The towering presence of this Canadian character actor is not often noticed, but his contributions are legendary. He has been in almost a hundred and fifty different show and films. He is also the father of renowned actor Kiefer Sutherland.
Born in New Brunswick, Sutherland worked several different jobs - he was a radio DJ in his youth - and was almost set on becoming an engineer after graduating from the University of Toronto with a degree in engineering. However, he also graduated with a degree in drama, and he chose to abandon becoming an engineer in favour of an actor.
Sutherland's first roles were bit parts and consisted of such films as the horror film Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965) which starred Christopher Lee. He was also appearing in episodes of TV shows such as "The Saint" and "Court Martial". Sutherland's break would come soon, though, and it would come in the form of a war film in which he was barely cast.
The reason he was barely cast was because he had been a last-minute replacement for an actor that had dropped out of the film. The role he played was that of the dopey but loyal Vernon Pinkley in the war film The Dirty Dozen (1967). The film also starred Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson, and Telly Savalas. The picture was an instant success as an action/war film, and Sutherland played upon this success by taking another role in a war film: this was, however, a comedy called MASH (1970) which landed Sutherland the starring role alongside Elliott Gould and Tom Skerritt. This is now considered a classic among film goers, and the 35-year old actor was only getting warmed up.
Sutherland took a number of other roles in between these two films, such as the theatrical adaptation Oedipus the King (1968), the musical Joanna (1968) and the Clint Eastwood-helmed war comedy Kelly's Heroes (1970). It was Kelly's Heroes (1970) that became more well-known, and it reunited Sutherland with Telly Savalas. 1970 and 1971 offered Sutherland a number of other films, the best of them would have to be Klute (1971). The film, which made Jane Fonda a star, is about a prostitute whose friend is mysteriously murdered. Sutherland received no critical acclaim like his co-star Fonda (she won an Oscar) but his career did not fade.
Moving on from Klute (1971), Sutherland landed roles such as the lead in the thriller Lady Ice (1973), and another lead in the western Alien Thunder (1974). These films did not match up to "Klute"'s success, though Sutherland took a supporting role that would become one of his most infamous and most critically acclaimed. He played the role of the murderous fascist leader in the Bernardo Bertolucci Italian epic 1900 (1976). Sutherland also gained another memorable role as a marijuana-smoking university professor in Animal House (1978) among other work that he did in this time.
Another classic role came in the form of the Robert Redford film, Ordinary People (1980). Sutherland portrays an older father figure who must deal with his children in an emotional drama of a film. It won Best Picture, and while both the supporting stars were nominated for Oscars, Sutherland once again did not receive any Academy Award nomination. He moved on to play a Nazi spy in a film based on Ken Follett's book "Eye of the Needle" and he would star alongside Al Pacino in the commercial and critical disaster that was Revolution (1985). While it drove Al Pacino out of films for four years, Sutherland continued to find work. This work led to the dramatic, well-told story of apartheid A Dry White Season (1989) alongside the legendary actor Marlon Brando.
Sutherland's next big success came in the Oliver Stone film JFK (1991) where Sutherland plays the chilling role of Mister X, an anonymous source who gives crucial information about the politics surrounding President Kennedy. Once again, he was passed over at the Oscars, though Tommy Lee Jones was nominated for his performance as Clay Shaw. Sutherland went on to appear in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992), Shadow of the Wolf (1992), and Disclosure (1994).
The new millennium provided an interesting turn in Sutherland's career: reuniting with such former collaborators as Clint Eastwood and Tommy Lee Jones, Sutherland starred in Space Cowboys (2000). He also appeared as the father figure to Nicole Kidman's character in Cold Mountain (2003) and Charlize Theron's character in The Italian Job (2003). He has also made a fascinating, Oscar-worthy performance as the revolutionist Mr. Thorne in Land of the Blind (2006) and also as a judge in Reign Over Me (2007). Recently, he has joined forces with his son Rossif Sutherland and Canadian comic [error] with the new comedy The Con Artist (2010), as well as acting alongside Jamie Bell and Channing Tatum in the sword-and-sandal film The Eagle (2011). Sutherland has also taken a role in the remake of Charles Bronson's film The Mechanic (1972).
Donald Sutherland has made a lasting legacy on Hollywood, whether portraying a chilling and horrifying villain, or playing the older respectable character in his films. A true character actor, Sutherland is one of Canada's most well-known names and will hopefully continue on being so long after his time.
|Francine Racette||(August 1990 - present) 3 children|
|Shirley Douglas||(1966 - 1970) (divorced) 2 children|
|Lois Hardwick||(1959 - 1966) (divorced)|
Reddish-brown, curly hair
Adds a touch of eccentricity (sometimes much more than a touch) to each role
Rich, mellifluous voice
Grew up in the town of Bridgewater, Nova Scotia, where he also graduated from high school.
His first part-time job was as a news correspondent for local radio station, CKBW.
Graduated from University of Toronto.
Was a member of "UC Follies" comedy troupe in Toronto.
[29 February 2000] Radio interview with Michael Enright on Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's "This Morning".
In addition to an on-screen bit part as a computer scientist in Billion Dollar Brain (1967), he also provided the mechanical voice for the eponymous "brain".
He was featured in the computer game Conspiracy (digitised video and sound).
Former son-in-law of Tommy Douglas.
In 2003, twice played a character who dies who was the father of a young woman, in Cold Mountain (2003) and The Italian Job (2003). Both actresses (Nicole Kidman and Charlize Theron) were nominated for Best Actress (although Theron was nominated for Monster (2003) and not her role in The Italian Job (2003).
