Mary Eileen McDonnell (born April 28, 1952) is an American film, stage, and television actress. She received an Academy Award nomination for her role as Stands With A Fist in Dances with Wolves, and she is also very well known for her performance as President Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica, the President's wife in Independence Day, and for her starring role in Donnie Darko as the title character's mother.
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 which she worked for over 20 years. McDonnell is married to Randle Mell, who is also an actor. They have two children, Olivia and Michael. In a question and answer session for the SyFy Channel regarding her role as Laura Roslin, she was asked if any of her character's political views caused her any discomfort because of her own views. She stated that several of the things her character did in Season Three of Battlestar Galactica "(ran) deeply against being a liberal progressive" and that portraying those views sometimes caused her "a bit of angst in having to commit to them."
She won an Obie in 1980 for her work in the play Still Life. On Broadway, she has performed in productions of Execution of Justice, The Heidi Chronicles, and Summer and Smoke.