Calista Flockhart was born (officially) on November 11, 1964, although the year has been very debated. Calista herself doesn't disclose her age, but accurate resources pretty much stick to 1964 as her birth year. Her birthplace is pretty much agreed on: Freeport, Illinois... UNLESS it's somewhere in Iowa... Or even Kentucky... Pick any place, any year, whatever... the important parts are still to come...
She grew up in a family of 4 (father Ronald - executive with Kraft Foods; mother Kay - schoolteacher; brother Gary and Calista herself).Because of Ron's job, the family moved all around the country: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, etc. "Whenever you move, I think you lose your history," said Calista later in US. As a child, she wanted to lose one very particular thing: her name. She tried being anything: Carol, Carissa, anything but Calista. She was named after her grandmother, who's name in Greek meant "most beautiful". Despite this seemingly ideal meaning of a name for a girl, she got teased and even bashed at school about her name. Later, David Kelley would refer jokingly to her as "The Woman With The Funny Name"... (This remark, by the way, offended Calista's parents, but later she explained the deal to them...)
Finally her family settled down in New Jersey, and Calista spent her high school years at Shawnee High, where she was a passionate cheerleader, a member of the student council and a flute-player in the school band, and later ended up going to college at Medford. Her final step was Rutgers University, where she finally decided what career to pursue in the future. This decision was partially motivated by another incident at high school: during a small play production, she was told by her drama director "YOU CAN'T ACT". They said she "didn't have as much outgoing talent as her fellow young actors", or something like that. That remark stuck with her for years, until she finally decided to prove to everyone that she CAN, indeed, act. She went to NY after Rutgers, and saw her resume grow enormously: first came a job at a health club, later bits and pieces on daytime soaps, and finally some real stage work, at which point she was beginning to build a rep as a stage actress.
In 1992 came her first big piece of work: the lead in HBO's series "Lifestories: Families in Crisis". She played the title role in the episode "The Secret Life Of Mary-Margaret: Portrait of a Bulimic". Although Flockhart wasn't too stunned about her TV work, critics seemes to like it. "Los Angeles Times" called it a "stunning performance", and several NY-based reviewers gave positive remarks, too. Thus the big career began...
....Not really. Although TV exposure had its own set of positives, it also had negatives... Which meant that without a long-term role on TV or the lead in a huge box-office success, she hadn't been really catapulted into stardom. She stayed in NY, grabbing the usual: bits in small movies, large but no-one-reall-cared roles on stage. A big role came along just when she needed it: in 1994 she starred as Laura Wingfield in Tennessee Williams's "The Glass Menagerie".This play got fabulous reviews from all over, and Calista was celebrated to the fullest extent in all of them. "Calista Flockhart gave a beautifully posed and tender performance as Laura, winning your heart and breaking it, too...", wrote "Time". "Variety" called Calista's performance extraordinarily risky and intensely felt", and another critic called her Laura "near perfect, with a pathological shyness so organic that it is painful to watch...". All of this, together with an Actor's Equity award, got Calista on the right track... After yet another role (off-Broadway, though), this time in "The Loop" (also 1994), Calista was finally noticed by someone big: director Mike Nichols. He took her abroad his cast for "The Birdcage", his upcoming comedy, which starred faces like Robin Williams and Nathan Lane. Even though this was a huge turn for her, bigger and broader things were still out there...
Later came her first substantial film role in "Telling Lies in America", which was released after "Ally"'s premiere but was produced long before. Calista was somehow ignored in it, and film didn't seem to hold much of an interest for her... Neither did TV... YET...
In February 1997, Calista was cast as Natalia Ivanovna in a remake of Chekhov's "Three Sisters". While the play sort of slumped in the reviews, Flockhart herself was finally noticed. "...Smashing!" was one of the words NY Times journalist Ben Bradley described her performance... THAT was finally something noticeable, even for people who had never seen her in action before.
One of those "people" was David Kelley. About the time he finally had the pilot script close to finished, he heard about a young theater actress, who, it seemed, was ideal for the part(GUESS WHO?...). Here's the natch: she wouldn't do TV... Well, actually, in Kelley's world, words like "won't", "wouldn't" and "can't" don't exist. He just has a way of making things happen, no matter what the circumstances. So The Lady With The Name (as she was known around the "Ally" offices) got another call from Ren-Mar after herds of other would-be Allys failed to match David's criteria. At first, Calista was VERY skeptical about this whole TV thingamajiggie. UNTIL she read the script... In her own words, it "touched" her. She fell in love with the part of Ally right away, and decided that this just might be worth a trip to L.A. It was...
She was in a matinee performance the day of the audition, but she flew afterwards anyway... She was dazed, tired and not at all feeling her best when she walked into the audition room of Ren-Mar, looking in the words of Kelley "frazzled and yet exuded with strenght and confidence"... In other words, just what he wanted his Ally to be....
Calista thought the audition went badly, but obviously the producers didn't share that point of view. Outside the studio doors, she was approached by one of the producers, who told her she had gotten the part. Her first words were "Oh great... Now I have to move...". Of course, that attitude didn't stay with her for long....
With Webster, a mixed terrier she dog-sat for one weekend and eventually ended up adopting, she settled in L.A, where she now lives.
Calista Flockhart - Selected Credits:
"Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At Her" (2000)
"Like a Hole In The Head" (2000)-"Jill"
"A Midsummer Night's Dream" (1999)-"Helena"
"Jane Doe" (1996; shelved until 1999)-"Jane"
"Telling Lies in America" (1997)-"Diney Majeski"
"Milk and Money" (1997)-"Christine"
"The Birdcage" (1996)-"Barbara Keeley"
"Naked In New York" (1994)-?
"Quiz Show" (1994)-"Barnard Girl"
"Getting In" (1994)-"Amanda Morel"
"Clear Cut" (1994)-?
"Ally" (1999-?)-"Ally McBeal"
"Ally McBeal" (1997-?)-"Ally McBeal" (as if we didn't already know!lol:))
"The Practice" (ABC; guest star 4/27/98)-"Ally McBeal"
"Lifestories: Families in Crisis"-(HBO; guest star; 1992)-"Mary-Margaret"
"Darrow" (PBS, 1991, TV movie)-"Lillian Anderson"
(chronologically backwards, forgive me)
?-"Death Takes A Holiday"
?-"All For One"
1994-"The Glass Menagerie" (Laura Wingfield)
1995-"Romeo and Juliet" (duh Juliet)
1997-"Three Sisters" (Natalia Ivanovna)
1998(?)-"The Vagina Monologues" (dunno; it was just a reading part for famous actresses)
See bios: Calista Flockhart -- Gil Bellows -- Courtney Thorne-Smith -- Peter MacNicol -- Portia de Rossi -- Lucy Liu -- Greg Germann -- Lisa Nicole Carson -- Jane Krakowski -- Vonda Shepard