Trascript from Magazine Scan of Parade.
From starring in “Dances With Wolves” to her current role as a soap-opera star in “Passion Fish,” that’s Mary McDonnell
A couple of years ago when Kevin Constner was talking with Esquire magazine about his block-buster Dances With Wolves, he was asked how and why he picked Mary McDonnell to portray the young white captive of the Sioux called “Stands With a Fist”.
Said Costner, who was not only the film’s star but also its director and creative force: “I wanted someone with a few lines on her face”.
When I talked recently to Ms. McDonnell, who ended up being nominated for an Oscar for the role, I said “What about that? What about those lines on your face?” Mary, who is downright beautiful, took the question in good humor. “I knew what he meant—someone who had experienced hard going and came through,” she said. “But I must admit it was an odd way to put it.”
She’s going through hard times again in a new flick called Passion Fish, in which she plays a soap-opera star injured in a New York taxicab accident who ends up taking refuge in the Louisiana bayou country. “I’ve done soap opera in real life,” said Mary. “I was in As the World Turns for about six months, playing a victim of sorts, in 1979 or ’80.”
Before Dances With Wolves, Mary was in a powerful but largely ignored film about American labor early in the century, called Matewan—also by John Sayles, who directed Passion Fish. More recently, she has done Grand Canyon, with Steve Martin, Danny Glover and Kevin Klein; and Sneakers, with a repertory cast that included Robert Redford, Sidney Poitier, Ben Kingsley and James Earl Jones. So you can see that Mary has been playing in the big leagues.
She and her husband, the actor Randle Mell, and their 5-year-old daughter are living “for the time being” in a house in west L.A. “We’ve been here a year and we are still partly bi-coastal,” Mary explained, New York continues to be their East Coast base.
When we spoke, she had seen Passion Fish twice and said she was very happy with it: “Seeing yourself in a movie the first time isn’t easy. You keep watching yourself and don’t really see the movie. So I went back a second time to see the whole movie. I hadn’t seen the dailies [the film shot each day], because I didn’t have much time and had my daughter on location and chose to skip the dailies and spend time with her.”
After finishing that film, Mary said, “I took time off, and now I’m looking at some things, taking my time. I’ve had some good fortune, and I can hold out a bit. I don’t want to do something mediocre just because I can make a lot of money at it.”
Mary likes stage work and recently was offered a Broadway play. “But it wasn’t really the right role,” she said, “and I didn’t want to uproot my family.”
When Premiere magazine asked Kevin Costner what he thought of Mary, the man didn’t hesitate. Referring to her rugged 100 days of filming “on the prairie,” Kevin said, “She was my hero. She is my hero.” Over and over, you hear Mary being compared to Meryl Streep, and I wanted to know what she thought of that. “I think the world of Meryl,” Mary said. “I feel nothing but flattered.” And if her daughter came to her one day and said, “Mommy, I want to be a movie star”? “If she said, ‘Mommy, I want to be an actress,’ I’d say, ‘Okay, this is what’s involved,’ and then I’d back her 100 percent,” replied Mary. “But if she said, ‘Mommy, I want to be a movie star,’ I don’t know quite what I’d say.”