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We asked Alyson Hannigan to dish on her career, her background, and a few of her favorite things. By Allison Winn Scotch

YOU KNOW ALYSON HANNIGAN’S ON-SCREEN ROUTINE: floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee with a sweet demeanor and a plethora of naughty punch lines. She gained attention first by playing Willow Rosenberg on the cult-hit series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which ran from 1997 to 2003, and then by making beautiful music with Jason Biggs as band-camp girl and flute aficionado Michelle Flaherty in the American Pie trilogy.

But ever since the debut of her hit CBS series How I Met Your Mother, now in its fourth season, we’ve been less concerned with the mysterious maternal title character and more interested in learning about this 34-year-old auburn-haired beauty. Here are six things you probably didn’t know about her.

1.ELEPHANTS MAKE HER CRY. “My favorite book is Modoc, The True Story of the Greatest Elephant That Ever Lived,” Hannigan admits. “It’s this story of this elephant, his trainer, and their journey that is just so touching and so unbelievable. You have to have some Kleenex to read it.”

2.SHE’S WATCHING YOU. “I used to love to people-watch at the airport,” she says. “It’s harder now because I’m the one people are looking at, but I love the interaction and seeing people get off planes and the people who greet them. I completely dissect everyone in my mind.”

3.SHE’S CRAFTY. “I’m obsessed with crafts -- like, Martha Stewart crafts,” says Hannigan. “I have my own craft room in my house. I think I keep Michaels in business. Right now, I’m on a big card-making kick, like pop-up cards. I have my friends over and we’ll have card-making parties for Valentine’s Day or whatever holiday we can think of. I’m a nerd!”

4.SHE HAS A BACKUP PLAN. “I went to college because, obviously, knowing what the business is like, I knew that I needed something to fall back on,” she says. “I chose Cal State, Northridge because it was close and I could still audition. I studied psychology and went for two years, and then I got a job that was shooting out of town for three weeks, so I figured, ‘Okay, I’ll take this semester off, and then I’ll go back next year.’ But that never happened because I continued to work.”

5.SHE’S A TEAM PLAYER. “We have amazing writers [on How I Met Your Mother],” she says. “If you had sat me down at the beginning of Buffy, there’s no way I would have come up with anything nearly as good as what [Buffy creator] Joss Whedon came up with. That’s why he’s Joss and I’m me.”

6.SHE REALLY DOES LIKE HER HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER COSTARS. “People can have great chemistry on camera and hate each other off of it,” Hannigan says. “[But with our cast,] the chemistry happened right away, and it was just one of those special things. In fact, I thought it was probably a curse on the show because we got along so well and there weren’t any attitude cases. It’s just really, really good luck.”