Calista Flockhart says sudden Ally McBeal fame affected her mental health

Calista Flockhart has spoken about her rapid rise to fame as the star of Ally McBeal, stating that paparazzi attention led to her reluctance to leave the house.

The actor was thrust into the spotlight as the titular character in the Nineties comedy-drama series, which followed a Boston-based lawyer navigating work and a tumultuous romantic and personal life.

Running for five seasons between 1997 and 2002, Ally McBeal was an early critical hit and scooped two Golden Globes and an Emmy in the comedy series categories.

Speaking on a recent episode of The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast, Flockhart, 59, revealed that as much as took the positive reception to the show as a triumph, the pressure on her personal life was an unfortunate by-product.

“I realised that this was really cool, that people were watching it and talking about it, and then people started debating about it. I mean, it was amazing,” she said of the show’s early broadcasts. “That’s the goal, right?”

The show’s success, however, also gave rise to an increase in public scrutiny surrounding her personal life, causing Flockhart to feel as though she was losing a sense of privacy.

“At the risk of sounding like I’m whining, the paparazzi truly did follow me everywhere I went,” the actor said. “Truthfully, I don’t think I’ve ever really adjusted to the paparazzi.”

Calista Flockhart (Getty Images for SiriusXM)
Calista Flockhart (Getty Images for SiriusXM)

After adopting a son, Liam, in 2001, Flockhart began a relationship with Hollywood actor Harrison Ford in 2002 and they married in 2010. As paparazzi attention continued to grow, Flockhart said that she resolved to spend more time inside her home to protect her mental health.

“I decided the only thing that I could do was stay inside, so I stopped leaving my apartment,” Flockhart said.

“I stopped leaving my house. I stopped going out, and I was isolated,” she continued. “I think that... I don’t want to go so far as saying that I was depressed, but it was hard. It was challenging.”

Before landing the TV show role, Flockhart had been performing in a play in New York. Elsewhere in the podcast, released on Monday (17 June), the Feud: Capote vs The Swans star pondered as to where her career might have gone if she hadn’t won the role of Ally.

“I probably would’ve stayed in New York doing a lot of theatre, and hopefully I would’ve started a family, and hopefully I would’ve eventually found a TV show or found a movie or something,” she said. “I mean, I think I would’ve kept acting.”