Mary McDonnell

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Mary McDonnell
Mary mcdonnell cropped.jpg
McDonnell at the Battlestar Galactica panel at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con International
BornMary Eileen McDonnell
(1952-04-28) April 28, 1952 (age 62)
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Years active1970s–present
Spouse(s)Randle Mell (1984?–present; 2 children)
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Mary McDonnell
Mary mcdonnell cropped.jpg
McDonnell at the Battlestar Galactica panel at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con International
BornMary Eileen McDonnell
(1952-04-28) April 28, 1952 (age 62)
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Years active1970s–present
Spouse(s)Randle Mell (1984?–present; 2 children)

Mary Eileen McDonnell (born April 28, 1952) is an American film, stage, and television actress. She received Academy Award nominations for her roles as Stands With A Fist in Dances with Wolves and May-Alice Culhane in Passion Fish. McDonnell is well known for her performances as President Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica, the First Lady in Independence Day, Rose in Donnie Darko, and Captain Sharon Raydor in the TNT crime drama The Closer and spinoff series Major Crimes.

Personal life[edit]

McDonnell was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Ithaca, New York. After graduating from the State University of New York at Fredonia, she attended drama school and joined the East Coast's prestigious Long Wharf Theatre Company, with which she worked for over 20 years. McDonnell is married to Randle Mell (born 1951), who is also an actor. McDonnell and Mell currently reside in Pacific Palisades, California. They have two children: Olivia (born 1987) and Michael (born 1993).[1]


McDonnell won an Obie Award for Best Actress in 1981 for her work in the play Still Life. On Broadway, she has performed in productions of Execution of Justice, The Heidi Chronicles, and Summer and Smoke.

After more than 21 years of theater and television work, McDonnell made her film breakthrough in 1990 as Stands With A Fist, the daughter of American settlers raised by Sioux Indians, in Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves. Portraying the adopted daughter of Graham Greene's character Kicking Bird, McDonnell, then 37, was actually two months older than Greene and less than two years younger than Tantoo Cardinal, who played Black Shawl, her adoptive mother. McDonnell was extremely nervous about shooting her sex scene with Kevin Costner, requesting it to be toned down from what was scripted.[citation needed] She was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for the role.

McDonnell's role in Passion Fish (1992) brought her another Academy Award nomination, this time for Best Actress in a Leading Role. Her other notable films include Grand Canyon (1991), Sneakers (1992), Independence Day (1996), and Donnie Darko (2001). McDonnell also starred with Patrick Swayze in the 1988 movie, Tiger Warsaw. In 1997 she played the judge in the film 12 Angry Men. The film also featured future Battlestar Galactica castmate Edward James Olmos.

On television, McDonnell had her first regular part in 1980 on the soap opera As the World Turns. She starred in 1984 on the short-lived medical comedy E/R, alongside Elliott Gould and George Clooney. Coincidentally, she guest-starred in 2001 on the NBC medical series of the same name, ER, which also featured Clooney. She was nominated for an Emmy Award for her role on the show as Eleanor Carter, the mother of Dr. John Carter played by Noah Wyle, who also had a role in Donnie Darko. She plays Dr. Virginia Dixon, a surgeon with Asperger syndrome for three episodes of Grey's Anatomy in 2008 and 2009.[2]

McDonnell at the 2007 San Diego Comic Con International

In 2003, McDonnell starred in the mini-series Battlestar Galactica as Laura Roslin. The mini-series led to the subsequent weekly series, with McDonnell reprising her Laura Roslin role. The series ended in March 2009. McDonnell received worldwide recognition for her performance in the show, part of which was shown when she was invited to the United Nations for a retrospective and discussion with Edward James Olmos (Admiral Adama).

