My Life Coach Plan for Alyson Hannigan and Casting Directors Everywhere

Alyson Hannigan tends to take parts in shows that turn out to be wildly popular and last for years. For that reason we usually see her as a sweetheart of a character for long stretches of time.

Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1997
Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer from 1997

The result is that when we think of Alyson Hannigan we think of the nerdy and loyal best friend in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the funny, mild-mannered wife on How I Met Your Mother. A 7 year run and a 9 year run. Long runs as one character.

Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, and  Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother from 2012
Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother from 2012

Her long-running gigs make us forget something: Alyson Hannigan can do a whole lot more than we think she can as an actress. She’s had these two iconic parts in two iconic long-term shows that prevent her from showing different stuff. I believe she’s got different stuff to show.

Dark Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer was awesome. Alyson Hannigan nailed Dark Willow. Scary and very sexy. Alyson played flamboyant and over the top in Veronica Mars, even though her part was small there. I’m giving you those two cases as examples of different stuff.

Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz, and Alyson Hannigan in My Stepmother is an Alien from 1988
Jon Lovitz, Alyson Hannigan and Dan Aykroyd in My Stepmother is an Alien from 1988

She’s been in about a billion things since her first listing from 1985 on IMDB – movies, TV series, animated shows. Obviously, she can act. My point is, you probably don’t think of her as one of those talented actresses who can do everything well.

I think you should.

As the unappointed and unwanted life coach for Alyson Hannigan, I have some post How I Met Your Mother suggestions. I hope she’ll spend some time doing a few guest spots on wildly different shows – a lone survivor on The Walking Dead and some evil archetype on Once Upon a Time and a quirky visiting doctor on Grey’s Anatomy and a murderous Soviet spy on The Americans. Mix it up. Remind everyone that she’s got the different stuff.

Then she can go find another steady job that will last 7 or 8 years.

Casting directors everywhere should be reading this and taking it to heart. Hello? Casting directors?

Review: Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts is a charming indie written and directed by Josh Radnor. It looks like a straightforward love story in the trailer below, but it’s not exactly that. It’s a love story, but there’s no sex, hardly any kissing, and lots of moral choice involved in deciding who to love. Liberal Arts is also a story about where we belong in life, what we are meant to do, how to find happiness, and – most importantly – which books are best to read in every situation.

Josh Radner plays Jesse Fisher, an admissions officer in a college, but not the college in the story. Also in the film are Elizabeth Olsen as Zibby, the young coed you see charming Jesse in the preview. Richard Jenkins and Allison Janney are professors at the college in the tale. The parts Jenkins and Janney have are small but nuanced and add sub themes to the story about life and its meaning. Elizabeth Reaser as Ana isn’t shown in the preview, but you know from the first moment you see her in her bookstore that she’ll be an important part of the story, and indeed, she is.

I want to call out Zac Efron for his loopy portrayal of Nat – another small part that brings richness to Jesse’s quest to find purpose and love. Efron really shines as Nat, a character so unusual that Jesse asks him at one point, “Are you real?”

This film is full of seemingly small parts that add up to an elegant total. It’s one of the most fascinating features of the film: interesting actors in small parts that ultimately have an impact on how Jesse’s journey concludes.

The film was released in 2012. It’s currently available on Netflix. I absolutely recommend it.