Alyson Hannigan who plays Lily on the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother doesn’t want the fun to end, even though CBS announced the series would sign off after 9 seasons this spring. “I’m trying to convince [Jason] Segel to do the spin-off,” says Hannigan. “He said he’ll do it if it’s called, Out By Lunch and we can get out by lunch everyday and we only work a couple days a week. I’m like, ‘I’m in.’ We can do it—we work really quickly together.”
At least Hannigan has ample warning that HIMYM will be ending—that wasn’t exactly the case with her last notable role: “The day that the Entertainment Weekly cover came out [“Buffy Quits”, March 7, 2003]—that was the day we all found out Buffy was over,” recalls Hannigan. “I was devastated. I was just very shocked.”
But Hannigan’s sadness was short-lived thanks to the most wonderful, but (kind of) unlikely savior. “[That same day] I got an amazing phone call saying J. J. Abrams wants to meet with you and I was like, ‘Oh! Well this day just got a lot brighter.’ And I had a wonderful meeting with J.J. Abrams.”
The prolific producer was a fan of Hannigan’s work as Willow on Buffy and wanted to court her for an hour-long TV drama, but she was reticent to sign on to another one so quickly. “I was planning my wedding [to Alexis Denisof, who recurs on HIMYM as blowhard newscaster Sandy Rivers] and I was just coming off Buffy, and I know the hours. I had to make the hardest decision of my life—telling J.J. Abrams I didn’t want to do a one-hour show,” Hannigan says. “I want to do comedy and I want to see my husband once in a while. So I said, ‘Do you maybe want to do a half hour? Like a comedy? Please?’ It was such a nice thank-you and gave me hope that people would want to work with me. I’m forever grateful to him and it made my devastation very short-lived.”
So what show was it? Hannigan says she thinks Abrams was recruiting her for a pilot that didn’t get picked up. “It wasn’t like Lost or something. Could you imagine if I turned down Lost? (Um, no we can’t—but how amazing would Hannigan have been on that show?)
But now that HIMYM is signing off next spring, she’d love to hear from Abrams again: ” I’m available for Star Wars just so you know!”
For more from Hannigan and exclusive scoop on the new season of How I Met Your Mother, pick up this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly on newsstands Friday.