How Hallmark's Erika Christensen Landed Her First Kiss

You've seen actor Erika Christensen getting her on-screen romance groove on in an assortment of projects over the years. There was Madison's pool seduction in "Swimfan," Julia's wifely kisses in "Parenthood," her romantic leads in the Hallmark movies "My Boyfriends' Dogs" and "Anything for Love," a dalliance with an older man in "The Upside of Anger," and Angie's love history with the main man in "Will Trent." Whew!

All of those, however, came long after she landed her very on-screen first kiss, which just so happened to be her first kiss in her life, with fellow actor Erik von Detten. While the coupling couldn't be cuter — Erik and Erika — it was all in the name of showbiz and in front of a bunch of other people, including camera operators. The two shared a lip-lock strictly for script purposes.

Christensen revealed to Us Weekly that she puckered up to von Detten for the first time during rehearsal for a scene she had to perform with him on "Leave It to Beaver." She was 13, he was 14, and there was a lake involved. How romantic! Well, sorta.

She had her first kiss for Leave It to Beaver

When Erika Christensen thinks back to her first kiss, it's intertwined with another first: the first movie she ever appeared in. When she was 12 years old, she told her parents she wanted to pursue acting as a career. They gave their full support, but in private, they put a deadline on her entertainment career of six weeks — if she wasn't experiencing any success, they would pull back and reconsider. Luckily, the talented star booked three national commercials in that time, including her debut in an ad for McDonald's.

Less than a year later, Christensen got her first role in a movie, a big-screen version of the classic TV show "Leave It to Beaver," which was released in 1997. The star recalled to CNN, "My first studio film — 13 years old and a film lead! I was out of my mind excited." She played Karen, the main character's puppy-love interest, and along with that came a kissing scene.

Her young-love co-star was Erik von Detten, who had the role of Wally. It was a first for him, too — his first on-screen kiss. (He would later go on to steal Mia's first kiss when he was cast in "The Princess Diaries.") The two had to rehearse their scenes together, and that's when Christensen got her first pucker-up. Subsequent kisses were captured by the camera, and the memory of her first kiss is just a remote control click away. 

Christensen has no regrets about growing up on camera

"Leave It to Beaver" was just the beginning for Erika Christensen. She followed up her movie debut with appearances on a slew of popular TV dramas and sitcoms in the late '90s, including "The Practice," "Frasier," and "Third Rock From the Sun," as well as a permanent role on the short-lived series "Thanks." She switched from regular classes to home-schooling and on-set tutoring, spending her teenage years in front of a camera.

"I think I gained in other ways," she told BBC about not having a traditional high-school experience. "I have absolutely no regrets because I knew so strongly that this was what I wanted to be doing." When she was 17, she was cast as Michael Douglas' daughter Caroline in Steven Soderbergh's Oscar-winning movie "Traffic," a career turning point for the actor, who took home MTV and Young Hollywood awards for her performance. "My life would have been so different if I had only started acting ... when I was 18."

Her continued success in the entertainment industry proves the Hallmark star knew what she was doing at 12, even if it did mean sharing her first kiss with a camera crew.