Everyone has a different Michelle Trachtenberg character that springs to mind when hearing the actress’s name, whether it be her title role in Harriet the Spy, Vampire Slaying sister Dawn, or Ice Princess Casey. Whatever you’ve seen her in though, she’s always given it all in the performance and showed off massive talent in everything from comedy to drama, so why has she been mostly absent lately?
Born the second daughter to a family of immigrants in October of 1985 in New York City, Michelle went into acting for the time she could talk, appearing in commercials at the age of three. She would star in hundreds, for anything from fabric softener to dog food until hitting her first major television role at the age of six with a small part on Law and Order in 1991.
Spying Early Roles
From there Michelle Trachtenberg went on an express ride to fame, landing a multi-episode arc on the soap All My Children before becoming Nickelodeon’s go-to girl of the early 90s. She would show up across the network in kid-oriented comedies Clarissa Explains It All and The Adventures of Pete and Pete before landing her first role as a lead in Harriet the Spy, a Nickelodeon movie based on the best-selling children’s book.
It would see minor success thanks to some added star power from Rosie O’Donnell around her career height, and Michelle would earn even more praise for her portrayal of the lead, a smart yet unsure girl who has to use her wits to solve a mystery. It wouldn’t cast her into superstardom yet, but it was a start and got her more roles across the network and later the lead role of Penny alongside Matthew Broderick for Disney’s Inspector Gadget film.
She escaped any blame over the end product of the film, turning in a fine performance despite the terrible conditions on set (the terrible condition being Andy Dick’s presence). She would, unfortunately, also appear in Richie Rich’s Christmas Wish alongside Gene Levy and David Gallagher, now better known for his role as Riku in the Kingdom Hearts games.
Buffy The Vampire Slayer
The winds of change were blowing, and Michelle had made a good friend in fellow star Sarah Michelle Gellar, who would recommend her for the role of a lifetime on a wildly popular show at the time. Michelle, already a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, immediately accepted upon being offered the role of Dawn after the producers considered her good friend’s suggestion.
Michelle Trachtenberg would debut as Dawn Summers in the season five premiere Buffy vs. Dracula, being credited as a guest star before becoming a main cast member for the remainder of the show’s run, ending after seven seasons. Michelle pulled off striking performances in series-defining episodes like The Body and The Gift in her first season.
Michelle would finish with Buffy in 2003 along with the other cast, leaving her open to whatever the world had in store next. Just so happens she would go on to star in the incredibly risque early-2000s time capsule that was Eurotrip.
The film would make bank at the box office, and even give rise to a cultural phenomenon with a cameo they had one shot with, and took advantage of to the fullest. Michelle would play Jenny, just one of the friend group trying to get their pal Scotty to Germany after he finds out his girlfriend Fiona cheated on him, through song. The critical reception was mixed, but it remains a funny road comedy and gave audiences Goldfinger’s cover of 99 Red Balloons, so it gets a pass.
In the meantime, she would take a spontaneously recurring guest spot on the drama Six Feet Under while also taking another lead film role for Disney, this time in the teen drama Ice Princess where she would get to showcase her skills as a dancer and skater. The remainder of the first decade of the 2000s kept her busy, leading to a flurry of guest roles in shows like House and Law and Order: Criminal Intent before landing another lead role in horror remake Black Christmas, which would be a bomb both critically and at the box office.
Michelle Trachtenberg kept moving, taking on a small recurring role in Weeds and eventually landing a more steady gig in the CW hit Gossip Girl, which she would continue to play through the series end and even reprise for the recent revival in 2022.
What is Michelle Trachtenberg Doing Now?
Not necessarily a step back so much as a lighter workload, Michelle took small parts throughout the 2010s, focusing on guest roles through various shows and small indie films through the early half of the decade with parts in Criminal Minds and The Scribbler, before moving more towards voice acting at the end of the decade, recording for her former Buffy castmate and friend Seth Green’s Robot Chicken.
Michelle keeps most details of her personal life a secret but still likes to engage with fans regularly whether it be through just uploading selfies on her Insta or discussing the true crime docuseries she recently began hosting in 2021, Meet, Marry, Murder on Tubi. While she’s been linked romantically to many stars in the past from Pete Wentz and Josh Groban to now dating talent agent Jay Cohen.
Though she’s not very clear on if she’s stepped back from acting completely or not, it would be a shame to not have Michelle on television or the big screen again. Until she does, fingers crossed that she makes a big comeback outside of her Gossip Girl appearance.