Donald Sutherland Bio - Biography

Name Donald Sutherland
Height 6' 4"
Naionality Canadian
Date of Birth 17 July 1935
Place of Birth Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada
Famous for
"Well, I was always cast as an artistic homicidal maniac. But at least I was artistic!" Donald Sutherland (on his early roles).

Donald Sutherland made his stage debut in "The Male Animal", Hart House Theatre, Toronto, in 1952 before attending LAMDA in 1958. Two years later, he began acting in British TV and Repertory Theater. He was spotted as a guest in an episode of the TV series "Studio Four," "Suspense" and "The Odd Man." Sutherland also debuted on London stage in a production of "August for the People" in 1963. After appearing in writer-director Wolf Rilla's The World Ten Times Over and the comedy TV movie Terry-Thomas (both in 1963), Sutherland won his first significant film role, as Sgt. Paul/The witch/The old man, in Luciano Ricci and Lorenzo Sabatini's horror film, Castello dei morti vivi, Il (1964, a.k.a. Castle of the Living Dead, alongside Christopher Lee).

The subsequent years, Sutherland was seen in Hamlet (1964, TV), The Death of Bessie Smith (1965, TV), The Bedford Incident (1965), The American Civil War (1965, TV), Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965), Fanatic (1965, a.k.a. Die! Die! My Darling!) and "A Farewell to Arms" (1966, miniseries). He made his US TV debut in ABC series "Court Martial" in 1966 and made his breakthrough feature supporting role as Vernon L. Pinkley in Robert Aldrich's adaptation of E.M. Nathanson's novel, the all-star cast classic World War II action dramaThe Dirty Dozen (1967, starring Lee Marvin). He then was cast in films like Billion Dollar Brain, Oedipus the King, Sebastian, Interlude, and The Split. He also received strong notices for playing Lord Peter Sanderson, a gaudy wealthy young man, in writer-director Michael Sarne's musical drama Joanna (1968, opposite Geneviève Waïte) and portraying the dual role of Charles/Pierre in Bud Yorkin's charming farce in the tradition of the great costume films of the 30's and 40's, Start the Revolution Without Me (1970, costarring with Gene Wilder).

After portraying prototypical hippie, tank commander Sgt. Oddball in Brian G. Hutton's WWII comedy-drama Kelly's Heroes (1970, with Clint Eastwood, Telly Savalas and Don Rickles), Sutherland was tossed toward stardom for playing the original Capt. Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce, the crack military surgeon but lousy soldier, in Robert Altman's take on Richard Hooker's novel, the Korean War comedy M*A*S*H (1970, alongside Elliott Gould and Tom Skerritt). Sutherland’s performance earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Motion Picture Actor - Musical/Comedy. In 1971, Sutherland offered an exceptional turn as the title role of the rural Pennsylvania private eye, opposite then-girlfriend Jane Fonda (won an Oscar for her role in this film), in Alan J. Pakula's intense suspense thriller Klute and played Jesus Christ in Dalton Trumbo's screen version of his own novel, Johnny Got His Gun (alongside Timothy Bottoms), a moving drama which realistically represents the horrors and evil of war. He also reunited with M*A*S*H costar actor Elliott Gould in Alan Arkin's film version of Jules Feiffer's comedy play, Little Murders.

Along with Jane Fonda, Sutherland debuted as co-producer and co-writer for F.T.A./Free (or F***) the Army revue, which was presented near Army bases and featuring anti-war skits and songs, and costarred with her in Alan Myerson's crime comedy Steelyard Blues (1973, a.k.a. The Final Crash, Sutherland also executive-produced), the latter of which earned Sutherland Best Actor nomination at BAFTA Awards. He received Best Actor nomination at BAFTA Awards again for playing Julie Christie's husband in Nicolas Roeg's third film, the haunting thriller based on a story by Daphne Du Maurier, Don't Look Now (1973) before making another turn with Elliott Gould as the bumbling duo of Griff and Brulard in Irvin Kershner's spy spoof S*P*Y*S (1974). Director John Schlesinger gave him the starring role of the strange man-child Homer Simpson, the love interest of Burgess Meredith's character, in his adaptation of Nathanael West's satirical novel, The Day of the Locust (1975), and filmmaker Federico Fellini handed him the title role of the libertine, collecting seductions and sexual feats Giacomo Casanova in his drama film inspired by Giacomo Casanova's autobiography Histoire de ma vie, Casanova di Federico Fellini, Il (1976, a.k.a. Fellini's Casanova).

