Tragic Details About Michelle Trachtenberg's Life

Child stars have a tendency to endure tragedy from a young age given their exposure to the entertainment industry at such a vulnerable point in their lives. There have been many successful stars who got their start as children, like Jodie Foster or Neil Patrick Harris, but others seem to fall out of the public eye gradually, like Michelle Trachtenberg, who has faced more than her fair share of difficulty.

Born on October 11, 1985, Trachtenberg was just 3 years old when she began acting in commercials. The young actor later landed guest roles on "Clarissa Explains It All" and "All My Children," as well as a recurring spot on "The Adventures of Pete & Pete," before becoming better known to the world as "Harriet the Spy" in 1996. In an October 2021 interview with Entertainment Tonight, Trachtenberg reminisced about her time filming the movie, saying, "I turned 10 years old on the first day of principal photography of 'Harriet the Spy.' ... There was a lot required of me."

The cast of "Harriet the Spy" has changed dramatically since the movie premiered, including Trachtenberg, who went on to become known for her roles in "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," "EuroTrip," and "Gossip Girl." However, after a series of unfortunate events throughout Trachtenberg's three-decade-long career, including bullying, the death of a close friend, a handful of injuries, and her sudden return to headlines regarding her appearance, the actor has clearly been through a lot.

Michelle Trachtenberg was bullied as a kid

You would think that Michelle Trachtenberg had a dream childhood, given that she was a famous actor from a young age, but in February 2020, she clarified in an Instagram post that this was a misconception. Alongside a picture of herself as a child, the actor wrote, "Back in my day all the kids had to write a bull***t Valentine's Day card to everyone in the class. I never got one. ... The kids and staff all laughed and thought everyone else should get one, being an actress since I was 3, apparently I didn't need one."

She continued, "The kids were cruel. There is no need to harp on the past. But I still have scars from being thrown down stairs and slammed into lockers head first." Trachtenberg went on to dedicate her valentines to the three teachers in her life that had made school easier for her.

Sadly, this wasn't her only experience with school bullies, as she revealed in 2012 on "E! Investigates: Bullying" that more than 100 of her classmates had targeted her at her eighth grade graduation party. Trachtenberg claimed that when she came out of the bathroom, everyone from the party had gone outside and were waiting to make fun of her, allegedly all because she was a successful actor.

She didn't love her time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer

When Michelle Trachtenberg joined the cast of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" in Season 5, fans were quick to dislike her character Dawn Summers. Although the introduction of Buffy's sister may have initially excited some viewers of the show, her immaturity and whininess made Trachtenberg's character a source of annoyance for others throughout the three years she spent in the role.

Even the actor herself wasn't the biggest fan of working on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," as she explained to Entertainment Weekly in 2004. "I found TV to be rather stifling, especially 'Buffy.' Three years as one character — where they're not changing the character and your abilities aren't being tested or challenged — gets very repetitive," she said.

Trachtenberg later acknowledged the backlash she had faced from fans of the show in a 2017 interview with Entertainment Weekly. While she said she understood why viewers saw Dawn as annoying, she defended her character and the writers' decision to portray her this way. "I rarely get the, 'Oh she ruined the show.' I do get a lot of, 'Oh she was so whiny!' Hi, were you a teenager? Oh, you were docile, sitting in the corner, doe-eyed and happy to be there? No. There's a reason why teenagers have a stigma, and that is what Joss [Whedon, the show's creator] wrote," Trachtenberg explained.

Michelle Trachtenberg sustained injuries during 2005's Ice Princess

By the time Michelle Trachtenberg starred in the Disney movie "Ice Princess," she had already amassed an impressive 22 film and television credits, including roles in "Inspector Gadget," "EuroTrip," and "Mysterious Skin." She was officially an adult, but her girlish charm and impressive acting chops granted her the ability to portray a high school student and aspiring figure skater champion.

Preparing for her role in "Ice Princess" wasn't as simple as it may have seemed, though, because Trachtenberg underwent a rigorous training regimen. Speaking with Campus Circle in March 2005, the actor remarked, "It was grueling. I trained for about seven and a half, eight months, and while we weren't shooting, it was five hours a day and ballet every other day. ... I worked really, really hard and definitely have the injuries to prove it." She hadn't been an ice skater beforehand, but Trachtenberg was proud to say that she did several maneuvers her skating doubles couldn't, some of which made it into the final cut.

Such intense training and preparation for her role resulted in Trachtenberg sustaining several injuries. During a 2005 interview with, the actor said, "I tore a couple of ligaments, dislocated [my] knee ... did a little bit of here and there. It sounds really bad, but those are all things that happen to athletes. I mean, I'm very lucky because I didn't get any stress fractures, which is one of the hugest things."

Her CW show was never picked up

Michelle Trachtenberg has tragically missed several important opportunities, including nearly being cast as Bella in "Twilight" and her show with The CW never getting picked up, either of which could have totally transformed her career. According to a 2010 Vulture article, Stephanie Savage and Josh Schwartz, two producers originally tied to "Gossip Girl," had apparently been signed on to work on a series with Trachtenberg, in which she would have played a criminology student with a troubled past. Unfortunately, while we would have loved to see Trachtenberg go from playing the undeniably evil Georgina Sparks to this perhaps equally dark character, the show's pilot (like countless other pilots) simply wasn't picked up in the end.

Luckily, 2010 was still a successful year for the actor because she landed a role in the movie "Cop Out," continued her work on the show "Mercy," and lent her voice to a few "DC Showcase" shorts. Trachtenberg also continued her television work the following year, with appearances on "Love Bites" and "Weeds."

She also continued her work on "Gossip Girl" despite the disappointment she probably felt about not getting her own show. In speaking with E! News in 2010, the actor spoke about her character's return to the show after a short hiatus, saying, "What we love about Georgina is that she can't help but be evil, even when she pretends to be good."

Michelle Trachtenberg's writing projects haven't gone far

While the "17 Again" star holds a couple of producing credits and more than 60 acting credits, she has yet to land a writing credit thus far. Not every actor strives to be known for more than the roles they portray, but in November 2016, Michelle Trachtenberg told Entertainment Weekly about other projects she had in the works.

"I'm fully WGA [Writers Guild of America] and a writer and have sold several projects. I feel like [I'm living] a Hollywood version of Harriet's life," she said, referring to her character Harriet the Spy. Trachtenberg added that her first project sold when she was just 23 years old and she had since written a period piece based on a true story and a television pilot about an aspiring writer. In concluding her interview, she discussed how one of her early roles inspired her to embark on a writing career. "My love of writing came from reading and being Harriet the Spy. Writing changes people's worlds," she explained.

Despite Trachtenberg's early success on-screen, it's tragic that what seems to be her second passion, writing, hasn't taken off for her. However, it seems that after 2015, her acting career took a bit of a hit as well because in 2016, she only appeared in one made-for-TV movie, "Sister Cities," and didn't have any projects released throughout 2017. Perhaps someday soon we'll see one of Trachtenberg's screenplays get transformed into a television show or film.

Her friend Nick Ackerman died in 2017

As Michelle Trachtenberg's fame dipped slightly during her 2017 hiatus from Hollywood projects, she also was plunged into grief as one of her close friends died. Nick Ackerman had been the bassist of the New York City-based alternative-rock band, The Virgins, from 2006 until 2013, when they broke up. Four years later, in March 2017, news broke that Ackerman had died, leading friends to post tributes mourning the loss of the musician, including Trachtenberg.

A few days after the bass player's death, the actor shared a photo of the two of them on Instagram, alongside a caption that read, "[Ackerman] was a unique soul, a true friend and someone who was always there for me. He inspired the path my life took in so many ways. Nicky, I spoke to you a few weeks ago, we had plans to get together and laugh about the silly things in our lives. I will forever miss this opportunity to say to you I love you, one more time." While few details were made public about Ackerman's cause of death or his relationship to Trachtenberg, there's no denying that the "Ice Princess" star was deeply impacted by the loss of her friend.

Michelle Trachtenberg had to walk with a cane after breaking her ankle in 2019

It's no secret that Michelle Trachtenberg may err on the side of clumsy at times given that the actor has sustained several injuries over the years. Following her intense training for "Ice Princess" in 2005, which resulted in torn ligaments and a dislocation, the "Gossip Girl" star shared on Twitter (now X) in 2011: "Cut my arm open on a glass vase, the word clutz doesn't even begin to cut it. #PunIntended." Trachtenberg sported a splint for a while after her hospital visit.

In 2019, the actor was photographed wearing a boot on her left foot and using a cane to get around. While Trachtenberg didn't reveal the cause of her injury this time, she did share an Instagram post captioned, "Dear 2019. My broken ankle can still kick your ass out the door. Cuz in 2020, I'm going to be 100% that b****." (Of course, nobody knew then that the pandemic was right around the corner, leading some fans to comment about how her post had "aged like milk.")

Another couple of years passed before Trachtenberg shared another Instagram post, this time of her incredibly bruised ankle and foot that may have been from her previous 2019 injury, with a caption that read, "Nope this is not special effect makeup. When you fracture/break your ankle this bad. And foot. And pinky toe. And you still go to work. THAT is beast mode. How bout that swelling!"

She alluded to unpleasant experiences with Joss Whedon

With the birth of the #MeToo movement, several actors felt empowered and supported enough to share the inappropriate behavior higher-ups subjected them to while on set. Among those publicly outed was Joss Whedon, the creator and producer behind "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," who reportedly subjected his cast and crew to a toxic environment while filming. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played the titular character, spoke out on Instagram in February 2021, sharing that she no longer wished to be associated with the show's creator and that she "stand[s] with all survivors of abuse."

That same day, Michelle Trachtenberg re-shared Gellar's statement in her own Instagram post and added a caption that detailed her own experience with Whedon. "This must. Be known. As a teenager. With his not appropriate behavior....very. Not. Appropriate. So now. People know. What Joss. Did. The last. Comment I will make on this. Was. There was a rule. Saying. He's not allowed in a room alone with Michelle again," Trachtenberg's cryptic post read. While she has yet to address the accusations against Whedon publicly or make any more of her own, it would appear that she, along with many of the women on the set of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," endured unpleasant experiences while filming.

Michelle Trachtenberg has had fewer roles over the years

Although Michelle Trachtenberg has starred in fan favorite guilty pleasure movies like "EuroTrip," "Ice Princess," and "17 Again," many of her other projects haven't gotten the best critical reception. For example, 2010's "Cop Out," which she worked on with Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan got just an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while 2011's "Take Me Home Tonight" has a rating of 28%. Perhaps Trachtenberg's choice of scripts has had an impact on her ability to continue landing the amount of work she once did considering the actor hasn't had a recurring role on a scripted series since 2018.

Trachtenberg does, however, know what characters have worked for her in the past and took her return to "Gossip Girl" as Georgina Sparks into her own hands for the HBO Max reboot. In a December 2022 interview with Deadline, the show's creator Joshua Safran, explained, "I definitely knew that I wanted Georgina back from pretty much the day after I pitched the show. Michelle actually started DMing about it during the Season 1 writers room. She was like, 'I want to come back.' And I was like, 'I really want you to as well but I actually don't think Season 1 is the right place,' because I wanted everybody to be really set up so that she could come in and sort of destroy them."

Fans are concerned about her appearance today

It had been a decade between when "Gossip Girl" ended and the time the actor reprised her role in the reboot, leaving fans to wonder what had happened to Michelle Trachtenberg. Her return as Georgina Sparks may have had some noting that she had aged a little (it had been 10 years, after all, and Trachtenberg was in her late 30s now), but it wasn't until the actor began posting selfies to Instagram in late 2023 that fans became concerned about her appearance.

Some comments on the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" star's social media noted how thin she looked, while others remarked, "Michelle u look sick. R u ok?" and, "Michelle, have you gone to a doctor? It looks like you have jaundice?" In response to the overwhelming criticism of her looks, Trachtenberg fired back to one commenter, "Explain to me how I look sick. Did you lose a calendar and not realize I'm not 14. I'm 38. How sad for you to leave such a comment."

In mid-January of 2024, Trachtenberg posted another smiling selfie on Instagram, alongside the caption, "Fun fact. This is my face. Not malnutrition no problems. Why do you have you hate? Get a calendar." While some of her followers flooded her posts with support, others have continued to analyze and critique her appearance based on her photos, despite Trachtenberg's insistence that she hasn't had plastic surgery, nor is she unwell.