Originally a child actress, Swanson got her start in TV commercials before graduating to TV guest spots and starring roles on the big screen. In the late '80s and early '90s she played a recently resurrected teen in Deadly Friend, a spoiled brat in The Chase, and a mannequin-come-to-life in Mannequin 2: On the Move. But her best-known role was the part of original undead-killing cheerleader Buffy in the film Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which became a cult classic and later spawned the successful television series starring Sarah Michelle Gellar. By the late '90s, Swanson was all grown up and alternating between TV and film, often portraying the leading guy's good-looking gal in fare like Early Edition and Big Daddy. In 2006 she became a tabloid target after falling for her Skating With the Stars partner Lloyd Eisler, who was not yet divorced from his first wife. Swanson and Eisler married in 2009 and welcomed son Magnus in 2007.
- Permanently left school during the 8th grade to concentrate on acting; her parents tutored her at home.
- Auditioned to play Pee-wee's love interest in Big Top Pee-wee (1988), but it was decided that she was too young. She later worked with Paul Reubens in Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
- Has been in three movies with Charlie Sheen: Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Hot Shots! and The Chase.
- Posed in the November 2002 issue of Playboy.
- Met husband Lloyd Eisler (an Olympic medalist in figure skating) when the two were paired together on the Fox reality show Skating With Celebrities in 2006.
- Magnus Hart Swanson Eisler — Son
- Robert Swanson — Father
- Lloyd Eisler — Husband
- Rosemary Swanson — Mother