elcome to Mary McDonnell Vault, your online resource dedicated to actress Mary McDonnell. You better know Mary for her role as Captain Sharon Raydor for the TNT crime series The Closer & Major Crimes. But she also did others like Battlestar Galactica, Independence Day, Donnie Darko, Dances with Wolves, Sneakers and many others. Site is comprehensive of a big photogallery with events, photoshoots, magazines, stills, an extensive press library to collect all the articles and interviews on her and a video gallery section for recorded interviews, sneak peeks and trailers of her projects. We claim no rights to know her personally and it's absolutely respectful of her privacy and paparazzi-free!!!

Battlestar Galactica

Character: President Laura Roslin

Created by: Ronald D. Moore, Glen A. Larson

Directed by: Michael Rymer

Written by: Ronald D. Moore, Glen A. Larson

Produced by: Ronald D. Moore, David Eick,

Cast Members: Edward James Olmos, Jamie Bamber, James Callis, Tricia Helfer, Grace Park, Katee Sackhoff, Michael Hogan, Aaron DouglasTahmoh Penikett

Released date: January 15, 2005

Episode(s) Number: Appeared in all episodes

Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama

When an old enemy, the Cylons, resurface and obliterate the 12 colonies, the crew of the aged Galactica protect a small civilian fleet - the last of humanity - as they journey toward the fabled 13th colony, Earth.


The fight to save humanity rages on.
Where will you stand?
Destiny is not what it seems.
The world is over. The fight has just begun.


♥ Though other actresses were considered, the role of Laura Roslin was written especially for Mary McDonnell.

♥ Critical regard for the show was so high that the United Nations held a special symposium (unprecedented for a television show) to discuss the themes of race, gender, sexuality, religion and terrorism on the show and how they related to the modern era. Ronald D. Moore, David Eick, Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos appeared on a special panel hosted by avowed fan Whoopi Goldberg for the presentation.

♥ McDonnell and Olmos have already appeared together in a movie, 12 Angry Men

Episodes Guide


I do not believe I exaggerate when I declare that Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos raise their performances to a summit out of reach for most actors by portraying these two mature, hurt, brave, flawed, and terribly beautiful characters. Both actors already knew what it felt like to be Oscar-nominated when they accepted these roles, but their performances as Laura Roslin and Bill Adama should have earned them every award in the industry.María Traver Andújar

In Mary’s words…

♦ “It’s like a good wine, really. It’s not going away and people continue to discover it and need it and rewatch it and that’s gratifying. But again, you have to have the writer. You have to have the visionary. And if that person loves what they do and is willing to commit to that vision, it will last forever.” [from “Mary McDonnell on Battlestar Galactica popularity: ‘I’m not surprised’” by Justin Harp]

“It’s not easy being Laura,” smiles Mary McDonnell […] “Even though there were these huge dramatic incidents that sort of piled up, I felt the writers did an excellent job of disciplining themselves with Laura,” notes McDonnell. […] “Admittedly it did get a little difficult trying to modulate the cancer. On the one hand you want to show the effects of the disease. It wouldn’t really be fair to the millions of people in real life who suffer from cancer not to reveal its pain through Laura. Conversely, you have to have a president who can function and who you can trust, otherwise it’s hard to back her on some of the tougher issues. That was a tricky balance to achieve and continues to be. As far as how we’re proceeding with her cancer, I’ve no idea what the producers have in mind. For the moment, Laura is happily taking her medication and is in a functioning place. So far this year we haven’t had a big interruption due to her illness, but that will come, I’m sure of it.” [from “Sci-Fi Blast From The Past – Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)” by Steve Eramo]

[Being asked her favorite episode]
Someone asked me that at the UN event too, and I really don’t. I do have favorite moments where we were all on the set, where the entire ensemble was collected, for example, when we landed on the first Earth… (laughs)… the disastrous Earth…we were all there that day, we were all working together, so this sort of collective consciousness of Battlestar Galactica was assembled on a beach on a cloudy day in Canada. There was something so remarkable about actually being in the presence of everyone who had worked on the show – even a lot of people from LA had come up for that particular event. I remember those moments more vividly than some of the others because I was always so respectfully in awe of the ensemble, and quite often didn’t get to work with a lot of the people who were on the show. As an actress you kind of relish those moments where everyone’s in the same place and you get to observe the ensemble at work. It was really quite exciting. I have many moments like that – I can’t really name one episode.
[from ““The Heart of the Female Warrior” – A Sitrep Interview with Mary McDonnell” by Sam J. Miller]

