How ‘Dances With Wolves’ Actress Almost Lost Famous Role
Watch the video How ‘Dances With Wolves’ Actress Almost Lost Famous Role on Yahoo Celebrity . Mary McDonnell currently stars on TNT’s “Major Crimes,” but more than 20 years ago she played alongside Kevin Costner in the 1990 flick “Dances With Wolves.” Mary reminisces about how she almost rejected the role, and tells us what Native American name she was given on set. She also explains why people should tune in to her television drama this season.
"I do believe that I won the part in Matewan because halfway through my callback audition, I stepped on the casting woman’s dog, and I screamed so loudly and so freely, and then just made it part of the audition. And I think that John was so tickled with that, that he said, “I’ll work with her. She’s a good sport.” You know how he has that little quiet giggle? I heard that and I thought, “Should I stop or keep going?” But I thought “He seems like a ‘Keep going’ kind of dude.” And I honestly think that’s why I got it.
But it was an absolutely thrilling experience. And here was my first, “Oh my God, John Sayles is not like anyone else” moment: I’m sure people have told you that a couple of weeks prior to shooting, you receive a veritable tome in the mail. You get a description of your character, and their background, and their ideas, and their socio-political placement in the world. All in beautifully drawn detail. You’d try to go searching for that yourself, but it was beautiful the way John did it, because he wrote it. So you understand that your imaginary background is actually going to be the same as his. Whew! What a luxury that is, you know what I mean? So when you’re working with him, you don’t get any of this “Well, I thought she was…Well, I was thinking she was…” You know exactly what he was thinking. And I loved it, sitting by myself in my apartment in New York in the morning with my coffee, rereading the background and then looking at the script. He just taught me so much for my first time out in front of the camera. That was a real gift.
And then just being down there in West Virginia—where we shot was just a half a street, really, with houses on one side, and a railroad track, and nothing on the other side. I can still feel it. I can still smell it. I can still hear the train whistle. I can feel the late Autumn sun going down and that kind of Indian summer feeling. It was absolutely magical. I guess what I’m trying to say is it wasn’t hard to believe the imaginary circumstances. And John brings great designers and his own brilliant mind and creates a world. But he doesn’t infuse the world with Hollywood. He doesn’t bring the consciousness of Hollywood onto the set. So you don’t have any trouble believing that you’re in West Virginia in 1920. And I do think that’s unusual.”
Exhibit 1+2: a farewell cupcake my colleague made…
Exhibit 3: me, drunk and somewhat blonde…
Exhibit 4: my room. A friend of mine said it looks like a Mexican shrine… Whatever that means. And yes, it’s Laura Roslin on my wall.
Why did I just post it? No idea - these are the sort-of new things in my life.
I’ve never seen that photo of Laura Roslin! Can you scan that an share it?
Mary McDonnell attends Variety & Women In Film Pre-Emmy Event on September 20, 2013 in Beverly Hills.
Mary McDonnell and Sarah Paulson at Entertainment Weekly’s Pre-Emmy Party on September 20, 2013 in West Hollywood, California.
Actress Mary McDonnell attends Variety & Women In Film Pre-Emmy Event presented by Yoplait Greek at Scarpetta on September 20, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California.