Ally McBeal: Where are they now?

We catch up with some of the alumni from the classic legal comedy-drama

It was the late 90s TV phenomenon that brought us a creepy dancing baby, plenty of angst in unisex toilets and an awful lot of falling over. Yes, legal comedy-drama Ally McBeal and its talented cast once held the attention of millions – but what’s happened to them since? And could anything match up to their time in the law offices of Cage and Fish?


Name: Calista Flockhart

Character: Chaotic series lead Ally McBeal

High point post-show: As a series regular in American comedy-drama Brothers and Sisters.

Low point: Flockhart was rumoured to have been offered Teri Hatcher’s role in the hugely successful Desperate Housewives series, but passed on the part.

Name: Jane Krakowski

Character: Gossipy secretary Elaine Vassal

High point post-show: Krakowski has had more mainstream TV success as actress/singer Jenna Maroney on 30 Rock, and has picked up Olivier and Tony awards for her work on stage.

Low point: Playing Betty Rubble in cartoon adaptation The Flintstones in Viva Rock Vegas, a flop with the critics and box office alike.

Name: Portia De Rossi

Character: Icy lawyer Nelle Porter

High point post-show: Portia’s turn as the cold, insecure Nelle stood her in good stead for her most famous role – as the self-centred yet vulnerable Lindsey Bluth-Funke in cult comedy Arrested Development.

Low point: The unceremonious cancelling of Arrested Development in 2006 (although it was recently revived for a fourth series by online streaming service Netflix).

Name: Lucy Liu

Character: Villainous seductress Ling Woo

High point post-show: As ruthless crimelord/assassin O-Ren Ishii in Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill, and playing a female Watson opposite Jonny Lee Miller’s Sherlock in CBS hit Elementary. 

Low point: Film sequel Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle underperformed and signalled the death knell for the once-promising franchise.

Name: Robert Downey Jr.

Character: Ally’s beau Larry Paul

High point post-show: These days, when he’s not saving the world as superhero Iron Man, RDJ can be found on the streets of Victorian London in the Sherlock Holmes film series.

Low point: The actor was actually written out of Ally McBeal following his battle with drug addiction. He has since got clean. 

Name: James Marsden

Character: The occasionally musical lawyer Glenn Foy

High point post-show: Downey Jr. isn’t the only superhero alumnus of Ally McBeal, as Marsden went on to play mutant leader and sunglasses aficionado Cyclops in the X-Men films.

Low point: Being killed off-screen in the third X-Men film when his character’s girlfriend apparently dissolved his face.

Name: Hayden Panettiere

Character: Ally’s surprise daughter Maddie Harrington

High point post-show: Sticking to her TV roots, Panettiere is known to millions worldwide for her portrayals of indestructible cheerleader Claire in Heroes, and arrogant country-and-western singer Juliette in Nashville.


Low point: Straight-to-video cheerleading sequel Bring It On: All or Nothing could not match up to the success of the original cult classic (which she wasn’t a part of).