Category Archives: Mary Mcdonnell

Mary McDonnell

Mary McDonnell in “Passion Fish”

Mary McDonnell received her second Oscar nomination for playing May-Alice Culhane, in Passion Fish.
Passion Fish is an average production, but it brought to a whole other level with the performances of Alfre Woodard and espeically, Mary McDonnell.

She plays May-Alice Culhane, a soap actress, who is one first class bitch. She has just been accident and will be now be bound to a wheelchair, so she decides to return to her Louisiana hometown. Mary McDonnell, right from the beginning, let’s us know May-Alice was bitchy before the accident, but now she’s bitter and she will take her bitterness out on anyone.

McDonnell does a great job of not only handling her character’s bitchiness, but also her fear and depression she suffered from her accident. She also never overplays the drunk part of her character. An easy character to screw up, but Mary McDonnell never does that.
I guess my reason for not giving Mary McDonnell a higher grade, is simply because I don’t think it’s anything too brilliant or amazing. She gives a great performance that she controls 100% throughout the movie, and never missteps, but again, the average quality of the movie doesn’t help her give a top-of-the-mountain performance.
Still, Mary McDonnell is able to transect many emotions with May-Alice, and she does it without thinking about how to do them. She becomes the bitchy paralyzed actress and makes us care and put of with her timid attitude. McDonnell knows what she’s doing, and the results is a great performance.

5 Reasons to Love Mary McDonnell

5. Dances with Wolves

4. Passion Fish
3. The Closer/Major Crimes
2. High Society

Mary McDonnell in Passion Fish

Mary McDonnell received her second Oscar nomination for playing May-Alice Culhane, a paralysed and quite bitchy soap opera actress in Passion Fish. I guess McDonnell was not a major player for the Academy Award in 1992. Although many people must have liked her, she wasn’t famous enough to get ahead of Michelle or Susan. I guess she had to settle for a comfortable fourth placed and she had to say eventually that it’s an honor just to be nominated.
Passion Fish was the most pleasant surprise of the films I’ve seen for this year. I didn’t expect anything but a lame, boring TV movie and yet I saw a beautiful, humorous and lovely film that I would gladly rewatch any time. Everything is so relaxing about it: it’s excellently written (might have deserved the Oscar) and directed plus it has a wondeful soundtrack. Overall, it’s a wondeful experience, especially if we take a look at the performances. Alfre Woodard is nothing short of amazing in her role. In my opinion, she should have won the Supporting Actress Oscar (she wasn’t even nominated). But Nancy Mette’s cameo is also brilliant.
Mary McDonnell (in my opinion) is a really good actress. I wouldn’t say that I’m a fan of hers but I’ve never been disappointed by her performances. I loved her as Donnie Darko’s worried mom, she was reat in Battlestar Galactica (at least in the 5 minutes I saw) and I also loved her in Dances with Wolves (I know, I know). So I didn’t expect a towering achievement from her in Passion Fish, only a very entertaining piece of work that relaxes me. And hold on to your seats: she lived up to all of my expectations. In fact, she went beyond them. But more on that later.
McDonnell plays May-Alice, a bitchy soap opera actress who’s forced to live in a wheelchair, depending on nurses and she’s a bit fed up with the whole situation. In fact, none of the nurses is able ti put up with her, except for Alfre Woodard’s character. First we see how they are getting to know each other and such things. Their relationship doesn’t go the way one would expect and yet everything is believable about them. Both actresses are at the top of their game, so they work wonderfully together. I felt no competition between them and they really seemed to be very supportive of each other. They were never trying to play each other off and that’s really great, in my opinion. I think this works mostly with women. I think male actors tend to be much more competitive in movies than female actors and this movie was another proof of that thought of mine. Alfre Woodard is amazing (as I said) but she never overshadows Mary McDonnell and steps over at her big scenes.
Mary McDonnell’s performance as May-Alice (just like Passion Fish) is a very interesting mix of comedy and drama. I would say it’s very bittersweet. When I read the story and the reviews about her, I thought that she was going to be much more bitchy and mean and yet I really liked her character. There was something adorably human about her. I don’t necessarily think that she’s that much of a bitch. Her behaviour was understandable in that situation, I guess. However, the bitchy scenes are nailed by McDonnell. She’s so incredibly entertaining there and the touch of irony that she gives to the character makes it all perfect. I loved the scene where she’s visited by two women who made her life hell at school and then they sucked up to her. McDonnell excells there: the way she says “it was me” or “It’s a joke, precious.” is hilarious.
A somewhat similar scene comes where she meets her castmates from the soap opera. Their conversation is really heart-breaking actually (that “anal probe line” that comes from Nancy Mette is indeed great) and Mary had very much to do with it. The development of May-Alice was best shown there by McDonnell. Somehow, I felt that May-Alice became a different person by her accident. Overall, this character had much more layers than one would initially think. McDonnell was very tricky that way but I did not really mind. It was just excellent.
And I didn’t even mention the tender scenes with her and David Strathairn. I loved how Mary suggested that May-Alice begins to fall in love. And the scene with the passion fish is indeed great. Somehow, May-Alice seems to be much calmer and kinder in time.
Overall, this is a wonderful performance that I loved from the beginning to the end. Although it’s not a mindblowing piece of work, it’s still exceptional and should be much more often talked about. Mary McDonnell created a very memorable and much more layered character than one would expect. She excellently shows this character’s pain plus she’s a real treat to watch.
Final prediction time! :)

