From Battlestar Galactica to Major Crimes: retrospective on Mary McDonnell’s career
July 23, 2016
Article translated from Allocine
Very well known to the fans of Battlestar Galactica, Mary McDonnell is filling out her career ever since 2012 already with the character of Captain Sharon Raydor in Major Crimes. We focus on her remarkable journey.
A promising start
A native of Pennsylvania in the United States, Mary McDonnell starts a drama school at the graduation by the end of high school. After twenty years she gained experience both on the stage and on television, particularly through the TV movie Courage with Sophia Loren, the American actress wears for the first time the white coat in medical fiction E/R, where she met a beginner George Clooney.
In 1990, the young woman lands the female lead role in Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves, embodying a daughter of American colonists adopted by tge Sioux, gaining a nomination for an Oscar. That brings a multitude of feature films that increase her visibility to the public, like Passion Fish in the role of a soap opera star paralyzed after a tragic accident, or Independence Day as the First lady of the United States, Marilyn Whitmore. She also got the chance to share several scenes with Robert Redford in the 1993 thriller, Sneakers. A few years passing, McDonnell plays in the peculiar sitcom High Society, developing the story of two friends and associated with a decadent behavior, but with a very poor audience the series only ran for one season. In 2001, she joined the distribution of psychological thriller Donnie Darko, uncovering a maternal instinct with Jake Gyllenhaal, her son on the screen.
Television, her new shelter
As of being very present in cinema industry, it is difficult to say the same for the little space where her previous series did not have much success. That’s when she gives a change by joining the cult series ER, this time as Eleanor, mother of Dr. Carter played by Noah Wyle, for a small arc of episodes. Starting with casting of the sci-fi mini-series Battlestar Galactica, she then joins the ship for four seasons as President Laura Roslin, a leader woman in power and doing anything possible to prevent the destruction of humanity. This role brings a significant recognition to McDonnell, granting a Saturn Award for best TV actress in 2009. Later, it is possible to see her in the fourth installment of the horror saga by Wes Craven, Scream, as well as in the independent movie about the 2007 financial crisis, Margin Call, where she starred with Kevin Spacey and Demi Moore. Following a brief passing as a surgeon with Asperger syndrome in Grey’s Anatomy, she finally lands on the crime series The Closer, in which she’s offered the recurring role of Sharon Raydor, authoritarian police captain who does not let anyone step on her toes. Despite the success of the show, the heroine Kyra Sedgwick did not renew her contract and the series is cancelled after seven seasons run. But TNT was not ready to bid farewell to the hit show and in 2012 announced the development of Major Crimes, a spin-off in which McDonnell took over the reins of the team, while working closely with the prosecutor’s office to negotiate an agreement with the defendants.
Mary McDonnell continues her quest for justice through Captain Sharon Raydor. As Season 5 is currently running in the US, France 2 offers re-runs of Season 2 every Monday at 8.50 pm.