Sutherland played bestial fascist Attila in Bernardo Bertolucci's four-hour-plus epic 1900 (starring Robert De Niro and Gérard Depardieu) and portrayed an IRA lifer who hates the British, opposite Michael Caine, in John Sturges's adaptation of Jack Higgins's best-selling suspense novel, The Eagle Has Landed (both in 1976). He gave fine performance as Canadian surgeon Bethune (1977) for Canadian biographical TV movie with the same name and later reprised his role in Phillip Borsos and Raoul Coutard-directed feature Dr Bethune (released in USA in 1993). Sutherland also gave another extraordinary performance as Matthew Bennel, a Department of Health inspector confronting unspeakable horrors, in Phillip Kaufman's remake of the 1956 cult classic, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (based on Jack Finney's novel), and teamed with Sean Connery to rob a moving train's safe in Victorian England in Michael Crichton's most accomplished directorial effort, the stylish thriller based on his best-selling book, The Great Train Robbery (1979).

Entering 1980s, Sutherland costarred with Mary Tyler Moore, playing devastated, well-to-do suburban couple, in Robert Redford's award-winning directorial debut based on the novel by Judith Guest, Ordinary People, which nabbed Sutherland Best Motion Picture Actor - Drama nomination at Golden Globe Awards. In 1981, he debuted on Broadway as Humbert Humbert in Edward Albee's stage adaptation of "Lolita" and founded McNichol Pictures Inc. (also president). In front of the camera, Sutherland delivered an incredibly icy performance as ruthless German spy Heinrich "Henry" Faber in Richard Marquand's film based on the best seller by Ken Follett, Eye of the Needle, and portrayed the celebrated heart surgeon Dr. Vrain in Richard Pearce’s Threshold (Sutherland won Genie Awards for Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role). Two years later, he joined son Kiefer in his film debut, Herbert Ross' drama comedy Max Dugan Returns (1983), in which Donald Sutherland played Marsha Mason's new policeman boyfriend. He also returned to the small screen after a 15-year absence in the leading role in the CBS TV-movie, John Steinbeck's The Winter of Our Discontent.

In the mid of 1980s, Sutherland starred in Michael Dinner's drama comedy Heaven Help Us (1985) before he portrayed French artist Paul Gauguin in Henning Carlsen-helmed biopic Oviri (1986, a.k.a. The Wolf at the Door, Sutherland later provided voice of Gauguin in PBS' Paul Gauguin: The Savage Dream (1989)) and was cast as Father Bob Kiesler, the priest who hears the confession of the man responsible for a serial killings of priests and nuns, in Fred Walton's adaptation of William X. Kienzle's novel, The Rosary Murders (1987). In the late of 1980s, Sutherland became a South African teacher whose life and values are threatened when he asks questions about the death of a young black boy who died in police custody, in Euzhan Palcy's take on Andre Brink's novel, the drama thriller A Dry White Season, and portrayed sympathetic psychiatrist Dr. Charles Loftis in Hugh Hudson's Lost Angels (both in 1989).

The early 1990s saw Sutherland played mad firebug Ronald Bartel in Ron Howard's coming-of-age film Backdraft (with Kurt Russell, William Baldwin and Robert De Niro), portrayed Colonel X in Oliver Stone's thriller drama based on Jim Marrs and Jim Garrison's book, JFK (starring Kevin Costner) and became Kristy Swanson’s Buffy mentor in Fran Rubel Kuzui-directed movie Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He then costarred as a rich NYC art dealer in Fred Schepisi's screen version of John Guare's play, the mystery drama Six Degrees of Separation (1993, with Stockard Channing and Will Smith) and became Michael Douglas' boss in Barry Levinson's take on Michael Crichton's novel, the thriller drama Disclosure (1994, also starring Demi Moore). Also in 1994, Sutherland narrated the documentary series about great fiction and non-fiction books and their content and impact, The Learning Channel's "Great Books" series, and teamed with Eric Thal and Julie Warner to eliminate the aliens who taking over people's minds in order to spread their dominion, in Stuart Orme's sci-fi movie inspired by Robert A. Heinlein's novel, The Puppet Masters. He was also brilliant as Captain William Marsden in the CBS heartwarming miniseries based on the novel by Alan Gurganus, "The Oldest Confederate Widow Tells All" (opposite Diane Lane).

