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