Donald Sutherland


17 Jul 1935


Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada


Donald McNichol Sutherland


The towering presence of Canadian actor Donald Sutherland is often noticed, as are his legendary contributions to cinema. He has appeared in almost 200 different shows and films. He is also the father of renowned actor Kiefer Sutherland, among others.

Donald McNichol Sutherland was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, to Dorothy Isobel (McNichol) and Frederick McLea Sutherland, who worked in sales and electricity. He has Scottish, as well as German and English, ancestry. 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.

Actor ( 228 credits )

Ferdinand (2017) Banderillero (voice)
Basmati Blues (2017) Gurgon
The Leisure Seeker (2017) John
Milton's Secret (2016) Grandpa Howard
Ghostrasized (2016) (archive footage)
Measure of a Man (2016) Dr. Kahn
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2 (2015) President Snow
Pirate's Passage (2015) Captain Johnson (voice)
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1 (2014) President Snow
The Calling (2014) Father Price
Altman (2014) Himself (archive footage)
The Best Offer (2013) Billy Whistler
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) President Snow
Jäger des Augenblicks - Ein Abenteuer am Mount Roraima (2013) Ivan (archive footage) (uncredited)
Jappeloup (2013) John Lester
Crossing Lines (2013)  Michel Dorn (16 episodes, 2013-2014)
The Frame (2013)  President Snow (archive footage) (1 episode, 2013)
IMDb: What to Watch (2013)  Himself (1 episode, 2014)
Dawn Rider (2012) Cochrane
The Hunger Games (2012) President Snow
Out of the Shadows (2012) Narrator
Assassin's Bullet (2012) Ambassador Ashdown
Man on the Train (2011) The Professor
Horrible Bosses (2011) Jack Pellit
The Eagle (2011) Uncle Aquila
The Mechanic (2011) Harry McKenna
Jock the Hero Dog (2011) Narrator / Sir Percy Fitzpatrick (voice)
Moby Dick (2011)  Father Mapple (2 episodes, 2011)
The Con Artist (2010) John Kranski
Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Ceremonies, Behind the Scenes (2010) Himself
Special Collector's Edition (2010)  The Clumsy Waiter (segment "That's Armageddon") (1 epi
Astro Boy (2009) President Stone (voice)
Fool's Gold (2008) Nigel Honeycutt
Trumbo (2007) Himself
Puffball: The Devil's Eyeball (2007) Lars
The Last Continent (2007) Narrator (uncredited)
Dinosaurs: Giants of Patagonia (2007) Narrator (voice)
Reign Over Me (2007) Judge Raines
Sleepwalkers (2007) Businessman struck by a taxi
Dirty Sexy Money (2007)  Patrick 'Tripp' Darling III (23 episodes, 2007-2009)
The Graham Norton Show (2007)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2011)
Up Close with Carrie Keagan (2007)  Himself - Guest (3 episodes, 2008-2012)
Days of Darkness (2007) Award Show Presenter (uncredited)
Beerfest (2006) Johann von Wolfhaus (uncredited)
Land of the Blind (2006) Thorne
Ask the Dust (2006) Hellfrick
America's Game: The Superbowl Champions (2006)  Narrator (1 episode, 2007)
American Gun (2005) Carl Wilk
Pride & Prejudice (2005) Mr. Bennet
An American Haunting (2005) John Bell
Lord of War (2005) Colonel Oliver Southern (voice)
Sir! No Sir! (2005) Himself (archive footage) (uncredited)
Fierce People (2005) Ogden C. Osborne
Aurora Borealis (2005) Ronald Shorter
The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2013)
Made in Hollywood (2005)  Himself (2 episodes, 2012-2013)
Commander in Chief (2005)  Nathan Templeton (19 episodes, 2005-2006)
Cinema mil (2005)  Himself (1 episode, 2005)
Human Trafficking (2005)  Meehan
HARDtalk Extra (2004)  Himself (1 episode, 2005)
Salem's Lot (2004)  Richard Straker (2 episodes, 2004)
Baltic Storm (2003) Lou Aldryn
Five Moons Plaza (2003) Rosario Sarracino
Cold Mountain (2003) Reverend Monroe
Inventing Grace, Touching Glory (2003) Himself (archive footage)
