On TV’s Buffy, Alyson Hannigan is the often introspective Lesbian Willow of the Slayer, but manages to really let her hair down as the deceptively sweet-natured band camp girl in love with geeky Jim in American Pie. In the sequel, Hannigan has a blast as the wacky character, and had no hesitation in joining the cast for this second slice of American pie, as she divulged to Paul Fischer.v
There are certain moments in the new American Pie, in which perky co-star Alyson Hannigan, who plays the often sweet clarinet-playing Michelle, has moments of pure nerdy sweetness, counterbalanced by outrageous pieces of profanity. It’s this hilarious duality that enticed Hannigan to the world of American Pie. “Hell, yeah, man, how do you think they got me this time?”
The actress confesses that this movie “is definitely my sense of humour, and something that, if it wasn’t something I wasn’t a part of, I’d be first in line to see”, she admits laughingly. The actress is not shy to admit that she is “basically a disgusting, gross-out kind of person and I can out-gross the boys.” In the sequel, Hannigan’s Michelle finally makes to band camp, where she teaches Jim a few tricks about love and sex. “He was a lot more sloppy this time around”, Hannigan wryly responds when asked about sleeping with co-star Jason – on camera – in Pie 2.
While American Pie 2 isn’t without its fair share of outrageous comedy, this time around, there is a lot more humanity as these characters really do grow up. That growth, particularly evident in the Jim-Michelle relationship, was part of the appeal, Hannigan says, for returning to American Pie. “That was definitely the big draw for me, because I didn’t really see a reason for my character to COME back, then when I saw the development of their relationship, it really touched me.”
It was a more assured Hannigan, currently working on a sixth season of Buffy, who is promoting Pie 2. She, and the rest of the gang, has grown up a lot since the 1999 American Pie became an unexpected hit. Now those former fresh-faced youngsters have become individual success stories, a fact which has impacted on the group as it gets together to promote Pie 2. “We were just doing a photoshoot for Newsweek, and I remember doing something similar for the first movie, and there were like four people behind the photographer; now it’s more like forty, with this HUGE entourage,” she says laughingly.
“But that also reflects how much more aware we are of what this business is, and people can do with that information what they want. In other words, they can take advantage of it, manipulate it and become complete divas, or you can just keep your head on straight and try to be normal.” With her unassuming and natural beauty, couple with an obvious intelligence, Hannigan is determined to fit into the latter category of actor. A fierce campaigner in the fight against breast cancer, Alyson Hannigan has been on the showbiz treadmill since the age of four. Born in 1974 in Washington DC, she worked in commercials as a child and moved to LA when she was eleven in the hope of carving a career in TV and film.
Her breakthrough was in ‘My Stepmother Is An Alien’, playing Dan Aykroyd’s misunderstood daughter, Jessie. One of her co-stars, ironically, was a certain Seth Green. Their paths crossed again on the sitcom ‘Free Spirit’. Other notable appearances were in ‘Picket Fences’, ‘Touched By An Angel’, and as one of Becky’s friends in ‘Roseanne’. The success of ‘Buffy’, which debuted in 1997, has raised her profile even higher. After the feature film ‘Dead Man on Campus’, she cemented that success in ‘American Pie’, and now its sequel. Though voted one of the most 100 Beautiful Women in FHM Magazine, Hannigan shies away from being overtly sexual- even in the sex comedy romp that is American Pie. “Luckily my career isn’t based on my body”, she insists smilingly. “I always get to play the big, quirky sidekick, those offbeat characters, so the pressure is a lot less for ME than somebody who’d automatically be typed in that role.”
In between her film work, Hannigan returns to Buffy as Willow. In the US, controversy is rife with the show’s switch in TV networks from the youth-oriented WB to the more fledgling UPN, but Hannigan is unphased and relishes the challenges that lay ahead. “I’m very happy with the network change. It’s given us so much more energy and it really feels as if we’re starting a new show, and after 100 episodes that’s an amazing gift.”
At the end of the previous season, Buffy is killed off, but bearing in mind we’re talking vampires here, Hannigan reveals that “there’s always a way to bring somebody back, and that was planned whether we were changing networks or not.” As for Willow’s sexuality issues, “she’s well and truly discovered who she is now and is now exploring it; she’s in a relationship and it’s great.” Hannigan, who remains under contract for at least the next two years, is more than happy to stay with Buffy as long as they want her, even if she’s eighty at the time. “If it stays a quality show, I’m there.”