Mary Mcdonnell and her talk about Lyme

This is a marvelous talk and everyone should watch.

Mary McDonnell Has a Type (Of Character. Stop Being Dirty.)

Dan Ingram of Fear the Cacti and Crossover Appeal is now a regular contributor! You can read his previous posts herehere, and here.

There’s a saying
that in literature there are only a certain number of stories you can tell,
everything else is in how you tell that story. It’s something like that. I’m a
“writer” at the moment. Once someone pays me to do this shit, I’ll look into it
I’m a continuity
nerd. I’m the kid that noticed the strange flip-flopping of Marty McFly’s
jacket in Back to the Future. Or that
in the end of Across the Universe the
cops standing outside the recording studio inexplicably have batons in one
shot, then don’t in another. 
Apparently these cops
were also magicians.
something else that I’ve noticed though, and it’s the striking similarity some
actors have to characters that they played in other films or TV shows. Like
freakishly similar.
Take for
Married to Lonestar.
Best President in the
history of everything.
Let’s ignore the
fact that I somehow managed to find two pictures of Mary McDonnell with two
strapping young white males standing immediately to her left. The latter being
more strapping than the first because I wanted to look like Jamie Bamber the
instant I saw him on this show.
The similarities
of McDonnell’s characters, in this case First Lady and President of the
Colonies respectively, are pretty apparent right off the bat. Political office,
both science fiction franchises, and both are against alien forces that
seemingly overwhelm the human population.
Diving deeper,
you’ve got to admit that she looks strikingly similar in both pictures. Maybe
that’s just a good color for Ms. McDonnell. I mean she’s an older lady I
wouldn’t mind having a shot with. And you can’t do THAT much to change your
appearance from film to film. I mean, Bill Pullman looks almost identical in
every film he makes.
But it’s the
characters themselves that seem to be tied on a much deeper level. In Independence Day, she’s a stubborn President’s
wife that refuses to listen to her husband despite the impending danger. She
stands up to her man basically.
Now, in BSG, she’s a member of the Presidential
cabinet that has just found out she’s dying of cancer. When she’s sworn into
office, she stands her ground against Commander Adama and tells him basically
that even though they’re at war, the government will still exist and will stand
up to the military. Again, she stands up to her man.
In both
instances, she is a powerful, strong woman that has her own thoughts and will
not be overrun by the main man in her life. 
She wears the much more
stylish pants of the relationship.
Maybe. Probably. Or just casting a very specific type of actress for a very
specific type of role.
There’s one
other thing: she dies in both Independence
and BSG. With her lover by
her side. In a way that the doctors try to stop but can’t.
Did the Twilight Zone music just start playing
in your mind? Because it should have.
Like I said
above, there’s probably a reason that McDonnell ended up as this role in both
franchises. Ron Moore has openly said that the roles of Roslin and Adama were
specifically written for the actors that portrayed them. So maybe he saw Independence Day and then when writing BSG, Moore couldn’t get the image of her
character out of his head.
It is weird that
McDonnell could draw some sort of weird continuity line between Roslin and
First Lady Whitmore. Somehow they’re genealogically connected and their fashion
sense survived the Colonists from BSG
integrating into Earth’s primitive culture. Maybe that’s just wishful thinking.
Then again maybe
I have another celebrity crush. That list seems to grow by the day. 
Though her “husband” will always be the owner of my first “broner”. Ed. I wish I’d never heard that word.

Dan Ingram works in television and has his Master’s in Screenwriting from New York Film Academy. He likes his ladies aged like a fine wine.