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Alyson Hannigan

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Alyson Hannigan

Alyson Hannigan, April 2003
Born Alyson Lee Hannigan
(1974-03-24) March 24, 1974
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Other names Alyson Denisof
Occupation actress
Years active 1986–present
Spouse(s) Alexis Denisof (2003–present)

Alyson Lee Hannigan (born March 24, 1974) is an American actress. She is best known for her roles as Willow Rosenberg on 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.

Early life

Hannigan was born in Washington, D.C., the daughter 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 a year after her birth 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.

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.

In 1997, at 23 Hannigan was cast to play Willow Rosenberg, Buffy's best friend, on the television series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (replacing Riff Regan, who played Willow in the unaired 25-minute pilot). 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. 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 to promote regular breast cancer screenings for the organization Stand Up 2 Cancer.

With husband Alexis Denisof

Personal life

Hannigan has dated Ginger Fish of Marilyn Manson. She married actor Alexis Denisof (who 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) 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 at home six years later on March 24, 2009, Hannigan's 35th birthday.


Hannigan at a celebration of the 100th episode of How I Met Your Mother in January 2010.
Year Film Role Notes
1986 Impure Thoughts Patty Stubbs As Allison Hannigan
1988 My Stepmother Is an Alien Jessie Mills
1991 Switched at Birth Gina Twigg, Age 13–16 TV movie
1995 The Stranger Beside Me Dana TV movie
1996 A Case for Life Iris TV movie
For My Daughter's Honour Kelly TV movie
1998 Dead Man on Campus Lucy
1999 Hayley Wagner, Star Jenna Jakes TV movie
American Pie Michelle Flaherty
2000 Boys and Girls Betty
2001 American Pie 2 Michelle Flaherty
Beyond the City Limits Lexi
2003 American Wedding Michelle Flaherty
2004 Americana Andrea TV movie
2005 In the Game Unknown TV movie
2006 Date Movie Julia Jones
Year Title Role Notes
1989–1990 Free Spirit Jessie Harper Regular (14 episodes)
1990 Roseanne Jan Episode: "Like, a New Job"
1993 Almost Home Samantha Episode: "The Dance"
Episode: "Hot Ticket"
1994 Touched by an Angel Cassie Peters Episode: "Cassie's Choice"
1996 Picket Fences Peggy Patterson Episode: "To Forgive Is Devine"
1996 Friends for Life Emma Daniels Unaired TV Pilot
1999–2000 100 Deeds for Eddie McDowd Gigi Episode: "All Howls Eve"
Episode: "The Return of Gigi"
2000 The Wild Thornberrys Gerda Episode: "Every Little Bit Alps"
1997–2003 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Willow Rosenberg Regular (144 episodes)
2001–2003 Angel Episode: "Disharmony"
Episode: "There's No Place Like Plrtz Glrb"
Episode: "Orpheus"
2004 That '70s Show Suzy Simpson Episode: "Sally Simpson"
Episode: "Won't Get Fooled Again"
King of the Hill Stacey Gibson Episode: "Talking Shop"
2005 Veronica Mars Trina Echolls Episode: "Ruskie Business"
Episode: "Hot Dogs"
Episode: "My Mother, the Fiend"
2009 The Goode Family Michelle Episode: "Graffiti in Greenville"
2005–present How I Met Your Mother Lily Aldrin Regular (114 episodes)
2010 The Simpsons Substitute teachers daughter Season 22: Episode 10: "Flaming Moe"
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