Alyson Lee Hannigan (born March 24, 1974) is a Jewish American actress. She is known for her roles as Willow Rosenberg in the cult classic television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Michelle Flaherty in three American Pie films, and Lily Aldrin on the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.
Hannigan was born in Washington, D.C. She is the only child of Emilie Posner, a real estate agent, and Al Hannigan, a truck driver. Hannigan is of Irish descent on her father's side and Jewish on her mother's. Her parents divorced when she was two and she was raised mostly by her mother in Atlanta.
Although Hannigan had appeared in an industrial film for "Active Parenting" as a baby, as well as having starred in a commercial for the Duncan Hines cookie mix in 1978, it was not until 1985, when she moved to Los Angeles, California, that she formally began her acting career. Living with her mother and attending North Hollywood High School, she successfully auditioned for agents while visiting her father in Santa Barbara. After attending North Hollywood High School, she attended California State University, Northridge where she got a major in psychology.
Hannigan's first major film role was in My Stepmother Is an Alien, a science fiction comedy released in 1988; one of her co-stars in the film was actor Seth Green, who would later join her in the regular cast of Buffy as her on-screen boyfriend. Then in 1989, her first regular role on a TV series came when she was cast in the short-lived ABC sitcom Free Spirit.
Breakthrough career (1997–present)
In 1997, at 23 Hannigan was cast to play Willow Rosenberg, Buffy's best friend, on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The show became a success, and Hannigan gained recognition, subsequently appearing in several notable films aimed at teenage audiences, including American Pie, American Pie 2, Boys and Girls, and American Wedding. By the time Buffy had ended in 2003, Hannigan was earning a US$250,000 salary for each episode. She also had a guest spot on the Buffy spin-off, Angel, reprising her role of Willow in a few episodes (including most notably "Orpheus," during the fourth season of Angel and the seventh season of Buffy), but none after Buffy finished production.
In early 2004, Hannigan made her West End debut, starring in a stage adaptation of When Harry Met Sally... at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, opposite Luke Perry.
In 2005, Hannigan returned to starring in a regular television series, appearing in the hit comedy, How I Met Your Mother, as Lily, and also playing a recurring guest role on Veronica Mars as Trina Echolls.
In February 2006, Hannigan starred as Julia Jones in Date Movie, a parody of romantic comedies. She was also 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 recently became the new face of Head and Shoulders Shampoo.
She is reprising her role of Michelle, in American Reunion. The film will be released on April 6, 2012.
Hannigan has dated Ginger Fish of Marilyn Manson. She married actor Alexis Denisof at Two Bunch Palms Resort in Desert Hot Springs, California, on October 11, 2003. (Denisof played Wesley Wyndam-Pryce in the Buffy/Angel franchise and also appeared in How I Met Your Mother as Robin's co-anchor Sandy Rivers in the first and sixth season). They bought a house together in Santa Monica, California. Their daughter, Satyana Marie Denisof, was born at home five-and-a-half years later on March 24, 2009, Hannigan's 35th birthday. In December 2011, Hannigan's representative announced that the couple are expecting their second child.
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