[Being asked her favorite moment]
I can tell you one favorite moment, and it’s sort of an actor’s favorite moment. Because when you’re acting … what you’re really aiming for is when you truly separate from some idea of what you should be doing and you end up living in the moment for a brief period of time. It’s the simplest form of anything you could have thought of. And you wish for those moments.
It’s the moment in which Laura Roslin gave Adama his admiral’s wings, and they’re sitting there and she’s just looking at him, smiling. And there was just something about the way Eddie and I behaved in that scene that when we were doing it felt like we had just slipped into golden times. Nothing had to be talked about, nothing had to be acted, nothing had to be anything. But I also felt like it was the first time I really understood the depth of their love. And it all happened in one moment. So, for me, it’s still a little treasure. I don’t know what it was about that moment, but it was just a treasure. It said everything from the beginning to the end in one moment.
[from “A Conversation with Mary McDonnell” by Shannon Baldo]

[Talking about her chemistry with Edward James Olmos]
Well, I take control. [Laughs] I think one of the things I enjoy about this chemistry is that Ed is powerful enough for me. But given the character I had to play, there had to be somebody opposite me who allowed me to be interested in them on every level in order to have this relationship and these power plays that go on. So I’m really deeply grateful that it’s Ed, because he’s a powerhouse. I would not be able to maximize this situation if I wasn’t playing opposite someone that powerful. For me, it’s been a real gift.
[from “Event Horizon: ‘Battlestar Galactica’” by Sarah Kuhn]

[On how she approached to Laura Roslin’s character]
That’s a good question. What informed me in the pilot…what I felt was her sense, her very deep sense of responsibility as a teacher; she just transferred it to the fleet. I just started with that, and every time there was a big question for her, I kind of measured it within the context of what would be good for the people. So it was constantly coming back…there were things that she had to make decisions about that she had no preparation for, so the question remained constantly about how to keep the human race alive. It became very simple.
[from “Interview: Mary McDonnell [Battlestar Galactica]” by James Rundle]

[On Laura losing her hair because of cancer]
As you can see, I come from really Irish genes and a sort of a big-hair family, and they’ve been important to me. I see it as part of the feminist situation, so it was hard for me to let go of it, much to the frustration of the casting people around me. So, I tried to approach that and sort of sympathize [that] basically Laura has my hair, so she would have a similar attachment. But what Laura taught me that I didn’t anticipate — she was far more deeply invested in an agenda in life, so she had so much less ego than I have and was able to completely free me up.
[from “‘Battlestar Galactica’: Presenting the president, Mary McDonnell” by Jevon Phillips]

[On whether she wants Laura to be a cylon or not]
I don’t think about it much. I prefer not to think about it. It’s being asked of me more and more, because now, of course, she does have cylon DNA in her and that’s going to probably be something that we have to deal with sooner or later in some way or another. Would I want her to become a cylon? No, I don’t think so. I think Laura’s function in the show, as far as I can see at the moment, is to hopefully find a way to grow beyond the prejudice towards the cylon, as well as maintain leadership. I think that’s her juggling act. I think that that’s our job on the planet right now, and so I love being positioned to struggle with that issue of being in a position of leadership and knowing you’re trying to survive and trying whenever possible to rise above survival instincts and take the higher road. Can Laura get to the point where she would be fearless enough to allow the cylon to not be the other, to me, that would be an unbelievably exciting growth. If she became a cylon, I cannot even imagine what that would be, so I just don’t think about it.
[from “Battlestar Galactica 2k Cast Interviews“]

[On what she learnt from the series]
I learned that I love the creativity of being at the edge of a character and collaborating on who she is and will become. This was my first hour drama, and I felt quite satisfied most of the time. Laura Roslin taught me a great deal about the trade-off that occurs, the constant negotiation between heart and mind that occurs in a woman when operating at the top of the male power structure.
Playing this female president gave me a deep curiosity and profound visceral experience of smart capable women who choose to step into the top job. My respect and admiration for Hillary Clinton, which was already high, grew exponentially (and continues to grow) during my exploration of Laura Roslin.
[from “President Roslin Speaks — Q&A With ‘Battlestar Galactica’s’ Mary McDonnell” by Kate O’Hare]

[On her favorite moment of the series finale]
I absolutely loved the idea that Earth was so much more than we thought it could be. And also the idea of dreams informing reality more than we’re willing to admit. You know, I think what the show ultimately was asking was for us all to be more mindful.
[from “Mary McDonnell talks ‘Battlestar’ finale” by Jarett Wieselman]

Script developed by Never Enough Design