Sarah Michelle Gellar

Also Credited As:

Sarah Gellar, Sarah Michelle Prinze
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Biography

An icon of the new breed of young, empowered females of the 1990s, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar earned her reputation over six years as the star of the cheeky action/fantasy series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (The WB, 1997-2001; UPN, 2001-03). With the exception of the well-received "Cruel Intentions" (1999), a modern, teen-centered adaptation of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuse, Gellar's feature film work stuck close to "Buffy" …
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Job Title

Actor, Music, Other

Born

April 14, 1977

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About

An icon of the new breed of young, empowered females of the 1990s, actress Sarah Michelle Gellar earned her reputation over six years as the star of the cheeky action/fantasy series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (The WB, 1997-2001; UPN, 2001-03). With the exception of the well-received "Cruel Intentions" (1999), a modern, teen-centered adaptation of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuse, Gellar's feature film work stuck close to "Buffy" range with horror films like "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997), supernatural thrillers like "The Grudge" (2004), and the campy mystery of the "Scooby Doo" films (2002, 2004). Gellar was one of the top box office draws of the teen set, bestowed with many an MTV and Nickelodeon Kids Choice Award, but even as the actress aged out of that demographic, her continued forays into dark and creepy features held men's magazine readers and the sci-fi crowd captive.

Gellar was born April 14, 1977, and raised in Manhattan primarily by her mother, a nursery school teacher. She was "discovered" by an agent while very young, and made her professional debut playing Valerie Harper's daughter in the 1983 CBS TV-movie "An Invasion of Privacy." She went on to land work in television commercials, and small roles in the feature films "Over the Brooklyn Bridge" (1984) and "High Stakes" (1989). In 1986, Gellar landed a supporting role in the off-Broadway production of Horton Foote's "The Widow Claire," in which she shared the stage with Matthew Broderick, and she returned off-Broadway in a production of Neil Simon's "Jake's Woman." While holding down a straight A average at the Professional Children's School and the Fiorello LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, Gellar launched her television career in the 1990s, playing the young Jacqueline Bouvier in the NBC miniseries "A Woman Named Jackie" in 1991, as well as one of the adolescents in a small wealthy suburb on the short-lived syndicated soap opera "Swan's Crossing" (1992).

Her big breakthrough came in 1993 when she was cast on ABC's "All My Children"(ABC, 1970- ) as the scheming Kendall Hart, the child born to Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) who arrives in town determined to make her mother pay dearly for having given her up for adoption. Gellar was twice nominated for a Daytime Emmy and shortly after winning in 1995, announced she would be leaving the show to further her budding film career, though rumors swirled at the time about the young actress' rocky relationship with the veteran Lucci.

Relocating to California from New York, Gellar won the role of Dyan Cannon's spoiled daughter in the Disney ABC TV movie "Beverly Hills Family Robinson" (1997). She also landed a major role alongside rising stars Ryan Phillippe, future husband-to-be Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Jennifer Love Hewitt in the crowd-pleasing slasher "I Know What You Did Last Summer" (1997) and a supporting part as one of Neve Campbell's college chums in "Scream 2" (1997) - both from the pen of top teen screenwriter Kevin Williamson. Her career-making year was capped off with Gellar's debut as Buffy, a high school teen who is "the chosen one" of her generation to destroy vampires, but who also would like to have a normal adolescence. Gellar won critical praise for her comic abilities, her physicality, and the "empowered" female attitude she brought to the screen. The series and its star garnered a rabid fan following almost instantly, but in addition to being a favorite of teens and fantasy buffs - not to mention readers of the men's magazine FHM, who voted Gellar the No. 1 "Sexiest Woman in the World" in 1999 - the show continually won over critics for its sharp, sophisticated writing.

With Gellar's new status as a young Hollywood "it" girl came more feature film offers, and while the actress floundered in the romantic comedy "Simply Irresistible" (1999), she shone in "Cruel Intentions" (1999), the surprisingly adept adaptation of the French classic Les Liaisons Dangereuse which reset the action in the world of privileged Manhattan teenagers. Hot on the heels of positive reviews for her performance in the film, Gellar earned a Golden Globe nomination for her primetime work on "Buffy." Her supporting role as a Mafia princess in the indie film "Harvard Man" (2001) was well off the radar of her fan demographic, but Gellar scored another hit when she reunited with husband Prinze in an adaptation of the classic cartoon "Scooby Doo" (2002), playing fashionista crime fighter Daphne and enjoying a box office blockbuster with the family-friendly comedy. While Gellar represented the live-action version of an animated character in the film, she also lent her voice to some of the more popular animated TV series of day including "Robot Chicken" (Cartoon Network, 2005- ) and "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ).

Eventually, the wildly popular "Buffy" ran its course and finally left the air in 2003. Following a pair of guest appearances on the dark spin-off "Angel" (WB, 1999-2004), Gellar continued to position herself as a Hollywood leading lady with the release of "The Grudge" (2004), an enigmatic horror flick that cast her as an American nurse in Tokyo who is exposed to a violent, mysterious virus. The film proved immensely successful and Gellar followed up with another crowd pleaser, the sequel "Scooby Doo 2" (2004), before retreating to darker material with the creepy thriller "The Return" (2006). An artful but little-seen film, it centered on a woman unraveling a puzzle of visions and paranormal events. She revived her role in the edge-of-your-seat sequel "The Grudge: 2" (2006) and earned more ink than box office receipts for Richard Kelly's gritty indie "Southland Tales" (2007), a psychedelic, futuristic epic that posited the end of Western civilization through an ensemble of characters including a police officer (Seann William Scott), a Iraq War veteran (Justin Timberlake) and a porn star (Gellar). The film famously bombed in Cannes and its reedited version was only shown on limited screens in the U.S., with some critics hailing it as a mess and others defending its complicated conspiratorial worldview as a significant achievement.

Gellar lent her voice to the animated family flop "Happily N'Ever After" (2006) and the big screen version of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (2007) before offering one of the high points of the ambitious indie "The Air I Breathe" (2007), an exploration of an ancient Chinese proverb through a series of intertwined stores. In a rare return to romantic comedy, Gellar co-starred opposite Alec Baldwin in "Suburban Girl" (2007), the loose film adaptation of Melissa Bank's chick-lit bestseller, The Girl's Guide to Hunting and Fishing. However, despite the star's respective popularity the film was released directly to home DVD. She retreated to haunted damsel mode as the star of "Possession" (2009), a psychological thriller that found her playing a car accident survivor whose fellow passengers emerge in various inexplicable states. Venturing into more character-driven drama territory (but keeping a foothold in the macabre) Gellar starred in "Veronika Decides to Die" (2009), an indie film about a failed suicide attempt that leads to a young woman's new appreciation of life, based on the bestseller by Paul Coelho.