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NOCC: Mary McDonnell Q&A

Company: Wizard World
Product: New Orleans Comic Con 2012 Coverage

Mary McDonnell, known most recently for her roles as President Laura Roslin in Battlestar Galactica and Captain Sharon Raydor in The Closer, was at the 2012 New Orleans Comic Con and her Q&A session touched on everything from her many roles to her family life.

Before starting off the session, she thanked a few of the audience members for gifts that were given to her. One such gift was a pin showing President Obama looking at a portrait of Roslin asking "What Would Laura Roslin Do?" McDonnell also pointed out some of her most devoted followers named Mary's Girls. This collection of fans have been following the actress since the early days of BSG and have grown over the years to about 40 members. A few of these ladies were in the audience and she praised them for their efforts in raising money for the different charities McDonnell has supported over the years.

The questions started off with McDonnell being asked what aspects of Battlestar Galactica she wished had been answered. Interestingly enough, when many fans would touch on some of the plot lines that were left a little tattered, she spoke of wondering what kind of mother Roslin would have been if she was given that chance.

McDonell was also praised for her roles in Dances with Wolves and Independence Day and was asked to talk some about the spin-off series from The Closer that she will be involved in.

"The rumors are true. Captain Raydor is at the center of an ensemble that will include most of the people from The Closer, and we start shooting this Friday [February 3, 2012]," McDonnell said, to the excitement of her audience.

The subject then changed to talk about some of McDonnell's favorite roles. When asked about playing the wheelchair-bound soap opera star, May-Alice Culhane, in Passion Fish, she explained how much that movie helped get her over a fear of becoming handicapped. She also touched on a role she played on stage. She explained that, while many of her characters and lines leave her when she is done playing them, while watching the play "A Doll's House," written by Henrik Ibsen, she was amazed by how well the character of Nora and her lines came back to her.

"This little compartment in my brain opened up and that character came flooding out and I was amazed she was still there," McDonnell said.

One audience member asked McDonnell, "Which issues in Battlestar Galactica really hit home for you." McDonnell replied by remembering an episode where Roslin had to make a decision about killing one of the characters in the show. She explained that while the regular occurrence of "air locking" characters was something she could see her character handling, especially with it being removed and being able to turn away, when she had to make Roslin make such a cold, but necessary decision, she felt like it was a sledge hammer hitting her chest. She felt it was clear and direct and having to actually say those lines was really tough for her.

McDonnell explained that Roslin really helped her understand the position that any leader is in. While she might have gotten angry and vocal about a leader's choice in the past, playing the character she did on BSG really gave her a new perspective and respect for those in power. While she might not always like the decisions they make, she has a better understanding of how hard those choices are.

McDonnell also explained that she felt like the toughest episodes to perform were the ones were Roslin had a hard decision to make and she felt like the best decision she could make, the one she felt was right for the people, was the one they didn't feel was right. Of course, a lot of these scenes also had Roslin fighting cancer and portraying those hard scenes was tough enough, but bringing that extra layer into the mix really made those episodes harder to do.

The Q&A session wrapped up with questions about how her children were doing and what the high and low points in her career have been. McDonnell's son is working to become a musician, while she believes her daughter has become quite a talented singer. She is currently putting together her first cabaret act in New York City.

As for the high and low points, McDonnell recounted a role she played early on where she was beaten and bruised, but was expecting the camera to make several trips around her. The camera only made one pass and she spent a long time in her role trying to hold onto the scene while she waited for the next pass, only to find out several minutes later that everybody had stopped for lunch, but had not told her. As for high points; she believes that she has been overrun with, and blessed by, getting really good roles and material. She really couldn't nail down any singular high point.

Unfortunately, McDonnell's Q&A session was cut short because the previous speaker, William Shatner, ran longer than expected. So, with much derision from the crowd, McDonnell wrapped up her discussion, but reminded everyone to go and see her at her booth.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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