Calista Flockhart was born in Freeport, Illinois, the daughter of Kay, a teacher of English, and Ronald Flockhart, an executive for Kraft Foods. Her parents are retired and live in Morristown, Tennessee. She has one older brother, Gary. Her mother, Kay Calista, reversed her own first and middle names in naming her Calista Kay. Calista also had a great-grandmother named “Calista”.
Because her father’s job required the family to move often, Flockhart and her brother grew up in several places including Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Norwich, New York. As a child, she wrote a play called Toyland in which she performed to a small audience at a dinner party.
Calista Flockhart attended Shawnee High School in Medford Township, New Jersey. Following her graduation in 1983, Flockhart attended the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. While there, she attended a specialized and competitive class, lasting from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM. In her sophomore year at Rutgers, Flockhart met aspiring actress Jane Krakowski, the best friend of her roommate. Later they both would work together on Ally McBeal.
People began recognizing Calista Flockhart’s acting ability when William Esper (Mason Gross’ theatre director and Flockhart’s acting teacher) made an exception to policy by allowing Flockhart to perform on the main stage. Though this venue usually is reserved for juniors and seniors, Harold Scott insisted that Flockhart perform there in his production of William Inge’s Picnic. Flockhart graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre in 1988, as one of only a few students who successfully completed the course. Rutgers inducted her into the Hall of Distinguished Alumni on May 3, 2003.
After receiving her degree, Calista Flockhart moved to New York City in 1989, where she remained until 1997, living with three other women in a two-bedroom apartment and working as a waitress and aerobics instructor, while she simultaneously sought auditions.
In spring 1989, Calista Flockhart made her first television appearance in a minor role in an episode of Guiding Light as a babysitter. She made her professional debut on the New York stage, appearing in Beside Herself alongside Melissa Joan Hart, at the Circle Repertory Theatre. Two years later, Flockhart appeared in the television movie Darrow. Though she later appeared in films Naked in New York (1993) and Getting In (1994), her first substantial speaking part in a film was in Quiz Show, directed by Robert Redford.
Calista debuted on Broadway in 1994, as Laura in The Glass Menagerie. Actress Julie Harris felt Flockhart should be hired without further auditions, claiming that she seemed ideal for the part. Flockhart received a Clarence Derwent Award for her performance. In 1995, Flockhart became acquainted with actors such as Dianne Wiest and Faye Dunaway when she appeared in the movie Drunks. Later that year, Flockhart starred in Jane Doe as a drug addict. In 1996, Flockhart appeared as the daughter of Dianne Wiest and Gene Hackman’s characters in The Birdcage. Throughout that year, she continued to work on Broadway, playing the role of Natasha in Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters.
In 1997 Flockhart was requested to audition for the starring role in David E. Kelley’s Fox television series, Ally McBeal. Kelley, having heard of Flockhart, wanted her to audition for the contract part. Though Flockhart at first hesitated due to the necessary commitment to the show in a negotiable contract, she was swayed by the script and traveled to Los Angeles to audition for the part, which she won. She earned a Golden Globe Award for the role in 1998. Flockhart also appeared on the June 29, 1998, cover of Time magazine, placed as the newest iteration in the evolution of feminism, relating to the ongoing debate about the role depicted by her character.
Throughout her professional career, Calista Flockhart has maintained her naturally lean figure. However, many have commented that Flockhart had become dangerously thin, particularly when the actress made red carpet appearances in clothing that revealed a somewhat emaciated physique. She had maintained throughout the show’s run that she was never diagnosed with either anorexia or bulimia, nor was she a user of illegal drugs. She did remark, however, that while starring in the show she refrained from eating sweets, retaining her slimness with intense workouts and running. In 2006, she admitted that she had a problem at the time, and was “exercising too much” and “eating too little”.
Calista Flockhart at the Venise Mostra (2005) for the Fragile premiere:
Calista Flockhart played the role of Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a 1999 film version of Shakespeare’s play. In 2000, she appeared in Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her and Bash: Latter-Day Plays, later accompanying Eve Ensler to Kenya in order to protest violence against women, particularly female genital mutilation. Calista Flockhart also starred in the Off-Broadway production of Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues.
In 2004, Calista Flockhart appeared as Matthew Broderick‘s deranged girlfriend in The Last Shot. In the same year, Flockhart travelled to Spain for the filming of Fragile, which premiered in September 2005 at the Venice Film Festival.
She was offered the role of Susan Mayer on Desperate Housewives, but declined. The role went to Teri Hatcher. Flockhart’s last appearance on television was as Kitty Walker, opposite Sally Field, Rachel Griffiths and Matthew Rhys, in the ABC prime time series Brothers & Sisters, which premiered in September 2006 in the time slot after Desperate Housewives. The show was cancelled in May 2011 after running for five years. Flockhart’s character was significant throughout the series’ first four years, but her appearances were reduced for the 2010–2011 season, coinciding with the departure of TV husband Rob Lowe.
Peace over Violence (LACAAW):
On January 11, 2001, Calista Flockhart adopted Liam (born January 1, 2001) in San Diego.
In March 2009 it was reported that Calista became engaged to Harrison Ford on Valentine’s Day, after more than seven years together. On June 15, 2010, they were married in Santa Fe, New Mexico.