It’s been a busy year for Mary McDonnell, and even the most dedicated fans may have had a hard time keeping up given how fast Twitter moves these days! As 2015 draws to a close, let’s take a look at some of the highlights from the year.
- The Cherry Orchard: 2015 saw Mary’s return to stage after a 17-year break focusing on film and television. Emily Mann’s adaptation of Anton Chekov’s The Cherry Orchard ran from February 11 through March 8 at People’s Light Theater in Malvern, Pennsylvania. Mary starred as Lyubov Andreyevna Ranevskaya alongside longtime scene partner David Straithairn and, for the first time, her real-life daughter Olivia Mell. “I feel tremendous gratitude about the whole thing,” she said at the time. “I am more clear every year about how short life is, so to have this opportunity to play alongside my child makes this an extra special event.” The play, and Mary in particular, received rave reviews.
Mary McDonnell and David Straithairn in The Cherry Orchard
- Major Crimes: 2015 marked Mary’s 7th year in her Emmy-nominated role as Captain Sharon Raydor as Major Crimes finished its third season in January and returned for season four in June. The season has been broken up into three parts – the summer season, the winter season, and starting in February, the five-part finale. Season four, extended twice for a total of 23 episodes, remains one of TNT’s highest rated shows and retains a passionate fanbase, an interactive cast and crew, and – as always – a captivating leading lady. When asked about the show’s continuing success, showrunner James Duff credited Mary as “[having] such a centered view of where she stands inside all this […] That center, I think, has become a gravitational force in our show.”
Mary with Team BAM on the set of Major Crimes
- Conventions: Past and present collided at Phoenix Comic Con in May, where Mary appeared as a guest with former Battlestar Galactica co-stars Edward James Olmos and Katee Sackhoff as well as Major Crimes co-star Phillip P. Keene and director/hairstylist Stacey K. Black. Along with signing autographs and taking photos with fans, she participated in panels where she discussed both shows, charity work, fan interaction, and her different experiences on stage, television, and the big screen. “I couldn’t understand why there were all these actors everywhere doing things while I was talking – I mean honestly, it was my line!” she admitted about her first week of rehearsing The Cherry Orchard. “My daughter […] pointed out to me, ‘Mom, for 20 years when it’s time for you to talk the whole sound stage goes silent. You’re just getting used to reality again.’”
Mary with EJO, SKB, and PPK at Phoenix Comic Con
- Causes and Charities: Mary and her fans continued to work closely with Sinte Gleska University. Through the fan-run organization MaryCares, over $14,700 was raised this year alone through t-shirt sales, their annual birthday fundraiser, and a one-day fall fundraiser in October. This is on top of the proceeds from Mary’s convention appearances, which also went to the university. Upon being selected to host the Made in Hollywood Honors, she became involved in promoting the Ocean Park Community Center; she already had a connection to the OPCC through her role as a producer on the short film Play Date, which donated a percentage of all proceeds to the organization that dedicates itself to “provid[ing] highly effective, fully integrated services to the most traumatized, vulnerable, and needy members of our community.” Mary also lent her support as well as her voice as narrator to the short documentary “Menkes Disease: Finding Help and Hope,” which seeks to raise awareness about a rare and often fatal genetic disorder, and continued to support Savannah and Seattle by auctioning off a dinner with herself and BSG co-star Edward James Olmos with all proceeds going to their medical care.
- Awards and Honors: Mary’s return to the stage in The Cherry Orchard was greeted with praise from audiences and critics alike, and she was recognized with a nomination for the Barrymore Award’s Outstanding Leading Actress in a Play. Shortly after, it was announced that she had been selected to host the Made in Hollywood Honors, which seeks to recognize and promote films and television productions made in Hollywood at a time when many media productions are expanding beyond the Los Angeles area. Finally, in November, Mary was honored by the Palm Springs Women in Film and Television with a Broken Glass Award, which acknowledges women who “have not only succeeded in their respective crafts, but who have helped others along the way.” Mary was joined by her family, friends, and past and present colleagues as she accepted the award, in which she thanked the women who have inspired her and her fellow recipients and recognized that “these ceilings will be a little bit more visible to me after this day.”
Mary with friends and costars at the Broken Glass Awards
- Family: Olivia Mell starred alongside her mother in The Cherry Orchard and was well received – reviews described her as “glowing” and “lovely” as Anya – but perhaps the best indicator of her success is her upcoming return to People’s Light Theater, where she will play Lucy Steele in Sense and Sensibility beginning in February. Her music career also continues to flourish, as does her brother Michael’s – the two have performed together in addition to pursuing solo gigs with their respective bands.
Olivia and Michael Mell, bringing the house down!
- Future: The final five episodes of season four of Major Crimes will air beginning in February, and season five, which has been picked up for 13 episodes (so far!) will return in the summer. Mary will once again be joining Edward James Olmos for a convention in March 2016, this time in Chicago – we look forward to seeing you there, and bringing you plenty of news and pictures from the event! 2016 will see the 10th annual MaryCares fundraiser, which promises to be fruitful and fun. Mary has also hinted at a mysterious project that she is “in the process of developing […] and hoping to produce” – more to come on that subject, we trust!
As exciting a year as it has been for Mary, it has been just as exciting for her fans, and especially for us here at MostlyMary. Since relaunching the site last month we have had over 16,000 page views, reached 600 “Likes” on Facebook, and are closing in on 800 Twitter followers. We have received wonderful support from the Mary fan community and have had such a great time sharing news and media and coming up with fun and fresh ways to reinvent the site. In 2016, we expect to continue with features such as essays, interviews, and interactive activities; we look forward to engaging with all of you who have made 2015 so successful, and extend our deepest thanks and best wishes for a happy new year to each and every one of you!