The Italian Job (2003) John Bridger
Fellini: I'm a Born Liar (2002) Himself / Casanova
Da wan (2001) Tyler
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001) Dr. Sid (voice)
Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (2001)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2008)
History vs. Hollywood (2001)  Himself (1 episode, 2001)
Queen Victoria's Empire (2001)  Narrator (4 episodes, 2001)
Threads of Hope (2000) Narrator (voice)
The Art of War (2000) Douglas Thomas
Space Cowboys (2000) Jerry O'Neill
Panic (2000) Michael
Backstory (2000)  Himself (1 episode, 2000)
Nulle part ailleurs: midi (2000)  Himself (1 episode, 2000)
Breakfast (2000)  Himself - Actor (1 episode, 2011)
Instinct (1999) Ben Hillard
Virus (1999) Captain Robert Everton
Free Money (1998) Judge Rolf Rausenberger
Without Limits (1998) Bill Bowerman
Fallen (1998) Lt. Stanton
The Assignment (1997) Jack Shaw / Henry Fields
Shadow Conspiracy (1997) Jacob Conrad
Corazón de... (1997)  Himself (1 episode, 2006)
The Living Edens (1997)  Narrator (1 episode, 1998)
Hollow Point (1996) Garrett Lawton
A Time to Kill (1996) Lucien Wilbanks
The Rosie O'Donnell Show (1996)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2001)
The O'Reilly Factor (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 2008)
Life and Times (1996)  Himself / ... (2 episodes, 2001-2002)
Scene by Scene (1996)  Himself (1 episode, 2001)
Outbreak (1995) General Donald McClintock
MADtv (1995)  Himself (1 episode, 2006)
Private Screenings (1995)  Jerry O'Neill in 'Space Cowboys' (archive footage) (1
A Century of Cinema (1994) Himself
Disclosure (1994) Bob Garvin
The Puppet Masters (1994) Andrew Nivens
Punch (1994) Craman
Inside the Actors Studio (1994)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 1998)
The Mighty River (1993) Narrator (voice)
Six Degrees of Separation (1993) Flan
Red Hot (1993) Kirov
Benefit of the Doubt (1993) Frank
Younger and Younger (1993) Jonathan Younger
GMTV (1993)  Himself (1 episode, 2005)
Great Books (1993)  Narrator (11 episodes, 1993-2002)
Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2000)
Shadow of the Wolf (1992) Henderson
The Poky Little Puppy's First Christmas (1992) Narrator (voice)
The Railway Station Man (1992) Roger Hawthorne
The Setting Sun (1992) John Williams
Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1992) Merrick
HBO First Look (1992)  Himself (1 episode, 2005)
JFK (1991) X
Scream of Stone (1991) Ivan
Backdraft (1991) Ronald Bartel
Buster's Bedroom (1991) O'Connor
Eminent Domain (1990) Josef Borski
Bethune: The Making of a Hero (1990) Dr. Norman Bethune
Hollywood Mavericks (1990) Hawkeye Pierce (archive footage) (uncredited)
A Dry White Season (1989) Ben du Toit
Lock Up (1989) Warden Drumgoole
Lost Angels (1989) Dr. Charles Loftis
The Simpsons (1989)  Hollis Hurlbut (1 episode, 1996)
The Arsenio Hall Show (1989)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 1989)
Apprentice to Murder (1988) John Reese
Live with Kelly and Michael (1988)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 2005)
The Trouble with Spies (1987) Appleton Porter
The Rosary Murders (1987) Father Robert Koesler
Biography (1987)  Himself / ... (3 episodes, 1995)
The Last Resort with Jonathan Ross (1987)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 1987)
Give Me Your Answer True (1987) Himself
Oviri (1986) Paul Gauguin
Revolution (1985) Sgt. Maj. Peasy
Heaven Help Us (1985) Brother Thadeus
American Masters (1985)  Himself - Actor (1 episode, 2000)
Ordeal by Innocence (1984) Dr. Arthur Calgary
Crackers (1984) Weslake
Showbiz Today (1984) (1 episode, 1997)
Max Dugan Returns (1983) Brian Costello
La edad de oro (1983)  Himself (uncredited) (1 episode, 1984)
Zoom su Fellini (1983)  Himself (unknown episodes)
Cinéma cinémas (1982)  Himself (1 episode, 1989)
Threshold (1981) Dr. Thomas Vrain
Gas (1981) Nick the Noz
