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|Also Known As:||Christopher Benson||Died:|
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Pretty blonde performer Amber Benson racked up numerous film and television credits before rising to fame on the popular supernatural series "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama, Benson moved with her family to Los Angeles at age fourteen in 1991. By 1993 she had made the first of three "Jack Reed" TV-movies, "Jack Reed: Badge of Honor," appearing as the daughter of the titular Chicago cop in this NBC entry as well as its 1994 and 1996 follow-ups. 1993 also saw the actress make her big-screen debut with featured roles in the teen thriller "The Crush" and Steven Soderbergh's coming-of-age drama "King of the Hill." Her relatively small but memorable parts in these very different features helped to launch the young performer's career. The following year she was featured in Anthony Drazan's period drama "Imaginary Crimes" and had a pivotal supporting role in the social satire "S.F.W.." Playing determined, pure-hearted and somewhat wise characters seemed to come easy to Benson, who brought a palpable intelligence to her powerful performances. She essayed the charmingly innocent daughter of divorced dad Randy Quaid in "Bye Bye, Love" (1995) and guest starred on an episode of the Fox series "Partners" the following year.
Though her role as 'Stoned Girl' in the teen comedy "Can't Hardly Wait" was drastically cut to earn a PG-13 rating, Benson soon became a familiar presence to the film's target audience when she began appearing on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (The WB) the following year. Her 1999-2001 recurring role as the good witch who becomes more than just a friend to fellow enchantress Willow (Alyson Hannigan) saw the actress taking on controversial topics and earning the esteem of the notoriously hard-to-please "Buffy" fan base. When the series moved to UPN in 2001, Benson's role was upgraded to that of a regular. In connection with "Buffy," the actress sought to broaden the scope of her talents, co-writing with novelist Christopher Golden the comic book WannaBlessedBe, based on her character on the supernatural series.
Back on the big screen, Benson was featured in the festival-screened, controversy-plagued "Don's Plum" (2001; filmed 1995-96) which was barred from domestic release as per a legal agreement mandated by the film's stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Tobey Maguire, who allege the project was misrepresented. Taking over her own project, Benson proved a multitalented filmmaker and avid do-it-yourselfer as writer, producer, director and prime financer of "Chance" (lensed 2001), a dark comedy in which she also starred.
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