'American' star all grown up

Hannigan bids farewell to band geek

— While talking two summers ago about "American Pie 2," Alyson Hannigan dismissed herself as a sex symbol.

"Luckily, my career is not based on my body. I play the quirky sidekicks, the offbeat characters. I'm not the boobs in a movie," she said.

But Hannigan is a wallflower no more.

The scarlet-haired actress who played the good witch Willow on television's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" and band-camper in the "American Pie" movies has lately embraced her naughty side.

Hannigan shed her "American Pie" character's googly-eyed plain-Jane dopeyness in favor of girl-next-door seductive chic in the new sequel "American Wedding."

"Yeah, I didn't have to geek out as much!" the 29-year-old said during a phone interview.

"I've become a woman," she said. "I'm all growed-up now."

Consider the recent FHM magazine cover photo of her making smokey eyes at the camera while arching her back in skimpy lingerie.

"Whoo hoo hoo!" Hannigan said about the magazine shot. "Hey baby, that's always fun to do. It's always fun to glam up and show a different side of myself."

Although she doesn't flash a lot of skin or have any hot love scenes in "American Wedding," she does get to say some eyebrow-raising dirty talk to co-star Eugene Levy.

Her bottom-lip nibbling character of Michelle Flaherty always had a buried sexual aggression that used her innocent appearance as part of the joke.

In the first "American Pie" movie, Jim (Jason Biggs) settles on her because he struck out with his dream girl. After listening to Michelle's insufferable sing-songy "This one time ... at band-camp ..." stories all night, she eradicates his virginity.

"All of her lines had a question mark at the end of them. I sort of just fooled around with it for a few minutes, and just immediately heard her voice," Hannigan said. "And of course now it will never leave my head.

"I definitely try to avoid any similarities in our speaking," she added. "I can never start a story with 'This one time ...' Those words have sort of been nixed from my vocabulary."


AP Photo

Actress Alyson Hannigan, who stars in Universal Pictures' 'American Wedding,' is pictured at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles. Hannigan was promoting the comedy, released Friday, in which she sheds some of her band-geek image from previous films in the 'American' trilogy.

A 'Buffy' similarity

Even Willow, who started out on "Buffy" as the brown-jumper-wearing shy schoolgirl -- good with computers and occult research, bad with boys and fashion -- eventually absorbed Hannigan's subversive sensuality, said series creator Joss Whedon, who described the actress as "one of my favorite people in the universe."

"As characters evolve, they become more like the actor playing them," he said. "So Willow started getting sexier and cooler and more empowered. Alyson is too cool and sexy to remain nerd-girl for too long."

Now that she has reached leading lady status, Hannigan said she hoped the goofy comedy parts don't go away.

"If a great part comes along and it's not the glamour-puss, then it's not like I'm not going to do it just because I don't get to wear the best clothes and stuff," she said. "I'd much rather be funny than sexy."


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