Calista Flockhart shares her support for her former Ally McBeal costar Lisa Nicole Carson, who opened up about her bipolar diagnosis to PEOPLE

By Liz McNeil
Updated December 22, 2015 07:55 AM
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Amanda Marsalis

They were a memorable duo on one of the hottest TV shows of the late ’90s: Calista Flockhart as the winsome and lovesick lawyer Ally McBeal and Lisa Nicole Carson, who played her curvy and confident roommate and sidekick, D.A. Renee Raddick.

Now, more than a decade after the show ended, Flockhart is speaking out in support of Carson’s decision to open up about her bipolar disorder.

“I think she is brave for telling her story but then again I always thought she was brave about everything,” Flockhart tells PEOPLE. “I love her truly, madly and deeply.”

Flockhart also raves about her costar’s talent. “Lisa Nicole is so gifted and beautiful; such an extraordinary talent. Her uniqueness gave a vitality to every scene.”

Of their quirky chemistry, she adds, “She was always dog-loyal and she made me laugh ’til I thought I would explode. I cherish her friendship.”

Carson, 46, who first shared her story in Essence in June, talks about her bipolar diagnosis in depth for the first time in this week’s PEOPLE.

Flockhart is not the only Ally McBeal costar to speak out in support of Carson. Peter MacNicol, who played eccentric lawyer John Cage on the show, tells PEOPLE, “Lisa was a rare performer: a triple threat, a highly gifted singer, actress, and I would add comedienne. I worked with her not only as a fellow performer but directed Lisa as well in several episodes. I mean I pointed the camera at her and watched her be damn near perfect every time.”

For more on Lisa Nicole Carson and her battle with bipolar disorder, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Monday.

“She brought an inerrant truthfulness to her work, and it was always so ‘felt,’ if you know what I mean,” continues MacNicol. “Even when she didn’t have a speaking line, the editor could reliably cut to her and find her face was speaking volumes. I’m not exaggerating when I say she was among the most talented people I’ve ever worked with.”

Looking back he says, “In my encounters with her, Lisa was unfailingly professional, cheerful, always knowing her lines and punctual to the set. So when she’d go a little ‘sad’ on me, get a little distant, I really noticed it. When her mood darkened it was always kind of heart-tugging. You felt for her, she looked kind of lost and wounded, like someone struggling. But these were very rare occasions which is why they stood out in such relief. The fact is, Lisa was a joyful, radiant and positive being, and she enriched that show immeasurably.”