Family & Companions
An athletic, appealing performer who decided at the age of nine that she wanted to be an actress, Kristy Swanson had racked up some 30 TV commercial credits by the age of 15. In 1986, she made her feature debut in the John Hughes-produced "Pretty in Pink" and also appeared in Hughes' "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" before essaying her first lead as the girl next door brought back to life a la Frankenstein in Wes Craven's "Deadly Friend." After landing a key role in the film version of V C Andrews' classic horror novel "Flowers in the Attic" (1987), Swanson segued to TV, playing the recurring part of Jody Campbell on "Knots Landing" (CBS) during the 1987-88 season, followed by turns as Lynn Ellingsworth in two 1989 installments of "B.L. Stryker" (aired under the umbrella of "The ABC Mystery Movie"). She had her first shot at series stardom portraying student nurse Rebecca Halliday in the short-lived Aaron Spelling-produced "Nightingales" (NBC, 1989). When small screen stardom eluded her, Swanson once again returned to features as the female lead of "Mannequin 2: On the Move" (1991), but the choice to play a medieval peasant trapped in the body of a mannequin proved embarrassing. Her career received a big boost, albeit delayed, as the Valley Girl title character of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (1992). Despite her engaging, exuberant performance and quirky turns from the likes of Paul Reubens (a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman), future Oscar-winner Hilary Swank and Rutger Hauer, the film failed to perform at the box office. But fans discovered its young star when the picture became a hot video rental, helping to spawn the highly successful TV series version. She put her athleticism to good use as a calm, cool tennis star in "The Program" (1993) and starred as a millionaire's daughter taken hostage by an innocent man (Charlie Sheen) on the run in "The Chase" (1994), though director John Singleton showed her to better effect in that year's "Higher Learning," as a naive college freshman coming to terms with her burgeoning homosexuality. Swanson also snagged the female lead of Diana Palmer to Billy Zane's "The Phantom" (1996), in the tepid adventure thriller based on the popular comic strip but was outshone by villainess Catherine Zeta-Jones.
In an attempt to dispel her "girl next door" image, Swanson starred as the devastatingly beautiful and seductive sociopath Francesca Wells in the ABC movie "Bad to the Bone" (1997). 1998 saw her play a gossipy Southern socialite in the feature "Meeting Daddy," and she also returned to series TV, joining the cast of CBS' "Early Edition" for the 1998-99 season as Kyle Chandler's love interest. She received some of her best feature exposure to date as Adam Sandler's girlfriend in the commercial blockbuster "Big Daddy" (1999). She was back as a series regular in CBS' fluffy midseason comedy "Grapevine" (2000), a reworking of a series that had run briefly in 1992. Swanson played Susan Crawford, a cruise-line executive who meddles in everyone's business before coming to realize that she's madly in love with a college pal (played by Steven Eckholdt).
Cast (Feature Film)
Cast (TV Mini-Series)
TV series debut, "Dreamfinders" (Disney)
Became emancipated from her parents at age 15
Made feature debut in the John Hughes-produced, "Pretty in Pink"; also acted in Hughes' "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
First leading role in Wes Craven's "Deadly Friend"
Had a recurring role as Jody Campbell in "Knots Landing" (CBS)
Played one of the teenage children in the disappointing adaptation of V.C. Andrews' novel, "Flowers in the Attic"
Appeared in the shortlived Burt Reynolds vehicle, "B.L. Stryker" (ABC)
First leading role in a series, "Nightingales" (NBC)
Cast opposite Charlie Sheen in the comedy spoof, "Hot Shots!"
Played the title role in the film, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"
Appeared as a calm, cool tennis star in "The Program"
Re-teamed with Sheen for "The Chase"
Portrayed a naive student discovering her sexuality in John Singleton's "Higher Learning"
Played plucky female lead Diana Palmer to Billy Zane's "The Phantom"
Starred as the devestatingly beautiful and seductive sociopath Francesca Wells in the ABC movie, "Bad to the Bone"
Played Erica Paget, a love interest of the main character for one season of the CBS series, "Early Edition"
Appeared as Adam Sandler's girlfriend Vanessa in the hit comedy "Big Daddy"
Co-starred as a match-making cruise-line executive in the CBS midseason comedy, "Grapevine"
Competed on the Fox reality series, "Skating with Celebrities"