Even though he receives top billing in The Day of the Locust (1975), he doesn't appear in the film for the first 42 minutes.
By the time he was 14, he had become a radio DJ.
Being very tall, Sutherland has long since had a habit of slouching over so he could meet other actors eye to eye.
Has two roles in common with Alan Alda. Sutherland played Flan in Six Degrees of Separation (1993), the role Alda played in an audio-book publication. Sutherland also played Hawkeye Pierce in MASH (1970), the role Alda played in "M*A*S*H" (1972).
Made two guest appearances on "The Saint" (1962), playing two different characters.
He was awarded an O.C. (Officer of the Order of Canada) on December 18, 1978 for his services to drama.
Had a near-death experience in 1979 when he was ill with meningitis. Doctors told him he had died for a time, and he claims to have had an out-of-body experience.
Between 1958 and 1960, he went to England and studied acting at the London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art (LAMDA).
His great-grandmother through male line was a third cousin of President Rutherford Birchard Hayes.
Is distantly related to the former Governor of Vermont, Howard Dean.
Is a huge fan of his son Kiefer's TV show "24" (2001). He never misses an episode.
Was so shocked by his own performance as the sadistic, perverse fascist leader in 1900, that he was unable to watch the film for years.
Originally wanted to be a sculptor, but decided to be an actor after witnessing people praise a drawing of Churchill that he thought was awful (he realized he couldn't make art to please other people). He had never attended a theater performance, and still hadn't when he received his first role. Thus he was behind the proscenium arch before ever having been in front of it.
Prefers to shoot the opening scenes of a movie last in order to better set the tone of the movie to the audience.
Although several sources list that he and Francine Racette were married in 1974, Donald stated in a May 2000 London Daily Mail article that they did not marry until August 1990. They met in 1974 and lived together for 16 years.
Achieved cinematic fame in two completely different and contrasting war films. One was the cynical, edgy, sarcastic Korean War comedy MASH (1970), and the other was the gritty, action packed, violent World War II action film The Dirty Dozen (1967).
Is a fan of "24" (2001), and never misses an episode. He declined an offer to play Jack's father, Philip, in the show's sixth season.
Lives in Santa Monica, California.
His son, Kiefer Sutherland, appeared in Stand by Me (1986), based on a short story by Stephen King. Donald later appeared in _Salem's Lot (2004)(TV)_. Donald has himself appeared in two Michael Crichton adaptations: The Great Train Robbery (1978) and Disclosure (1994), while is other son Rossif Sutherland appears in Timeline (2003).
Was offered the role of Wyatt Earp in Doctor Who: The Gunfighters but was not free so John Alderson took the role.
Partook in the opening ceremony of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver as the voice-over narrator describing the history of Canada and was also one of the flag bearers of the Olympic flag.
In the "making of" documentary for the Dirty Dozen Special Edition DVD, Sutherland says the was one of the "last dozen", meaning he wasn't going to have many lines. However when they were preparing to film the scene where Major Risman (Lee Marvin) had to convince Col. Breed (Robert Ryan) that a general was among them, it was supposed to be Posey (Clint Walker). However Walker refused to do the scene so director Robert Aldrich picked Sutherland to do the scene. After that, Sutherland's part was expanded a bit more. "the Dirty Dozen" is credited with helping Sutherland get more attention from film makers, thus launching his career. According to Sutherland, sometime later, Robert Aldrich asked him to be in another movie but Sutherland declined. He says in the documentary that turning down Aldrich was one of his greatest regrets as an actor as he felt he owed Aldrich for helping to launch his career.
He graduated college with a double in Engineering and Drama. He had originally intended to become an Engineer before trying Acting.
He and his son Kiefer have both played played artist Paul Gauguin.
Pauline Kael reviewed The Day of the Locust (1975): "There's nothing specifically wrong with Donald Sutherland's performance. It's just awful. That was the most destructive, stupid piece of criticism I've ever received. I stopped reading reviews after that.
I was up for a great part but they told me: "Sorry, you're the best actor but this part calls for a guy-next-door type. You don't look as if you've ever lived next door to anyone."
When you're working for a good director, you become subjective and submissive. You become his concubine. All that you're seeking is his pleasure.
Frank Lloyd Wright designed the house I was living in. From what I understood, he was having an affair with the wife of the man he was designing the house for. That man was very tall. So Wright, short and vain, designs the house in such a way that a tall person couldn't live in it without severe cranial damage. I hit my head *all* the time.
[on his early roles] Well, I was always cast as an artistic homicidal maniac. But at least I was artistic!
[on Jane Fonda] Jane's person is more specific than most of us. She's well disciplined and knows what she wants and where she's going and works objectively to apply all her information to that intention. With Jane, the character and force is embodied in her persona and it's a lovely, delicate and self-deprecating human.
[on Julie Christie] Julie has such a wonderful film presence and fulfills everything I admire in a performer in that she -- more specifically than almost anyone else -- works for the director and recognizes that the film is created by the director in the way Jeanne Moreau did for Louis Malle.
Jennifer Lawrence is as good an actress as you're going to find anywhere. (In The Hunger Games (2012)) she's playing a character who's a genius in the Shavian sense that Joan of Arc was a genius. And she does it with such clarity. It's incredible to see how clearly that character develops.
|Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965)||£1,000|
|Steelyard Blues (1973)||$100,000|
|Animal House (1978)||$40,000|
(June 2007) Los Angeles, California
(April 2010) Filming Man on the Train (2011) (Remake of 2002 french film _L'homme du train (1923)_) in Orangeville, Ontario Canada.
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