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The Donald Sutherland Bio

The Donald Sutherland Review –

by Nate Lee


(though all of his blockbusters are also brilliant films)

Six Degrees of Separation

The Great Train Robbery

(with Sean Connery, the best of his or anyone's heist films)

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Great Performances You May Not Have Seen:
Fellini's Casanova (Casanova)
A Dry White Season (a man moved by the atrocities of apartheid)
Without Limits (the legendary Oregon track coach, Bill Bowerman)
Klute (a detective, opposite Jane Fonda)
Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightly's understanding father)
The Wolf at the Door (Paul Gauguin)
Johnny Got His Gun (Jesus Christ)
Fierce People
Aurora Borealis (a grandfather)
A Time to Kill (a lawyer and father figure)
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Ordinary People
Animal House
Cold Mountain
The Crazy War-Time Donald:
M.A.S.H. - The very original Hawkeye Pierce
Kelly's Heros - The original drugged-out Dude, Oddball
The Dirty Dozen - Actually, this eccentric soldier role precedes the others.
Start the Revolution Without Me - It's the French Revolution and he's almost as crazy as Gene Wilder.
The Bad Guy Donald:
The Eye of the Needle - Nazi hit man and spy.
Panic - American hit man and father to William H. Macy
The Disappearance - Early role as a hit man
Hollow Point - Hit man in a lesser film.
Backdraft - A crazy, bad guy pyromaniac.
The Real Donald Sutherland:
Six Degrees of Separation / Ordinary People > Okay, the younger Donald was definitely closer to the crazy surgeon of M.A.S.H., forging his way through all the utter madness around him with a little drink, drugs and a lot of talent. But the older Donald is a successful family man who is an intellectual. His talent is studied craftsmanship and quiet thoughtfulness more than exuberant, devil-may-care raw energy.
Acting Style:
There's a reason why Donald Sutherland comes off as a British stage actor with an American accent. First of all, he trained in Britain (though he eschews some of that training), and second of all, only the British get to be stars looking as eccentric as he does. By the way, he's not American – he's Canadian.

Big deal, right? Like the best of the British, Sutherland can hold the screen just by talking. That whispery something (which seems genetic; Kiefer does it, too) that shoots up into the nasal cavity when it needs emphasis. That look (with the same huge arched eyebrows as Jack Nicholson) that aged from crazy in the '60s to offbeat in the '70s and '80s, to either the father figure or the sinister figure now, depending on how wide his smile is.

He has the chops to, if not save a movie, certainly make it worth watching, depending on how much he is in it. It's unbelievable that he is not more rewarded by the Academy.
Bits and Quirks:
The grin. He uses it. It may be an appetizer or a whole meal, but however it's served up, it means something. Then, depending on the intensity of the stare, the grin can be evil, malicious, crazy, and condescending, or bemused, tolerant and introspective. Then there is the looking down at the camera, to let the eyes do something different. Also, Donald brings a host of chuckles, often under his breath or part of a word, which in some cases say everything.
Great Scenes:

> Many greats
> The Suicide is Painless scene
> The golf and surgery expedition
> the snappy dialogue around the operating table.

Ordinary People

> The crying scene in the middle of the night, when he tells Mary Tyler Moore that he doesn't love her anymore.

Don't Look Now

> The love scene with Julie Christie is recognized as one of film's most erotic.
> The eerie drowning scene.

Animal House

> The professor, pleading with his students to do the assignment
> Smoking grass with Karen Allen.

Six Degrees of Separation

> The cocktail party where they tell the story.

Pride and Prejudice

> Having a heart to heart with his "modern" daughter, Keira Knightly.

Space Cowboys

> An old astronaut putting the moves on every woman in NASA.


> Explaining the conspiracy to Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison.