Tuesday 12 December 2017

What happened next to the stars of Ally McBeal?

The comedy-drama set in a Boston law firm made some of its lead actors into household names.

By Beverley Rouse, Press Association

Ally McBeal was one of the biggest TV shows of the late 1990s and turned some of its lead actors into superstars.

:: Calista Flockhart – Ally McBeal

Calista Flockhart became a household name for her portrayal of Ally McBeal, the quirky, clumsy lawyer searching for a soulmate.

She went on to play Kitty Walker in family drama Brothers and Sisters for five years, with Rob Lowe as her TV husband.

Since 2015, Flockhart has played media magnate Cat Grant in the TV series Supergirl.

She is married to actor Harrison Ford.

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:: Gil Bellows – Billy Thomas

Gil Bellows played Ally’s first love Billy Thomas, who collapses and dies in court, shortly after being diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Bellows’s sudden departure in series three left viewers shocked but the Canadian actor said he had not been expecting to stay in the show that long.

Since Ally McBeal, The Shawshank Redemption actor has kept busy with roles in Smallville, Bones and Eyewitness.

He is married to Rya Kihlstedt, who appeared in Dexter and Nashville.

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Gil Bellows

:: Lucy Liu – Ling Woo

Ling Woo was Lucy Liu’s breakthrough role when the temporary character became a popular if vicious lead.

She was cast as Alex Munday, alongside Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz, in the 2000 blockbuster Charlie’s Angels and returned to the role for the 2003 sequel.

Liu also starred as O-Ren Ishii in Quentin Tarentino’s 2003 film Kill Bill.

Liu played herself – as a new client for PR Samantha Jones – in a 2001 episode of Sex And The City and guest starred as lawyer Grace Chin in Ugly Betty.

She currently plays Dr Joan Watson, alongside Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock Holmes, in the US series Elementary.

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Cameron Diaz, Drew Barrymore and Lucy Liu

:: Greg Germann – Richard Fish

Greg Germann played law firm boss Richard Fish who said he had become a lawyer to “make piles and piles of money”.

Known for words of wisdom he dubs “Fishisms” and his catchphrase “Bygones”, Fish was attracted to older women because he loves their wattle, “the loose skin on the neck”, saying: “There’s nothing more arousing for me, the way it just gently hangs there.”

Germann won a Screen Actors Guild award for Ally McBeal and directed some episodes.

He has played roles in NCIS, Law And Order: Special Victims Unit and recently appeared in the film Juvenile.

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Jane Krakowski

:: Jane Krakowski – Elaine Vassal

Jane Krakowski played Ally’s assistant Elaine Vassal who had a sideline in crazy inventions SUCH AS the face bra – to protect joggers from sagging cheeks.

The attention-seeking character gave the experienced stage musical actress plenty of opportunity to showcase her singing and dancing talent.

She won a Tony award for her show-stopping performance as Carla in the Broadway revival of Nine and an Olivier award for Miss Adelaide in Guys And Dolls in London’s Piccadilly Theatre.

She played Jenna Maroney in TV sitcom 30 Rock, and Jacqueline White in Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

Krakowski has also had numerous film roles including Betty Rubble in The Flintstones In Viva Rock Vegas and unhappily married Dorie opposite Jude Law in Alfie.

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Jane Krakowski with her Olivier award for Best Actress in a Musical

:: Peter MacNicol – John Cage

Peter MacNicol won an Emmy for playing eccentric attorney John “The Biscuit” Cage, a man who sings to his pet tree frog and has a remote control to flush the toilet.

MacNicol previously starred in Chicago Hope and went on to play Dr Sydney Field in Boston Legal, Tom Lennox in 24, Dr Robert Stark in Grey’s Anatomy and Jeff Kane in Veep.

He has voiced characters in American Dad!, Star Wars Rebels and Ben 10: Ultimate Alien.

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:: Portia de Rossi – Nelle Porter

Portia de Rossi joined Ally McBeal as “sub zero” Nelle Porter in the second series and stayed until the finale.

She went on to play Lindsay Bluth Funke in Arrested Development – a role she repeated when the show was revived in 2012 – and then joined Nip/Tuck as Olivia Lord, opposite love interest Joely Richardson.

She played Elizabeth North in Scandal but left during series six and the character was killed off in a golf club attack.

De Rossi, who is married to Ellen DeGeneres, is a keen equestrian who said riding helped her to survive an eating disorder which blighted her years on Ally McBeal.

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Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi

:: Courtney Thorne-Smith – Georgia Thomas

Courtney Thorne-Smith, who was was already well known for playing Alison Parker in Melrose Place, reportedly auditioned for the part of Ally but ended up as the woman who tempted Billy away.

She went on to play Cheryl in According To Jim for eight years before joining Two And A Half Men as Alan Harper’s girlfriend Lyndsey McElroy for 52 episodes.

Thorne-Smith wrote a 2007 novel, Outside In, about a famous actress whose husband leaves her for a co-star.

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Robert Downey Jr with director Guy Ritchie

:: Robert Downey Jr – Larry Paul

Robert Downey Jr joined in series four as Ally’s new love interest.

The Chaplin actor, who was struggling with drug addiction, had just left prison and was arrested before filming for the series was completed, forcing the script to be changed from a wedding to a break-up.

Downey Jr, who sang a duet of Every Breath You Take with Sting while on the show, was popular with viewers and won a Golden Globe for the role.

The actor’s problems cost him a stage role as Hamlet but he returned to acting in 2001, lip-synching in the Elton John video for I Want Love.

He went on to star in a 2003 movie The Singing Detective and had huge hits with Iron Man, Tropic Thunder and Sherlock Holmes.

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Robert Downey Jr with his Iron Man co-star Gwyneth Paltrow

:: Lisa Nicole Carson – Renee Raddick

Lisa Nicole Carson played Ally’s confident and straight-talking flatmate while also playing Carla Reece in ER.

She disappeared from the legal show in the fifth series amid reports of erratic behaviour, but returned for Ally’s finale farewell.

She took a break from acting and has since has spoken about her struggle with bipolar disorder.

In 2012 Carson returned to acting reprise the role of Renee for an episode of Harry’s Law and in 2017 she starred in The New Edition Story miniseries.

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Hayden Panettiere with her Heroes co-stars Jack Coleman, Milo Ventimigilia and Adrian Pasda

:: Hayden Panettiere – Maddie Harrington

Hayden Panettiere appeared halfway through series five as the daughter Ally did not know she had.

Created from a donated egg which Ally did not realise had been fertilised, 10-year-old Maddie gave Ally a reason to leave Boston for a new life in New York when the show was cancelled.

Panettiere went on to play a high school cheerleader with regenerative powers in Heroes.

She currently stars in the country music drama Nashville and is engaged to former world heavyweight boxer Wladimir Klitschko.

The couple have a young daughter and Panettiere has spoken about her experience of post-natal depression.

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Vonda Shepard

:: Vonda Shepard – herself

Vonda Shepard, who had been working as a musician since she was a teenager, released four albums during the Ally McBeal years.

She was also the show’s music producer and worked with Al Green, Gladys Knight, Sting, Robert Downey Jr, Jon Bon Jovi, Randy Newman, Chubby Checker and Barry Manilow.

She later played Martha in Randy Newman’s production of Faust and is currently on a tour which will see her return to the UK early next year.

Press Association

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