Date of Birth
28 April 1952
Place of Birth
Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA
Mary Eileen McDonnell
5′ 6″ (1.68 m)
Deep smooth voice
Randle Mell (29 September 1984 – present)
Olivia Mell & Michael Mell
McDonnell was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and was raised in Ithaca, New York. She was the daughter of Eileen (née Mundy; 1921-1990) and John “Jack” McDonnell (1923-1973). Her siblings are Jane (1950-2005), Sally, Judith, Jackie, and John. 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).
– We have to get back to the beauty of just being alive in this present moment.
– We never know all the facts and the more we’re mindful of how we deal with people, the more opportunity we have to evolve.
– Actors are part of a certain percentage of people on this planet who have an emotional vocabulary as a primary experience. It’s as if their life is experienced emotionally and then that is translated intellectually or conceptually into the performance.
– That moment was very important because it was political. That’s what has to be done, so they struck a deal. She figures his is a well-thought-out motivation that she felt was worthy trade-off. The motivation here is survival, and she has to think like a leader.
– I love to work. I love to have complexity.
– It’s really important for actors to feel that they’re more than something for hire.
– The Cylons are such a frightening concept – not knowing who is real. No way.
– I do think that it’s extremely important with this character show her assuming power with a great deal of grace, and find out how to do things she won’t like – the things she’s called upon to do.
– It’s phenomenally important to me that, if I’m going to be spending years on a project, I need to be interested in the whole thing. I’m not there to be on my own. And if I’m going to be with these people, I’d best be interested in their work.
– I love the idea of a woman being able to discover the idea of power this way, on such a scale. And I don’t know about that, what it means – well, I guess I’d better, or my part’s in trouble.
– Ron allowed us to see right away the private piece of a person about to become very public. I suspect we’re going to see more of her very private world – Laura’s private experience. I’m not sure yet how public she’s going to be about the actions she’s going to have to take.
– With BSG, sci-fi is the human experience taken beyond the envelope. When I first became involved with the project, I knew that I would be able to play a human being for many years, exploring and reflecting on issues that would impact people’s lives.
– Well, I don’t know what Ron has in mind, but I do know about the arc of the show. Looking at how intuitive and instinctive Eddie and I play, that is the sort of thing that leads into sexual chemistry. I wouldn’t be surprised if it emerged.
– Has taught acting classes with her husband, Randle Mell, even after being nominated for an Academy Award.
– Listed as one of twelve “Promising New Actors of 1990” in John Willis’ Screen World, Vol. 42.
– Attended Fredonia State University.
– Was a cast member of the medical drama E/R (1984) and also has a recurring role on the 1990s medical drama of nearly the same name, ER (1994).
– Moved to Los Angeles, California, as an adult with her husband and daughter.
– Though born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, she was raised in Ithaca, New York.
– Plays the First Lady during a devastating attack by aliens in Independence Day (1996), and the President after a devastating attack by robots in Battlestar Galactica (2004).
– Has appeared in four films with Alfre Woodard: Grand Canyon (1991), Passion Fish (1992), Blue Chips (1994) and Mumford (1999).
– Has been a huge fan of Vanessa Redgrave since the 1970s.
– Twice played alongside a non-human named Boomer; a dog in Independence Day (1996) and a Cylon in Battlestar Galactica (2004).
– Was offered the part of May-Alice Culhane in Passion Fish (1992) before it was even written.
– The role of Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica (2004) was written with her in mind. She was the first actor offered the role by creator Ronald D. Moore.
– Was a competitive and synchronized swimmer as a child and still swims to keep in shape.
– After graduation, she moved to New York City. While looking for acting work, she supported herself by selling Fuller brushes door to door in Rockefeller Center. In the classic struggling-actress tradition, she also worked as a waitress.
– Mary and her family lived for a time just outside Philadelphia in Upper Merion Township, Pennsylvania, where she attended Port Kennedy Kindergarten, 1957-58.
– She is part of the National Advisory Board for the Cathy and Jesse Marion Art Gallery of Fredonia State University of New York (more info at www.fredonia.edu. Thanks to @ilonarcari for providing us with this info)