Sutherland acted with Dustin Hoffman, Rene Russo, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Kevin Spacey in Wolfgang Petersen's Outbreak, as the icy Maj. Gen. Donald McClintock, who is willing to destroy a town to save the world from a deadly viral epidemic, before he won Emmy and Golden Globe for his suave portrayal of Colonel Mikhail Fetisov in the HBO true-story based movie adapted from Robert Cullen's book "The Killer Department," Citizen X (both in 1995). He reunited with son Kiefer in Joel Schumacher's adaptation of John Grisham's novel, A Time to Kill (1996), playing the alcoholic mentor of young lawyer Jake Brigance (played by Matthew McConaughey’s), was cast as coldly manipulative CIA agent Jack Shaw/Henry Fields in Christian Duguay's The Assignment (1997, opposite Aidan Quinn) and portrayed wily Jacob Conrad, Charlie Sheen's mentor, in George P. Cosmatos' political thriller The Shadow Conspiracy (1997). He also portrayed Bill Bowerman, the legendary coach of American track and field star Steve Prefontaine (played by Billy Crudup), in Robert Towne's biopic Without Limits (Sutherland won a Golden Satellite and was nominated a Golden Globe), and stalked the hidden enemy in Gregory Hoblit's supernatural thriller Fallen (with Denzel Washington and John Goodman, both in 1998).

The new millennium caught Sutherland acted on stage in "Enigma Variations" starred as a painter in the Off-Broadway play "Ten Unknowns" by Jon Robin Baitz. On screen, he played the lead role of small time hood Jimmy Burke in the A&E original adapted from Ernest Volkman and John Cummings' book, The Big Heist, costarred with Michael Gambon in HBO's excellent historical docudrama Path to War (Sutherland won Golden Globe’s Best Supporting Actor), and appeared in Anthony Minghella's war epic inspired by Charles Frazier's book, Cold Mountain (starring Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Renee Zellweger). In 2003, Sutherland offered a memorable role of veteran safecracker John Bridger in F. Gary Gray's remake of Michael Caine's 1969 film with the same name, The Italian Job (with Mark Wahlberg and Charlize Theron) and starred as Yankie director Don Tyler in Xiaogang Feng's comedy Da wan (a.k.a. Big Shot's Funeral, 2001, USA released 2003). He recently played the patriarch Mr. Bennet in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Pride and Prejudice (with Keira Knightley, Matthew MacFadyen, Rosamund Pike and Jena Malone), which centers five sisters living in class-conscious England near the close of the 18th century.

"You have to understand, in that period, women were disenfranchised. They lost the right to inherit property. They had to get married. Otherwise, they had nothing. They were in the poor house." Donald Sutherland (on the film Pride and Prejudice (2005)).

2005 also watched Sutherland became Diane Lane's renowned anthropologist father in Griffin Dunne's adaptation of Dirk Wittenborn's book, Fierce People, costarred with Forest Whitaker in Aric Avelino's American Gun, and with Sissy Spacek and Rachel Hurd Wood in Courtney Solomon's thriller based on Brent Monahan's book and the true events of the only case in Tennessee during the 1800s where a spirit caused the death of a man, An American Haunting. Sutherland is currently costarring with Geena Davis, playing Speaker of the House, Nathan Templeton, in Rod Lurie's ABC new drama series "Commander in Chief." He will soon complete his upcoming films: Robert Towne-directed adaptation of John Fante's Depression Era novel, the romantic drama Ask the Dust (starring Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek), writer-director Robert Edwards' drama Land of the Blind (opposite Ralph Fiennes, Sutherland will costar as a famous political prisoner attempting to overthrow the country's totalitarian government) and Nicolas Roeg's thriller movie inspired by Fay Weldon's novel, Puffball. He is also scheduled to costar with Lisa Barbuscia and Famke Janssen in Jean-Pierre Isbouts' war drama The Four Saints.

"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." Donald Sutherland.

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