“I mean, I was a kid. I still kind of thought maybe I'd be a professional soccer player or a fireman or an astronaut, you know? So being an actor was pretty low on the list at that point. By the time I had finished my studies at St. Paul's School, I knew I wanted to be an actor.” Alexis Denisof
Alexis Denisof worked in movies, on television and on stage in the United Kingdom before achieving success in America thanks largely to his role of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (1999) and its spin-off, “Angel” (1999-2004). He received three Saturn nominations for his performance in the latter show. More recently, Denisof had multiple episode roles in CBS' “How I Met Your Mother” (2006, as Sandy Rivers) and Fox's “Dollhouse” (2009, as Senator Daniel Perrin). His film credits include “Murder Story” (1989), “First Knight” (1995), The Misadventures of Margaret” (1998), “Noah's Ark” (1999, TV) and “Beyond the City Limits” (2001).
Denisof has been married to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” cast member Alyson Hannigan since 2003 and has one daughter with her. The couple currently resides in Los Angeles and also own residences in London and Sacramento. Denisof dated comedienne Caroline Aherne when he lived in Britain.
Childhood and Family:
Alexis Denisof was born on February 25, 1966, in Salisbury, Maryland. At age 3, his family moved to Seattle, Washington, where his mother taught drama. When he was 13, Alexis attended the renowned St. Paul's School, a private, college preparatory boarding school in Concord, New Hampshire. He recalled, “I was 13 years old and going away to school would be a change for any 13 year old. But to go from Seattle, Washington, to Concord, New Hampshire, was a big change geographically and culturally and then also the kind of intense type academic environment that Ivy League boarding schools create was a big change. It's all at a formative time in your life, so on the one hand I treasure the time that I had there and am very grateful for all of the values and educational opportunities it provided. It was also in some ways a shock to the system.”
After graduating, Alexis moved to Britain and attended the prestigious London Academy of Music & Dramatic Arts (RADA). He would stay in England for the next 10 years before moving back to the United States.
Meeting on the set of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” Alexis and costar Alyson Hannigan became attracted to each other but maintained a professional working relationship. They did not begin dating until after Alexis moved from “Buffy” to the series “Angel” in 2000. The couple became engaged a year later and exchanged wedding vows on October 11, 2003, in California. On March 24, 2009, Alexis and his wife welcomed their first child, daughter Satyana Denisof.
Alexis is of Russian lineage. He explained, “My family emigrated during the revolution. My grandfather was from outside of Moscow and my grandmother, although some of her family were French, was from Odessa. They met as immigrants in New York in the early '20s. My mother's family came over from Ireland generations ago. That's where the silly name is from, but it's not made up! You couldn't think that one up. Mom says my father was torn between naming me Archibald and Reginald and so I'm delighted he settled on naming me after my grandfather.”
Alexis Denisof performed at ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) while living in Seattle. After moving to London, the RADA graduate had a productive stage career and his credits include performing with Ian McKellan in a Royal Shakespeare Company production of “Hamlet.” Denisof got his first national exposure when he appeared in George Harrison's music video for the hit single “Got My Mind Set on You” (1987), which led to his feature film acting debut in the independent British thriller “Murder Story” (1989), opposite Christopher Lee.
Denisof made his first TV series appearance in the short-lived drama “Shrinks” in 1991. Later that same year, he supported Vicent Perez in the French film “La neige et le feu” (Snow and Fire), which was directed by Claude Pinoteau. He then appeared in Nick Ward's “Dakota Road” (1992), a TV movie adaptation of Shakespeare's “Romeo & Julie” (1994), where he played Tybalt, opposite Jonathan Firth and Geraldine Somerville in the title roles. He also appeared in the miniseries “Faith” (1994, starred Michael Gambon) and the thriller “Innocent Lies” (1995, with Gabrielle Anwar and Stephen Dorff) before giving a small, but compelling, performance as Sir Gaheris in “First Knight,” a 1995 American film directed by Jerry Zucker and starring Sean Connery, Richard Gere and Julia Ormond.
Back to British cinema, Denisof supported Johan Leysen, Geraldine Somerville, Dominic West and Dylan Baker in the sport themed film “True Blue” (1996), adapted from the 1989 book “True Blue: The Oxford Boat Race Mutiny” by Dan Topolski and Patrick Robinson. The next year, he portrayed the role of Lord John Rossendale in three TV films about Richard Sharpe: “Sharpe's Revenge,” “Sharpe's Justice” and “Sharpe's Waterloo.” He was also seen in the BBC television movie “Hostile Waters,” opposite Martin Sheen, and guest starred in the TV series “Crime Traveler” and “Highlander.” He then teamed up with Parker Posey, Brooke Shields, Jeremy Northam and Corbin Bernsen in Brian Skeet's “The Misadventures of Margaret,” which was a hit at the Sundance Film Festival, made a guest appearance as Dennis in the long running British drama “Ruth Rendell Mysteries” (both 1998), and appeared in the crime film “Rogue Trader” (1999), opposite Ewan McGregor and Anna Friel.
After living in Britain for over a decade, Denisof returned to the United States and tried to find work in Los Angeles. He ended up living with former costar Mary Steenburgen, who acted with him in the NBC TV movie “Noah's Ark” (1999) and her husband, Ted Danson, for a year. He said, “Ted and Mary are my saviors. I definitely wouldn't have made it without their psychological and emotional support.”
Denisof's luck started to change when he landed the role of Wesley Wyndam-Pryce in multiple episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in 1999. His career received an additional boost when he reprised his role on the show's spin-off, “Angel,” later that same year. Making his debut performance in the 10th episode “Parting Gifts,” Denisof was recruited as a main cast member and remained on the show until its demise on May 19, 2004. For his acting, he was nominated for three Saturn Awards in the category of Best Supporting Actor in a Television Series (2001, 2003 and 2004).
Denisof also had voice roles in episodes of “Batman Beyond” (2 episodes, 2001; as Zander) and “The Legend of Tarzan” (1 episode, 2001, as Henry) and the direct-to-video “Tarzan & Jane” (2002, as Nigel Taylor). He also costarred with Jennifer Esposito, Alyson Hannigan, Steve Harris and Nastassja Kinski in the dramatic film “Beyond the City Limits” (2001), helmed by Gigi Gaston. After “Angel,” in 2006, Denisof joined the cast of the Emmy Award winning sitcom “How I Met Your Mother” in the recurring role of Sandy Rivers and voiced Mirror Master in an episode of “Justice League.” He resurfaced two years later in a 2008 episode of “Private Practice,” a spin-off of “Grey's Anatomy” called “Serving Two Masters,” where he played a man named Daniel.
Recently, in 2009, Denisof played the recurring role of Senator Daniel Perr in the Fox science fiction series “Dollhouse,” from the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” Joss Whedon.
Denisof is rumored to be starring in the upcoming film “Milo,” from director Kelly Farrell and writer Jan Wilson. The film is scheduled to be released in 2010.