Alyson Hannigan Didn’t Think She Would Get Her ‘Buffy’ Role

For some people, Alyson Hannigan will forever be known as the band geek from the American Pie movies who practiced extracurricular activities with her flute. However, to a certain very devoted set of fans, Hannigan will forever be Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 

Willow, after all, was Hannigan’s initial claim to fame, but she almost didn’t get that role, thinking she completely botched her audition. However, she got on well with the cast and was given another chance, and a TV star was born. 

Even the most experienced actors blow auditions

Alyson hannigan
Alyson Hannigan | Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images

A bad audition is part and parcel of the actor’s life. No matter how hard they prepare, something goes wrong on the big day. And it doesn’t just happen to up and coming performers angling for a part.

Consider Leonardo DiCaprio. After starring in Titanic, then the biggest movie of all time, the actor theoretically should have been able to do whatever he wanted. He auditioned for Moulin Rouge, having already worked for Baz Luhrmann on Romeo + Juliet.  Should have been a walk in the park, right/

More like a face plant. According to What Culture, one teeny little problem derailed DiCaprio’s chances. He couldn’t sing a note. He tried out for Luhrmann as a lark, but when he strangled Lean on Me, the director told him, “Yes, D, I don’t know if this conversation should continue.’ ”

But DiCaprio ended up working with Luhrmann on The Great Gatsby, and the actor even poked fun at his meager singing abilities in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.” 

What happened at Alyson Hannigan’s audition?

Buffy the Vampire Slayer had initially been a 1992 movie with Kristy Swanson in the title role. That movie didn’t get a ton of attention, but one person who saw it was Joss Whedon, who decided he could stretch the concept into a weekly series. Willow Rosenberg wasn’t in the movie, but Whedon added a character who struggles with her powers as a kind of foil to Buffy. But Hanagan ended up struggling with her part. 

“I walked into a door and forgot all my lines,” she grimaced. The character’s nerdy computer jargon was all Greek to Hannigan, and she was sure she’d blown it. She may have flubbed the lines, but she hit the mark in another, less tangible way, since this had been a chemistry read.

Whedon liked what he felt, if not exactly what he heard. She did get the part, eventually earning a Teen Choice award for Hannigan.

‘Buffy’ leads to a bigger and better life

Buffy made Hannigan’s name, just as it made Sarah Michelle Gellar. Hannigan was able to parlay that success into the American Pie series, and she got a steady TV gig again playing Lily Aldrin in the long running How I Met Your Mother. As it turned out, Hannigan was able to get a “How I met your father” story out of Buffy

Hannigan married her Buffy and Angel co-star Alexis Denisof, who played Wesley. The couple wed in 2003 and had two daughters. That changed her life and career, leading Hannigan to play Fancy Nancy, for instance

“I feel like, definitely, everything changed when I became a mother… I absolutely think of my kids when I read something. And also, I just love being a mom and I love being with my family, so to get me to leave them to do something, I’ve gotta want to enjoy it and it’s gotta be something I want to do,” Hannigan said to She Knows.

Hannigan knows that one day, she’ll have to explain her more famous, harder to understand roles to her kids, but “I’ll tell you when you’re older” will have to do for now. She should be able to ace that chemistry read too.