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Calista Flockhart reflects on ‘painful’ anorexia rumors that she thought were going to ‘ruin’ her career

The “Feud: Capote vs. the Swans” actor discussed rumors surrounding her weight while she starred on “Ally McBeal” in the late ‘90s.
Calista Flockhart at the premiere of "Feud: Capote vs. The Swans" held at MOMA on January 23, 2024 in New York City.
Calista Flockhart at the premiere of "Feud: Capote vs. The Swans" held at MOMA on January 23, 2024 in New York City.John Nacion / Variety via Getty Images
/ Source: TODAY

Calista Flockhart is opening up about the “painful” rumors surrounding her weight.

In a wide-ranging profile for the New York Times, the “Feud: Capote vs. the Swans” actor reflected on the hurtful chatter about whether she had anorexia while starring in the hit ‘90s sitcom “Ally McBeal.”

“It wasn’t the case, and there was nothing I could do to convince anybody or get out of it," she said. "If I had worn a big padded bra, they probably would never have been able to target me in that way. I look back at pictures, and I’m the same then as I am now, and nobody says a word now.”

ALLY McBEAL, Vonda Shepard, Courtney Thorne-Smith, Gil Belows, Jane Krakowski, Calista Flockhart, Lisa Nicole Carson, Greg Germann, Portia de Rossi, Peter MacNicol, Lucy Liu, (Season 3), 1997-2002. TM and Copyright © 20th Century Fox Film Corp. All right
The cast of "Ally McBeal," including Calista Flockhart posing in the front.Everett Collection

Flockheart said she felt like she was “an easy target.”

“It was painful, it was complicated," she continued. "I loved working on ‘Ally McBeal,’ and it just made it sour. I was very sleep-deprived and I was depressed about it. I did think that it was going to ruin my career. I didn’t think anybody would ever hire me again, because they would just assume I had anorexia, and that would be the end of that.”

According to the Mayo Clinic, anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder often characterized by an “abnormally low body weight, an intense fear of gaining weight and a distorted perception of weight.”

Those with the disorder often restrict the amount of food they eat by controlling their calorie intake. This can be through “vomiting after eating or by misusing laxatives, diet aids, diuretics or enemas,” as per the Mayo Clinic.

Flockhart added that she experienced days where she felt “really hurt and embarrassed and infuriated,” noting that she did her best to push through the difficulties.

“I was lucky that I had to work. I just put my head down. I always felt like, ‘Calista, you’re a good person, you’re not mean to anybody,’ and I’m confident in that,” she recalled.

In regards to her trim physique, the 59-year-old said she’s never had to “watch her weight,” referencing her 4-foot-11 mother, who “weighed 93 pounds when she was married.”

“Talk about a little tiny elf,” she said, referring to her mom. “I just have small bones, and I just am lucky.”

Flockhart told the publication that she doesn't think the kind of discussions around her weight and eating habits would occur in today's social climate.

“They call it body-shaming now,” she said. “I haven’t thought about it in a long time, but it’s really not OK to accuse someone of having a disease that a lot of people struggle with.”

Despite the struggles Flockhart experienced off-camera during the show, she revealed last week that she would be “game” for a reprise of “Ally McBeal.”

“I think there are a few people talking about a reboot, but I don’t know much about it,” Flockhart told “Entertainment Tonight.”

She added, “I would be game. Sure, I’m always game.”

The cast of "Ally McBeal," which ran for five seasons and focused on her as an eccentric young lawyer, reunited this year at the Emmy Awards. Rumors of a sequel to the series aren't new though with Deadline reporting that one was in the works in 2022.

Now, Flockhart is taking on a very different — and darker — role as New York socialite and sister of Jackie Kennedy, Lee Radziwill, in the new FX series “Feud: Capote vs. the Swans,” which premieres Jan. 31.