Whalley earned her first international recognition as the beatific Nurse Mills in Dennis Potter's award-winning "The Singing Detective" (1987) and brought a winning candor to her starring role as Christine Keeler in "Scandal" (1989). Popular success in mainstream Hollywood releases, though, has been elusive; her American films, including "Navy Seals" (1990) and "Trial by Jury" (1994), received a very modest reception from the public.
Whalley received considerably greater exposure when she landed one of the most coveted TV roles of the 1990s, that of Scarlett O'Hara in the television sequel to the much acclaimed feature "Gone With The Wind" (1939). Despite inevitable comparisons to Vivien Leigh, Whalley made the spunky character her own, winning over critics and viewers in the miniseries, "Scarlett" (CBS, 1994).
Having been married to actor Val Kilmer for seven years, with whom she co-starred in the films "Willow" (1988) and "Kill Me Again" (1989), the couple announced their separation shortly after the birth of their second child, Jack Kilmer. Whalley then filed for divorce on July 21, 1995 citing irreconcilable differences.