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Mary McDonnell

Mary McDonnell
Mary McDonnell at the Phoenix Comicon, May 2015
Born Mary Eileen McDonnell
(1952-04-28) April 28, 1952
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
Years active 1970s–present
Spouse(s) Randle Mell (1984–present)
Children 2

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, and Rose in Donnie Darko. She currently stars as Captain Sharon Raydor on the TNT series Major Crimes.


  • Personal life 1
  • Career 2
  • Filmography 3
    • Film 3.1
    • Television 3.2
  • Awards and nominations 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Personal life

McDonnell was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Ithaca, New York. She is the daughter of Eileen (née Mundy; 1921–1990) and John "Jack" McDonnell (1923–1973), a computer consultant.[1] Her siblings are Jane (1950–2005), Sally, Judith, Jackie, and John.[2] She is of Irish descent.[3] 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 1994).[4]


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. 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 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 played Dr. Virginia Dixon, a surgeon with Asperger syndrome for three episodes of Grey's Anatomy in 2008 and 2009.[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

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.[8] McDonnell received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2011 for the role.[9]

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.[10]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Garbo Talks Lady Capulet
1987 Matewan Elma Radnor
1988 Tiger Warsaw Paula Warsaw
1990 Dances with Wolves Stands With A Fist Nominated—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
1991 Grand Canyon Claire
1992 Passion Fish May-Alice Culhane Nominated—Academy Award for Best Actress
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama
1992 Sneakers Liz
1994 Blue Chips Jenny Bell
1996 Independence Day First Lady Marilyn Whitmore
1996 Mariette in Ecstasy Prioress
1997 12 Angry Men Judge Television film
1997 Woman Undone Terri Hansen
1998 You Can Thank Me Later Diane
1998 Evidence of Blood Dora Overton Television film
1999 Replacing Dad Linda Marsh Television film
1999 Mumford Althea Brockett
2000 A Father's Choice Susan Shaw Television film
2000 For All Time Laura Brown Television film
2001 Donnie Darko Rose Darko
2002 Locket, TheThe Locket Helen Staples Television film
2003 Nola Margaret Langworthy
2004 Crazy Like a Fox Amy Banks
2005 Mrs. Harris Vivian Schulte Television film
2009 Killer Hair Rose Television film
2009 Hostile Makeover Rose Smithsonian Television film
2011 Scream 4 Kate Roberts
2011 Margin Call Mary Rogers Nominated—Gotham Award for Best Ensemble Cast
Nominated—Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Cast


Year Title Role Notes
1980 As the World Turns Claudia Colfax Unknown episodes
1984–85 E/R Dr. Eve Sheridan 20 episodes
1995–96 High Society Dorothy "Dott" Emerson 13 episodes
1999 Ryan Caulfield: Year One Rachel Caulfield 2 episodes
2001–02 ER Eleanor Carter 5 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2002 Touched by an Angel Sister Theodore Episode: "Minute by Minute"
2003 Battlestar Galactica President Laura Roslin 2 episodes
2004–09 Battlestar Galactica President Laura Roslin 71 episodes
Saturn Award for Best Actress on Television
2008–09 Grey's Anatomy Dr. Virginia Dixon 3 episodes
2009–12 Closer, TheThe Closer Captain Sharon Raydor 23 episodes
Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series
2012–present Major Crimes Captain Sharon Raydor 66 episodes

Awards and nominations

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1991 Academy Awards Best Supporting Actress Dances with Wolves Nominated
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Best Supporting Actress Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Nominated
1993 Academy Awards Best Actress Passion Fish Nominated
Golden Globe Awards Best Actress – Motion Picture Drama Nominated
2002 Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series ER Nominated
2009 Saturn Awards Best Actress on Television Battlestar Galactica Won
2011 Gotham Awards Best Ensemble Cast Margin Call Nominated
Phoenix Film Critics Society Awards Best Cast Nominated
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series The Closer Nominated


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

External links

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