08 November 2010

Donald Sutherland

The Basics:

Donald Sutherland, Canadian by birth, was born to Frederick and Dorothy Sutherland in 1934, in Saint John, New Brunswick. Following an education at the University Of Toronto, Sutherland studied at the London Academy Of Music And Dramatic Arts in the late 1950s and subsequently played a number of small roles in horror films and thrillers. As his career progressed, Sutherland's roles became more complex, with the result that by 2000 Donald Sutherland had become a most respected actor, with many major films to his name, and a career that has stood the test of time. Nowadays, as well as major film roles, Sutherland hosts television shows and has even appeared in music videos.

The Beginnings:

Of course, returning to the very beginnings of Sutherland's career, these initial roles are in no way to be ignored. Look where they got him! With a penchant for the sinister, lanky type, Sutherland's physical appearance lent a certain disturbing quality to his roles. Tall, gawky and with, it has to be said, rather googly eyeballs, Sutherland was perfect for initial roles such as Bob Carroll in the luridly-titled Dr Terror's House Of Horrors, or Joseph in the intriguingly-named Die! Die! My Darling!. Following a modest career boost in The Dirty Dozen, Sutherland's real big break came with the 1970 film M*A*S*H, in which Sutherland took the role of surgeon Hawkeye Pierceand, in the process, discovered that not all films are cheap horror flicks that give away the entire plot in the title.


Following this, Donald Sutherland, it has to be said, attained stardom. His mainstream successes were mixed with more peculiar film ventures, often verging on the politically volatile. Co-starring with Jane Fonda in the popular thriller Klute (1971) seemed like a good career move, but going on to write, produce, direct and star in an anti-Vietnam war film (FTA, 1972) may, at the time, have seemed less sensible. Then again, the graphic sex of Don't Look Now may well have drowned out any controversy from his previous ventures. Even if such things weren't shocking enough for the late 70s, the brutish, ruthless characters depicted by Sutherland in The Day Of The Locust and 1900 were guaranteed to attract peoples attention. I'm reliably informed, though I've yet to see it for myself, that his appearance as a pot smoking professor in Animal House is well worth witnessing.

The Eighties And Onwards:

It was in the seventies that Sutherland really came into his own, though he remained a respected and popular actor right through to his more recent films. Playing the father in 1980's Ordinary People, and a Nazi spy in Eye Of The Needle continued Sutherland's propensity for creepy roles, and though his eye seems drawn more to smaller roles, evinced in such films as Lock Up and Backdraft, Sutherland is remembered fondly for his mainstream, well-known roles just as much as his more obscure film outings: playing Wilhelm Reich in Kate Bush's video for her song Cloudbusting being one such fan-delighting appearance. His rolled-back, scary-eyed howl at the end of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, too, provides more than enough material for a film buff to adore Donald Sutherland forever.

More Than You Need To Know: A Summary

Height: 6'4"
Date of Birth: July 6, 1934
Birth Place: St. John, New Brunswick, Canada
Education: University of Toronto, where he majored in Engineering and Drama, followed by the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Wife: Currently Francine Racette (actress; whom he met in 1972). Originally, Sutherland was married to Lois Hardwick, also an actress, whom he married in 1959 and divorced in 1966. She was followed by Shirley Douglas, another Canadian actress, whom he met while filming Castle of the Living Dead in 1964. They were married in 1966 and subsequently divorced in 1971.
Other Relationships: Jane Fonda (with whom he had three-year relationship)
Father: Frederick Sutherland, a salesman
Mother: Dorothy Sutherland, originally Dorothy McNichol
Children: Angus Redford Sutherland (born in 1979), Rossif Sutherland (born in 1978), Roeg Sutherland (born in 1974), Kiefer Sutherland (born on December 21, 1966 to Shirley Douglas), Rachel Sutherland (born on December 21, 1966 to Shirley Douglas; twin sister of Kiefer)

Selected films you may have heard of:

Salem's Lot (2004) (TV) (filming ) - Richard Straker
The Italian Job (2003) - John Bridger
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) (voice) - Dr. Sid
Space Cowboys (2000) - Jerry O'Neill
Virus (1999) - Capt. Robert Everton
The Puppet Masters (1994) - Andrew Nivens
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) - Merrick Jamison-Smythe
JFK (1991) - X (unknown general in black)
Backdraft (1991) - Ronald Bartel
Kate Bush: The Whole Story (1986) (V) - Father in the music video Cloudbusting
Max Dugan Returns (1983) - Brian Costello
Animal House (1978) - Prof. Dave Jennings
The Eagle Has Landed (1976) - Liam Devlin
The Day of the Locust (1975) - Homer Simpson
Alien Thunder (1974) - Dan Candy
Don't Look Now (1973) - John Baxter
Steelyard Blues (1973) - Jesse Veldini
Klute (1971) - John Klute
Kelly's Heroes (1970) - Sgt. Oddball, Tank Commander
M*A*S*H (1970) - Capt. Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce

Selected films you probably haven't heard of:

Da wan (2001) - Tyler
Threads of Hope (2000) (voice) - Narrator
The Hunley (1999) (TV) - General Pierre Beauregard
Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All (1994) (TV) - Capt. William Marsden
The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas (1992) - Narrator
Lock Up (1989) - Warden Drumgoole
Gas (1981) - Nick the Noz
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) - The Clumsy Waiter
Oedipus the King (1967) - Chorus Leader
Billion Dollar Brain (1967) - Scientist at computer
Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) - Joseph
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965) - Bob Carroll
Hamlet (1964/III) (TV) - Fortinbras, Prince of Norway

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