McDonnell took part in a special session entitled Battlestar Galactica at the 2009 World Science Festival.[3] The session also included Michael Hogan, as well as scientists Nick Bostrom and Kevin Warwick. In 2011, she appeared in the role of Kate Roberts, the mother of Emma Roberts's character in Scream 4.[4]

From 2009 to 2012, McDonnell had a recurring role in The Closer as Capt. Sharon Raydor, a police captain in the Force Investigation Division, who often butts heads with Kyra Sedgwick's Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning character.[5] McDonnell received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2011 for the role.[6]

McDonnell's character is the lead in the spin-off, Major Crimes, which debuted August 13, 2012, after The Closer wrapped up its final season in the summer of 2012.[7]



1984Garbo TalksLady Capulet
1987MatewanElma Radnor
1988Tiger WarsawPaula Warsaw
1990Dances with WolvesStands With A FistNominated—Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture
1991Grand CanyonClaire
1992Passion FishMay-Alice CulhaneNominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1994Blue ChipsJenny Bell
1996Independence DayFirst Lady Marilyn Whitmore
1996Mariette in EcstasyPrioress
199712 Angry MenJudgeTelevision film
1997Woman UndoneTerri Hansen
1998You Can Thank Me LaterDiane
1998Evidence of BloodDora OvertonTelevision film
1999Replacing DadLinda MarshTelevision film
1999MumfordAlthea Brockett
2000A Father's ChoiceSusan ShawTelevision film
2000For All TimeLaura BrownTelevision film
2001Donnie DarkoRose Darko
2002Locket, TheThe LocketHelen StaplesTelevision film
2003NolaMargaret Langworthy
2004Crazy Like a FoxAmy Banks
2005Mrs. HarrisVivian SchulteTelevision film
2009Killer HairRoseTelevision film
2009Hostile MakeoverRose SmithsonianTelevision film
2011Scream 4Kate Roberts
2011Margin CallMary RogersNominated—Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast


1980As the World TurnsClaudia ColfaxUnknown episodes
1984–1985E/RDr. Eve Sheridan20 episodes
1995–1996High SocietyDorothy "Dott" Emerson13 episodes
1999Ryan Caulfield: Year OneRachel Caulfield2 episodes
2001–2002EREleanor Carter5 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2002Touched by an AngelSister TheodoreEpisode: "Minute by Minute"
2003Battlestar GalacticaPresident Laura Roslin2 episodes
2004–2009Battlestar GalacticaPresident Laura Roslin71 episodes
Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television
2008–2009Grey's AnatomyDr. Virginia Dixon3 episodes
2009–2012Closer, TheThe CloserCaptain Sharon Raydor23 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2012–presentMajor CrimesCaptain Sharon Raydor39 episodes

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAssociationCategoryNominated workResult
1991Academy AwardsBest Supporting ActressDances with WolvesNominated
Chicago Film Critics Association AwardsBest Supporting ActressNominated
Golden Globe AwardsBest Supporting Actress – Motion PictureNominated
1993Academy AwardsBest ActressPassion FishNominated
Golden Globe AwardsBest Actress – Motion Picture DramaNominated
2002Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesERNominated
2009Saturn AwardsBest Actress on TelevisionBattlestar GalacticaWon
2011Gotham AwardsBest Ensemble CastMargin CallNominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society AwardsBest CastNominated
Primetime Emmy AwardsOutstanding Guest Actress in a Drama SeriesThe CloserNominated


  1. ^ accessed 8/16/2014
  2. ^ "Zap2it Interview". MSNBC. Retrieved November 13, 2008. 
  3. ^ Battlestar Galactica World Science Festival, June 10–14, 2009, New York City
  4. ^ Creepy, Uncle (July 2, 2010). "And the Body Count Continues – More Scream 4 Casting: Mary McDonnell and Alison Brie". Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  5. ^ Ausiello, Michael (March 22, 2009). "'The Closer' exclusive: It's McDonnell vs. Sedgwick!". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 2, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Primetime Emmy Awards nominations for 2011 – Outstanding Guest Actress In A Drama Series". Retrieved July 18, 2011. 
  7. ^ Fienberg, Daniel (May 18, 2011). "TNT orders 'Closer' spinoff 'Major Crimes' starring Mary McDonnell". HitFix. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 

External links[edit]