from the Grand Canyon Press Kit:
Mary McDonnell, who was nominated for an Academy Award this year for her performance in “Dances With Wolves,” plays Mack’s wife Claire in “Grand Canyon.” “What interested me when I first read the script,” she says, “was that Larry [Kasdan] is telling a story about all of us, and he leaves it very raw. The characters are pretty naked, but they’re naked without being melodramatic or tragic. I think that often we try to make drama out of our lives, but our lives are fairly dramatic as it is. Larry understands that.
“I love Claire because she’s a woman who, during the course of the story, develops a clearer vision of what’s happening around her and has to come to terms with that. One of the things that helped me flesh out Claire was a conversation I had with Meg [Kasdan] long before we had even begun to rehearse. It was wonderful having a woman available with whom I could discuss the interior life of the character I was playing. I also spent a lot of time observing her with her sons when they would visit the set. I learned a lot about what it was like having a son.”
Mary’s bio page:
Obie Award-winning actress Mary McDonnell was nominated this year for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Stands With a Fist in Kevin Costner’s “Dances With Wolves.” For her performance as a white woman adopted at an early age and raised by the Sioux, she also earned the 1991 Movie Award as well as a Golden Globe nomination.
Equally at home working in films and the theatre, McDonnell starred last summer on Broadway in the title role of Wendy Wasserstein’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play “The Heidi Chronicles.” Her most recent stage performance, as the lead in Darrah Cloud’s adaptation of Willa Cather’s “Oh, Pioneers!”, was filmed for American Playhouse and aired on PBS in May of this year.
McDonnell grew up in Ithaca, New York, and attended the State University of New York-Fredonia, where she first studied acting. She numbers among her film roles the boarding house owner Elma Radnor in John Sayles’ acclaimed “Matewan” and Paula Warsaw, opposite Patrick Swayze, in “Tiger Warsaw.”
In the last twelve years, McDonnell has played a wide variety of leading roles both on and off-Broadway and in many of the country’s most renowned regional theatres. Her New York debut was in the role of Shelly in the premiere of Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Buried Child.” She has worked steadily ever since, playing the classic heroines of Ibsen, Shakespeare and Chekhov, while originating roles in the works of some of the theatre’s most prestigious contemporary playwrights.
McDonnell’s stage credits include the New York premieres of John Patrick Shanley’s “Savage in Limbo,” John O’Keefe’s “All Night Long,” Michael Cristofer’s “Black Angel,” Kathleen Tolan’s “A Weekend Near Madison,” Casey Kurtti’s “Three Way Home,” Paula Ciznar’s “Death of a Miner,” Rose Goldenberg’s “Letters From Home” (playing Sylvia Plath), Emily Mann’s “Still Life” (for which she won an Obie in 1981) and Dennis McIntyre’s “National Anthem,” which premiered two years ago at the Long Wharf Theatre starring McDonnell and Tom Berenger.
Television audiences will recognize the actress from her starring role opposite Elliot Gould in the CBS situation comedy “E.R.,” and the television films “Courage” with Sophia Loren and “Money on the Side.”
McDonnell will soon start production on “Sneakers,” starring Robert Redford and directed by Phil Alden Robinson.