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Under Michelle's spell.

There's a strong now force in Sunnydale. Buffy has a sister, and she's slayed (opps, sory) ...played by 15-year-old Michelle Trachtenberg, Michelle has come a logn way since her Harriet the Spy Inspector Gadget days.

Wow, a lot has changed since we last talked to you, like four years ago!

Right. I was Harriet the Spy back then! I was just 11. Now I am 15.

You told us you spy on your neighbors. Do you still do that?

No. I don't spy from the roof anymore.

Tell us about your new gig on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You play Buffy's sister Dawn.

Dawn is just your average teenage girl. She has her worries and her thoughts that she always writes down in her journal. Buffy and I have our little sisterly tiffs. We argue over who can borrow whose clothing and that whole thing. But, deep down, Dawn has a great respect for Buffy. So that's my character in a nutshell.

Did Buffy always have a sister? Not that Dawn isn't great, but she seems to have just sort of popped up out of nowhere.

That's what a lot of people have been saying. But if viewers had paid really close attention, they'd see that my character has been showing up all over for the past three years. But there is a whole lot of mystery surrounding Dawn. I definitely raise a couple of eyebrows in Sunnydale. In episode five, it was revealed that Dawn is a key.

You're a key? That does sound mysterious.

A key to the world. Dawn is a kind of a force. She hasn't always been Buffy's sister, but she is now. I can't tell you all the juicy little details, but let's just say I have been around in the past and I know what's going on.

This isn't the first time you and Sarah Michelle Gellar have worked together.

We were both on the ABC daytime soap All My Children several years ago. Sarah played Kendall Hart Lang, the daughter of Erica Kane, who is like the lead character.

Did you play sisters then, too?

Well, in a soap opera, everyone s related somehow. Every character has been married to every other character, and everyone is a step or half relation to another character. I played Lily Montgomery, an autistic girl. My mom went through a couple of divorces and marriages, and I had a whole bunch of stepfathers and fathers. So I'm very proud to say I had five last names. Kendall's stepfather was my mother's husband's brother--or something like that.

And you and Sarah remained close?

We stayed very close through the years. A couple weeks before I got the call for Buffy, Sarah said, "Hey, come by the set, and see how it works. I know you've always loved the show--come and visit." I'd always been a big fan of the show, but I had absolutely no idea they were casting for Dawn. When I came to visit, I met with Joss Whedon, who created the show. I kind of saw how it worked behind the scenes. Then, later on, I got the call. It was an exciting process.

Do you and Sarah hang out and do stuff together, like go to the mall?

Sarah's actually been all about teaching me how to bowl. That's our new hobby--bowling. It's fun. Sarah has her own ball, and she's convincing me to get my own, too. It's fun!

And Sarah's hattie boyfriend Freddie Prinze Jr. comes along?

Yeah. He's just the sweetest thing. He's absolutely adorable. And he's a good bowler. He tries to give me tips. It just doesn't help.

Do you have a boyfriend?

I don't, actually. No, no boyfriends here.

We hear Sarah does a lot other own stunts on Buffy, and you did stunts in Harriet the Spy. Will you try to do your own on Buffy, too?

I've always loved to do my own stunts. I don't know why--it's just kind of fun to actually be in on the action. And the episode we're filming now has a lot of stunt work in it. I hope to be doing it myself. Sometimes the action just gets too intense, and they insist on using stunt people--for everyone's safety. But sometimes they'll let us do it ourselves, so that's really fun.

The other day, I saw a Buffy the Vampire Slayer jigsaw puzzle with Sarah's picture plastered on the front of the box. How would you feel about being a puzzle piece?

That could be interesting. I've been a Jeopardy question. The category was "Famous Michelles," and I was the $1,000 question: "Who played Harriet the Spy?"

Were you watching it?

My friend told me about it. He's Mr. Jeopardy. He was like, "Michelle, you're never going to believe this!" And I was like, "I hope you answered the question right."

You said your character likes to write in her journal. I know you do a lot of journal writing. Is that a trait the writers pulled from you?

Before we started the show, we had a meeting and they asked me what I like to do. As it turned out, they picked up some stuff from me for Dawn. I keep a journal and, obviously, so does Dawn. It's something I think is really important because, well, I'm very lucky to have a supportive family, but I think it's a good thing to be able to randomly write a whole bunch of opinions that maybe you can't say out loud.

Some journals have places to fill in your favorites. You're probably one of the few journal writers with a favorite commercial! The Cream of Wheat commercial I did was probably the worst!

And now you hate to eat Cream of Wheat!

Yes! Ugh! After that commercial, I vowed I would never eat Cream of Wheat again. My mom eats it and so does my sister. I just can't eat Cream of Wheat.

Ever do commercials for food you like?

I did a macaroni and cheese commercial. I'm fine with macaroni and cheese.

Four years ago, you were working on a book titled Death Penalty. Did you ever finish it?

I haven't finished it yet! Obviously I've written many more chapters. It's been a long journey. As I've gotten older, I have different opinions. I have a more advanced vocabulary. I can go back and really express a certain thought that I wrote in the sidelines with so much more depth to it. I'm constantly making rewrites. Usually I'm not one for the rewrites--the finished product is the finished product. But I really think that eventually it will be done.

That's some real stick-to-itiveness! If you were to turn your book into a movie, would you want to play the lead?

It'd be fun to play a part in my own movie. I don't know if I would necessarily play the lead. It's interesting enough to see a movie you worked so hard on. That's accomplishment enough. Just to be a little part of it is fun.

You are also very involved in a lot of anti-drug organizations, aren't you?

It's very important to be involved in charities. I try to do whatever I can do to help better our world. I think it's really horrible for people to do drugs. You can succeed without doing drugs. You can succeed if you believe in what you are doing. I've spoken at the National Coalition for a Drug Free America with President Clinton about trying to rinse away all the horrible influences. It's a cause I really believe in.

Have you ever had any personal experiences with friends getting wrapped up in drugs?

I never would surround myself with anyone doing drugs. I think that's one of the most disgusting habits, next to smoking.

Whatcha doing for the holidays?

I'm spending the holidays at home with my family. We celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah. I've got the best of both worlds. Big ol' meal, big ol' tree and a pretty menorah on the mantle. Nothing out of the ordinary.

We think that's pretty special!
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Title Annotation:TV actress Michelle Trachtenberg
Author:White, Kelly
Publication:Girls' Life
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2000
Previous Article:Hit the cyberspa.

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