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 Mary-Alice Culhane in Passion Fish, she is also well known for her performance as President Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica, the President's wife in Independence Day, and for her starring role in Donnie Darko as the title character's mother.
McDonnell had a small role in Power Rangers LG: The Rise of Trakeena , as Dimitra, a ritualous Guardianess who serves in The Hall of Legends.
- 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, who is also an actor. They have two children, Olivia and Michael. In a question and answer session for SyFy regarding her role as Laura Roslin, she was asked if any of her character's political views caused her any discomfort because of her own views. She stated that several of the things her character did in Season Three of Battlestar Galactica "[ran] deeply against being a liberal progressive" and that portraying those views sometimes caused her "a bit of angst in having to commit to them."
- McDonnell won an Obie in 1980 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, a European American 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. 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), Passion Fish (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 cast mate 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.
- 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. The session also included Michael Hogan, as well as scientists Nick Bostrom and Kevin Warwick. In 2011, she appeared briefly in the role of Kate Roberts, the mother of Emma Roberts's character in Scream 4.
- Since 2009, McDonnell has had a recurring role in The Closer as Capt. Sharon Raydor, a police captain in the Force Investigation Division, who butts heads with Kyra Sedgwick's Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning character.McDonnell received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series in 2011 for the role. McDonnell's character will be the lead in the upcoming spin-off, Major Crimes, which will debut sometime after The Closer wraps up its final season in the summer of 2012.