- 28 April 1952
- Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA
Mary McDonnell is a two-time Oscar®-nominated actress, who is known for her character portrayals in both period and present-day screen roles. Mary Eileen McDonnell was born on April 28, 1952 in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to Eileen (Mundy) and John McDonnell, a computer consultant, both of Irish descent. Mary was raised in Ithaca, New York. After graduating from the State University of New York at Fredonia, she attended drama school and joined the Long Wharf Theatre Company on the East Coast. It was not until 20 years after working on the theater stage that she had her breakthrough film role, in Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves (1990), playing Stands with a Fist, a white woman raised by the Sioux Indians. McDonnell received an Academy Award nomination for the role, and also garnered a Best Actress Academy Award® nomination and Golden Globe nomination for her portrayal of a paraplegic soap opera star in John Sayles' critically acclaimed Passion Fish (1992). McDonnell's extensive list of film credits include the Lawrence Kasdan films Grand Canyon and Mumford; Sneakers, opposite Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier and Sir Ben Kingsley; Roland Emmerich's smash Independence Day, with Bill Pullman and Will Smith; acclaimed art house cult-hit Donnie Darko; and Margin Call, opposite Kevin Spacey, which also earned her the Robert Altman Award at the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards. On the small screen, McDonnell starred in four seasons on the Syfy Network's award-winning series Battlestar Galactica in her critically praised performance as the President Laura Roslin. The series earned a Peabody Award, and AFI deemed the series TV Program of the Year for two years in a row. McDonnell garnered an Emmy nomination for her recurring guest role on the television series ER. Some of her other television credits include the ABC hit-series Grey's Anatomy, the CBS series High Society, TNT's adaptation of Arthur Miller's The American Clock, the critically acclaimed CBS movie Behind The Mask and Lifetime's Two Small Voices. McDonnell received rave reviews for her performance opposite David Strathairn in Emily Mann's acclaimed adaptation of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. McDonnell began her career in theatre and has starred in a wide variety of both Broadway and off-Broadway productions. She received an Obie Award for her performance in Emily Mann's Still Life and has starred in off-Broadway productions such as Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning Buried Child, John Patrick Shanley's Savage in Limbo, John O'Keefe's All Night Long, Michael Cristofer's Black Angel, Kathleen Tolan's A Weekend Near Madison, Paula Cizmar's Death of a Miner and Dennis McIntyre's National Anthem. Her Broadway credits include Tennessee Williams' Summer and Smoke, the title role in Wendy Wasserstein's Pulitzer Prize-winning The Heidi Chronicles and Emily Mann's Execution of Justice. Mary stars as Captain Sharon Raydor on the TNT's hit drama series Major Crimes, the follow-up to The Closer, in which McDonnell originated the role and for which she earned a Primetime Emmy® nomination. McDonnell received her first Oscar nomination and Golden Globe® nomination for her portrayal of . Mary lives in Pacific Palisades, California with her husband, actor Randle Mell, and their two children, Olivia and Michael.