In Part I of our interview with Mary McDonnell, she discussed the evolution of the relationships between the characters on Major Crimes, and how that on-screen familiarity has translated cinto a true off-screen camaraderie with her cast and crew. The strong behind-the-scenes friendships have been more valuable than ever this season, as the cast and crew have had to balance their longest season ever with their personal lives. It seems fitting then that balance has been revealed to be the theme of season five of Major Crimes, as in Part II of our interview, McDonnell reveals her own challenges in balancing the personal and professional halves of Sharon Raydor’s life. McDonnell herself has worked to find balance between bringing Captain Raydor to the screen, and continuing to deepen her commitment to her other passions, and for the first time discusses her charity work with Sinte Gleska University, a tribal college on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota, which she first became aware of during the filming of Dances with Wolves.
Four years into her journey of playing Captain Sharon Raydor, McDonnell says her focus this season is ensuring that Raydor does not become complacent in her position now that she’s achieved stability and success within her role as the head of the Major Crimes division. “My biggest challenge right now is in finding ways to deepen her commitment to the workplace when sometimes the writing may or may not indicate that. She is discovering I think, the more she keeps this job, the more she likes it. And the closer she gets to the individuals she’s working with, the more she feels like this is the right place to be. And yet, she could retire. She has different things that have been offered to her. So it’s a very interesting thing for me, the actress, to focus Sharon’s mind into the work in a way that’s really fascinating and deeper. For me to help Sharon ask some bigger questions of herself, and find better ways to get the job done more quickly and more profoundly.”
While viewers have often commented on Raydor’s absence from the initial crime scenes, McDonnell says that is a conscious choice on the part of the writers. However, she notes that not being present for those scenes often confronts her with an additional challenge in how she is able to approach accessing the emotions of her character without that essential first encounter with the victim. “Sharon not being present at the crime scene is very accurate from what her position would be, and it balances out our ensemble in a very healthy manner, by giving Lt. Provenza the opportunity to utilize his position and longevity to run the crime scene, while she runs the division. But as an actress, not being viscerally present at the crime scenes – not walking through them, not being the first responder, not having the action sequences and the heart pounding, car chasing moments – as an actress then you have to fill that in. You have to fill in the connection to your victim, and your commitment to finding the perpetrator. You have to fill in your connection to the victimized, and the families.” Continue reading →
Residents of Chicago and surrounding areas, don’t miss your chance to meet Mary McDonnell next weekend at the Chicago Comic atand Entertainment Expo (C2E2), March 18-20, 2016 at McCormick Place Convention Center.
McDonnell will be appearing as a media guest at the event, and will be participating in two Q&A panel discussions, as well as in autograph and photo op sessions throughout the weekend.
On Saturday, McDonnell and her former Battlestar Galactica costar Edward James Olmos will participate in a Q&A session about their time on that show. At a featured solo panel on Sunday, McDonnell will discuss her current role as Captain Sharon Raydor on Major Crimes as well as other roles in her career.
Proceeds from McDonnell’s appearance at C2E2 will benefit Sinte Gleska University.
Four seasons into TNT’s hit series Major Crimes, viewers have developed a personal connection to the LAPD’s fiercely loyal Captain in the same way that her detectives have developed a devotion to her. For Raydor, family extends beyond the people with whom she shares bloodlines or family names. For Mary McDonnell, the chance to portray a woman of equal emotional and intellectual strength and integrity is a source of joy for her as an actress.
When we spoke to McDonnell several weeks ago, season four of Major Crimes was just completing filming, and she was effusive about the season experience as a whole, and the people who have become her on-set family. She notes that this season’s super-sized episode order has allowed the team behind Major Crimes to have more creative liberty. “It takes a tremendous amount of energy and focus to keep the quality of the show high. I feel pleased by what we were able to do, because I don’t think that the quality dropped out at all. And knowing that gives us all a great sense of fulfillment.”
Despite the intensity of long work days and a 23-episode season, the longest of any TNT series to date, McDonnell says the tone on set and among the cast remained positive. “There was a very strong sense of ensemble this year, more than ever before; there were people working together easily, quickly, economically, and enjoying it. It had a wonderful feeling of familiarity and professional respect down there on the floor and a great appreciation for the continuing workplace. Everyone appreciates it, the cast, the crew. There are a lot of us on that floor every day, and to keep going with the flow, and knowing we’re coming back again, gives everyone a great sense of security.” Continue reading →
Phoenix Comicon attendees got a special treat this past weekend, when Mary McDonnell, Phillip Keene and Stacey K. Black got together to chat about Major Crimes to a packed room of fans.
Check out the video of the panel below! And remember, Major Crimes season 4 premieres Monday, June 8th at 9pm/8c on TNT!
Thanks to Phoenix Comicon for helping make this special event come together. And special thanks to all the fans who attended and helped support Major Crimes as well supporting Sinte Gleska University via purchases at Mary McDonnell’s table at the event.
On August 30th, 2014 Dragon*Con hosted the very first Major Crimes panel featuring Mary McDonnell and Jonathan Del Arco at their annual science-fiction, fantasy and pop culture convention in Atlanta, GA. We’re pleased to present the full video of that panel, courtesy of Dragon*Con Media. Special thanks to the Dragon*Con videography team for providing this footage.
Photo credit: Justin Stephens. Courtesy TNT, used with permission
It’s all quiet on the set of Major Crimes as Captain Sharon Raydor, played by Mary McDonnell, tries to come to terms with what her foster son, Rusty Beck, has just told her. Long estranged from her husband, Raydor has tolerated his occasional comings and goings for many years. But when his actions threaten to do serious harm to the trust she has so carefully built with Rusty over the past two years, it’s clear that Jackson Raydor may have finally gone too far.
Over several takes, McDonnell gives different glimpses into the complicated relationship with her character’s husband, and Raydor’s varying reactions to it. What doesn’t change is the fierce loyalty and protectiveness Raydor shows towards the boy she already considers her son, and the clear message that Sharon Raydor is a force to be reckoned with when those she loves are threatened.
As she sits down with MajorCrimesTV.net for a chat after the scene is done filming, it quickly becomes clear that like her on-screen persona, for McDonnell, family– in whatever form it comes– is key. Whether it is the family you are born into, the family that you adopt along the way, or the family that is forged out of difficult circumstances, McDonnell recognizes that family can have the largest and most resounding impact on a person.
When Captain Sharon Raydor first marched into the murder room on The Closer, audiences and fellow officers of the Major Crimes division alike bristled at the seemingly tough-as-nails and emotionless new officer, and on both sides of the screen she quickly became known by the moniker “Darth Raydor”. Now as Major Crimes enters its third season, McDonnell credits the relationship between her character and foster son Rusty Beck as the catalyst that helped make the transition between the two shows occur flawlessly, allowing the greater depth of Sharon Raydor to be revealed. “In my mind it’s kind of a genius element to this,” McDonnell says. “Because James [Duff] has this ability to understand, seemingly out of the blue, what is needed. And when he thought up this Rusty character and saw Graham [Patrick Martin], he understood that this could be our connecting object into the new series. It relieved us from having to force Sharon Raydor this way or that way, because he knew that through this personal relationship he could expose her as a human without her having to give up her Darth Raydor.” McDonnell laughs. “I did not want to give up Darth Raydor.”