Rising above the negative stereotypes attached to models-turned-actresses, Alison Elliott has proved her talent as the latter in an eclectic mix of leading roles. Raised in San Francisco, Elliott worked as a Ford model, but decided that acting was her calling and was soon cast on a short-lived TV series. Though she won a supporting role in Lawrence Kasdan and Kevin Costner's downbeat interpretation of Western legend Wyatt Earp (1994), Elliott began to forge a career in independent films when she was cast as the central femme in Steven Soderbergh's neo-noir The Underneath (1994). Elliott's star performance as the reformed ex-con in The Spitfire Grill (1996) earned rave reviews, but despite winning the Sundance Film Festival Audience Award, the film was less than stellar at the box office. Elliott showed that she could also handle period roles in Iain Softley's adaptation of the Henry James novel The Wings of the Dove (1997). As ailing heiress Millie Theale, Elliott managed to be ethereal and ingenuous without being cloying, matching Softley's emphasis on the story's complex emotional ambiguities. Sticking to her non-Hollywood ways, Elliott next starred in The Eternal (1998), directed by resolute iconoclast Michael Almereyda.