and a mom … They genuinely loved it and not because I’m in it … They just loved it.”
Alyson Hannigan and her husband are active in the Los Angeles real estate market
In 2016, Alyson Hannigan and her husband Alexis Denisof bought a home in Encino, California for $7.95 million. According to The Los Angeles Times, this purchase price was a record for San Fernando Valley real estate prices. The home was built in 2001 and is situated on 3 acres with stately oaks, palms, and fruit trees. Before purchasing the home, Hannigan and Denisof put a home in Santa Monica up for lease and listed a Brentwood home for $8.795 million. The couple sold the iconic property in Encino — known as the Sherman Residence – in 2022 for a whopping $16 million, setting yet another record in San Fernando Valley real estate.
In 2021 Hannigan revealed her Encino home was used as the set for the last season of NBC’s beloved family drama, “This is Us.” Although they knew their new home had been used as a set for films before purchasing the property in 2016, Hannigan and Denisof hadn’t planned to rent it out as a filming location. “I think my house’s resume is longer than mine,” Hannigan said on “The Michelle Collins Show.” She shared how after agreeing to rent it out, “Not only did they give us our house back in wonderful shape, they fixed things that I had damaged.”
Alyson Hannigan added voice acting to her resume
Alyson Hannigan began doing voice acting while playing Willow Rosenberg on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” voicing characters in “Rugrats” and “The Wild Thornberrys.” Hannigan continued to lend her voice to many productions over the years. She voiced multiple characters in three episodes of “American Dad” and joined the cast of “The Simpsons” for one episode. Hannigan also joined her “Buffy” alumni Seth Green in two episodes of his animated series, “Robot Chicken.”
Hannigan was such a fan of the “Fancy Nancy” book, that she asked her agent to reach out when she heard it was going to be adapted into an animated series. Although she offered to play the dog, Frenchy, Hannigan was cast as Claire Clancy in 57 episodes of “Fancy Nancy.” Although Hannigan has done voice work throughout her career, “Fancy Nancy” was her first foray into being a series regular. “My whole life, I’ve always wanted to do cartoons, and I don’t think I was actually really good at it until I became a mother,” Hannigan told Paste Magazine.
Alyson Hannigan became a television host
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In recent years, Alyson Hannigan branched out from acting and became a television host in 2016 for 103 episodes of the CW’s reality show “Penn & Teller: Fool Us.” Hannigan wasn’t sure she would be a good host, but she was a big fan of Penn, having worked with him on a film. “To work with living legends, and to watch my kids get to learn their first magic tricks from Teller, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Hannigan gushed to TV Insider.
Hannigan is a self-professed crafting junkie, and you can see that thread in the series she hosted for the Food Network. In 2020, she hosted the “Girl Scout Cookie Championship” where professional bakers compete in a cookie decorating contest. When asked if she would consider joining the competition, Hannigan admitted, “I doubt it because I take so long,” to E! News, adding, “I would crumble under the pressure.”
Later Hannigan became a host on the Food Network’s “Outrageous Pumpkins” competition, where sculptors transform pumpkins into incredible pieces of art. Hannigan loves Halloween and was inspired by the contestants. “My carving skills aren’t the best part of my Halloween décor because I haven’t focused on it enough,” Hannigan told The New York Post, adding how “this show has inspired me to up my game and has taught me so many great new tricks.”
Alyson Hannigan was a contestant on Dancing With the Stars
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In 2023, Alyson Hannigan became a contestant on Season 32 of “Dancing with the Stars.” All of her performances show how much she enjoys dancing with her partner, Sasha Farber, and how much she enjoys the scenarios of the dance routines. From her Halloween-themed nod to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” to a “Beauty and the Beast”-themed jazz performance, Hannigan brought her A-game to the competition.
Hannigan’s dedication to the show was made even more clear when she danced her way through an intense migraine. “I didn’t realize migraines can also cause you to just throw up anything in your body,” Hannigan told Entertainment Weekly after her Motown night performance. Hannigan might not be taking as many acting jobs as she once did, but it’s clear she’s enjoying throwing herself into the dance contest.
Over the years, we’ve watched Hannigan transform. In the years after “Buffy” ended, we’ve watched her become a confident actress, wife, mother, television host, and most recently — a dancing diva — proving Hannigan just might have more hidden talents to share with fans.News Related