Donald Sutherland, veteran actor and father of Kiefer Sutherland, dead at 88

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(NEW YORK) — Actor Donald Sutherland, who starred in films including “Klute,” “M*A*SH*,” “Ordinary People” and, more recently, played the evil President Snow in “The Hunger Games” franchise, has died at age 88.

Sutherland’s son, actor Kiefer Sutherland, posted the news to social media.

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away,” Sutherland wrote. “I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film. Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that. A life well lived.”

Born on July 17, 1935, in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, Donald Sutherland got his start in acting as a student and went on to a prolific career that included nearly 150 film credits and over 40 television roles.

His first acting roles were in the early television series “Man of the World” and “Suspense.” He had more small roles across television in film throughout the 1960s before landing the role of Vernon L. Pinkley in the 1967 World War II classic film, “The Dirty Dozen.”

Donald Sutherland then played Army surgeon Hawkeye Pierce in director Robert Altman’s 1970 film version of “M*A*S*H,” which inspired the classic TV series. The role launched a series of film roles and projects for the actor throughout the 1970s, including the drama “Klute” in 1971, in which he starred alongside Jane Fonda, who won the Best Actress Oscar for her role.

In 1980, Donald Sutherland starred opposite Mary Tyler Moore in the Robert Redford-directed drama “Ordinary People,” which also starred Judd Hirsch and 20-year-old Timothy Hutton, who became the youngest-ever Best Supporting Actor Oscar-winner for his role in the film, one of five Academy Awards it won.

The actor returned to Broadway in 1981 after his 1969 debut in “Buck White,” and starred in the Edward Albee-adapted play of Vladimir Nabokov’s novel, “Lolita.”

Following Broadway, Sutherland continued to star in many notable films throughout the 1980s and 1990s, including “A Dry White Season” in 1989 alongside Marlon Brando, and in writer/director Oliver Stone’s controversial “JFK” in 1991, with Kevin Costner, Kevin Bacon and Tommy Lee Jones.

In the 2000s, Donald Sutherland’s career in film continued to thrive with roles in the action comedy “Space Cowboys” in 2000, the Civil War drama “Cold Mountain” in 2003, in which he starred in with Nicole Kidman, and the heist film “The Italian Job” in 2003, with Charlize Theron.

Sutherland also portrayed Mr. Bennett in the 2005 film adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice,” with Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Rosamund Pike and more.

Sutherland reached a new generation of fans when he starred in four films in “The Hunger Games” action drama franchise, playing Coriolanus Snow, the tyrannical president of the fictional Panem. The franchise’s star-studded cast included Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci and more.

While speaking with “Good Morning America” in 2015 about “The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1,” Donald Sutherland said of playing President Snow, “he’s not misunderstood, he runs a totalitarian state — he’s an oligarch,” adding, “I just wanted to be a part of it. I wanted to end my life being part of something that I thought would maybe catalyze and revolutionize young people.”

Tom Blyth, who played a young Coriolanus Snow in “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” paid tribute to Donald Sutherland on Instagram and wrote, “Donald Sutherland came about as close to mastering the craft of acting as anyone gets.”

“So may genius performances,” he continued. “I never had the honor of knowing him personally, but it was the honor of a lifetime to follow in his footsteps. Thank you sir for birthing one of the great movie characters of all time.”

Donald Sutherland’s final on-screen role was as the no-nonsense Judge Isaac Parker in the 2023 Western television miniseries “Lawmen: Bass Reeves,” opposite star David Oyelowo.

In 2017, Sutherland was presented with an Honorary Academy Award for his body of work, and was introduced and lauded onstage by his “The Hunger Games” co-star and fellow Oscar winner Lawrence.

“This is very important to me, to my family,” Sutherland said at the time. “It’s like a door is opened and a cool, wonderfully fresh breath of air has come in. I wish I could say thank you to all of the characters that I’ve played. Thank them for using their lives to inform my life,” he added.

“And of course, thank you to Francine Racette, from whom everything has come — that’s my family — from whom everything has come and to whom everything is owed,” he continued, referring to his wife. “I have been a partner to her for over 45 years. And in all that she has supported me with her intelligence, her intuition, her instruction, her ability to make me laugh in the direst of situations. Her extraordinary sense of taste, her residual belief in me. Amongst all of these, her ability to absorb and sustain the extraordinary ups and downs of this crazy movie life we have gone through. She deserves a medal for that.”

Sutherland’s memoir, titled “Made Up, but Still True,” to be published by Penguin Random House, is due in November.

Donald Sutherland is survived by his five children: twins Kiefer and Rachel Sutherland, whom he shares with the late actress Shirley Jean Douglas, as well as Rossif, Roeg and Angus Redford Sutherland, whom he shares with Racette.

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