Then & now
Alison Doody, actress/model
AS INDIANA JONES, Harrison Ford fought Nazis, snakes and marauding tribesmen, but few of his foes were deadlier – or more beautiful – than Dr Elsa Schneider, played to cold-hearted perfection by Irish actress and model Alison Doody. As the treacherous Austrian femme fatale in the 1989 blockbuster Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, Doody channelled the lithe spirit of Grace Kelly, and looked set to become one of Hollywood’s iconic screen sirens. Sean Connery was one of her co-stars on The Last Crusade; she had begun her movie career playing Bond girl Jenny Flex in A View To A Killwith Roger Moore; she also co-starred with Pierce Brosnan in Taffin, so technically that’s three Bonds she has worked with. She also starred alongside Mickey Rourke and Liam Neeson in A Prayer for the Dying.
Following the box-office success of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade(it was the third part of Steven Spielberg’s huge Indiana Jones trilogy, so it was hardly going to flop), Peoplemagazine included Doody in its list of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World, and she was picked to be the new face of L’Oréal. All she needed now was a starring role in another blockbuster – say, Basic Instinct– and Hollywood was hers for the taking. But Doody was rumoured to have been one of many stars – including Meg Ryan, Kim Basinger, Greta Scacchi and Kathleen Turner – who turned down the role of femme fatale Catherine Trammel in the controversial thriller, and the part went to Sharon Stone. The role would probably not have appealed to Doody. She had built her career on being cool and collected, and didn’t film nude scenes. When the Irish Mirrorerroneously published an article in 2000 claiming she had appeared nude or partially-nude in a film, she took a libel action that was settled out of court.
Despite starring in Major League IIopposite a pre-meltdown Charlie Sheen, Doody never quite bagged a part to equal her role as the nubile Nazi sympathiser. But she hardly sank into obscurity. She married her boyfriend, Gavin O’Reilly, the CEO of Independent News and Media, in 1994 in a lavish reception with nearly 600 guests, and the couple settled in Bartra House, a 10,000 sq ft pile overlooking the sea in Dalkey. They had two daughters, Alanna and Lauren, before separating in 2004.
Acting went on the back-burner for most of her marriage (she turned down an offer to star as Eowyn in Lord of The Ringsbecause she was pregnant), but when she took a cameo in The Actors, starring Michael Caine and Dylan Moran, she realised she missed her old career. But, after 10 years away from Hollywood, Doody hasn’t found it so easy to sashay back in. Apart from a small part in Danny Dyer’s movie The Rapture, she hasn’t troubled cinema screens much since her comeback, though she is slated to play the lead role in a remake of 1970 horror flick The Asphyx.
She has, though, found a warm welcome on the small screen. She starred with the late Patrick Swayze in a TV movie version of King Solomon’s Mines, and had a role in top UK drama series Waking The Dead. She’s also been seen regularly on RTÉ’s The Clinic, and, at 44, has landed a role in the new E4 comedy series Beaver Falls, playing a “cougar” who seduces a younger man played by Sam Robertson. “Alison’s a beautiful lady – and a fantastic kisser,” her co-star told The Sun, “and I have never kissed an Irishwoman, so she was ticking a lot of boxes.”