Eye of the Needle (1981) Faber
A War Story (1981) Narrated by (voice)
Entertainment Tonight (1981)  Himself (2 episodes, 2007-2009)
Ordinary People (1980) Calvin
Nothing Personal (1980) Roger Keller
North China Commune (1980) Narrator (voice)
North China Factory (1980) Narrator (voice)
Wuxing People's Commune (1980) Narrator (voice)
A Man, a Woman and a Bank (1979) Reese Halperin
Murder by Decree (1979) Robert Lees
The Great Train Robbery (1979) Agar
Bear Island (1979) Frank Lansing
Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) Matthew Bennell
Animal House (1978) Dave Jennings
Blood Relatives (1978) Steve Carella
The Disappearance (1977) Jay Mallory
The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) The Clumsy Waiter (segment "That's Armageddon")
1900 (1976) Attila Mellanchini
The Eagle Has Landed (1976) Liam Devlin
Fellini's Casanova (1976) Giacomo Casanova
The Spiral (1976) Narrator on English Release (voice)
End of the Game (1975) Corpse of Lt. Robert Schmied
The Day of the Locust (1975) Homer Simpson
Good Morning America (1975)  Himself - Guest (2 episodes, 1978-1994)
Les rendez-vous du dimanche (1975)  Himself (1 episode, 1980)
The Shadow Catcher (1974) Edward S. Curtis (voice)
S*P*Y*S (1974) Bruland
Alien Thunder (1974) Sgt. Dan Candy
Don't Look Now (1973) John Baxter
Lady Ice (1973) Andy Hammon
Steelyard Blues (1973) Jesse Veldini
FTA (1972) Himself
Norman Corwin Presents (1972) (1 episode, 1972)
Klute in New York: A Background for Suspense (1971) Himself
Johnny Got His Gun (1971) Christ
Klute (1971) John Klute
Little Murders (1971) Rev. Dupas
Film '72 (1971)  Himself (1 episode, 1974)
Alex in Wonderland (1970) Alex Morrison
Act of the Heart (1970) Father Michael Ferrier
Kelly's Heroes (1970) Sgt. Oddball
Start the Revolution Without Me (1970) Charles / Pierre
MASH (1970) Hawkeye Pierce
The David Frost Show (1969)  Himself - Guest (2 episodes, 1971)
Joanna (1968) Lord Peter Sanderson
Oedipus the King (1968) Chorus Leader
Interlude (1968) Lawrence
Sebastian (1968) Ackerman
The Split (1968) Dave Negli
The Champions (1968)  David Crayley (1 episode, 1969)
The Name of the Game (1968)  Jerry Trevor (1 episode, 1969)
The Dick Cavett Show (1968)  Himself - Guest (1 episode, 1970)
Operation Dirty Dozen (1967) Himself (uncredited)
The Shuttered Room (1967) Zebulon (voice)
Billion Dollar Brain (1967) Scientist at Computer
The Dirty Dozen (1967) Vernon Pinkley
Man in a Suitcase (1967)  Earle / ... (2 episodes, 1967-1968)
Apropos Film (1967)  Himself (1 episode, 1975)
Promise Her Anything (1966) Autograph Seeking Father (uncredited)
The Bedford Incident (1965) Hospitalman Nerney - Sick Bay
Die! Die! My Darling! (1965) Joseph
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965) Dr. Bob Carroll (segment 5 "Vampire")
BBC Play of the Month (1965)  Charles Givens (1 episode, 1966)
Court Martial (1965)  Cpl. Brown (1 episode, 1966)
Castle of the Living Dead (1964) Sgt. Paul / The witch / The old man
Gideon C.I.D. (1964)  Philip Guest (1 episode, 1966)
Theatre 625 (1964)  Priest / ... (2 episodes, 1966)
Cinema (1964)  Himself (1 episode, 1973)
The World Ten Times Over (1963) Tall Man in Nightclub (uncredited)
The Sentimental Agent (1963)  Hotel Clerk (1 episode, 1963)
The Saint (1962)  John Wood / ... (2 episodes, 1965-1966)
Man of the World (1962)  Unhelpful Neighbour (uncredited) (1 episode, 1962)
Studio 4 (1962)  Switchboard Operator (1 episode, 1962)
Suspense (1962)  Dr. Hal Seaton (1 episode, 1963)
The Avengers (1961)  Jessel (1 episode, 1967)
The Odd Man (1960)  Mitch Scott (1 episode, 1963)
ITV Play of the Week (1955)  Canadian / ... (3 episodes, 1963-1965)
The Irv Kupcinet Show (1953)  Himself (1 episode, 1971)
Forsaken (0) Rev. Clayton
Contaminations (0) Himself - Actor

Producer ( 3 credits )

Pirate's Passage (2015) producer
Steelyard Blues (1973) executive producer
FTA (1972) producer