Mary McDonnell (born April 28, 1952) is an American film, stage, and television actress. She is famous for her Oscar-nominated role as Stands With Fist in Dances with Wolves, and for starring as President Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica.
McDonnell was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and raised in Ithaca, New York. 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 whom she worked for over 20 years. McDonnell is married to Randle Mell, who is also an actor. They have two children, Olivia and Michael, and currently reside in Los Angeles.
 Stage, film & television
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. Despite portraying the adopted daughter of Graham Greene's character Kicking Bird, Mary McDonnell, then 37, was actually two months older than Greene, and less than two years younger than Tantoo Cardinal, the actress playing her adoptive mother. In addition, McDonnell was extremely nervous about shooting her sex scene with Kevin Costner, requesting it to be toned down from what was scripted.
She received a nomination 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), Independence Day (1996), and Donnie Darko (2001). McDonnell also starred with Patrick Swayze in the 1988 movie, Tiger Warsaw.
On television, McDonnell had her first regular role in 1980 on the soap opera As the World Turns. She starred in 1984 on the short-lived medical sitcom 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's syndrome for three episodes of Grey's Anatomy in 2008 and 2009.
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