Donald Sutherland dies

Legendary actor leaves a remarkable legacy

by Jennie Kermode

Donald Sutherland in Nicolas Roeg's classic Don't Look Now
Donald Sutherland in Nicolas Roeg's classic Don't Look Now

He was the face of the Seventies, wowing audiences in the likes of Don't Look Now, The Eagle Has Landed and Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, and his star never faded, but now Donald Sutherland has died at the age of 88. The Canadian star worked right up until the end of his life, making his final appearance in Michelle Danner's powerful Miranda's Victim, and he leaves a remarkable cinematic legacy for fans to enjoy.

With other career highlights including Klute, The Day Of The Locust, Ordinary People, Eye Of The Needle and JFK, Sutherland will be best known to younger viewers as President Snow from the Hunger Games franchise. A Companion of the Order of Canada, with stars on the Canadian Walk of Fame and Hollywood Walk of Fame, he never won an Oscar for a specific performance but was eventually given an honorary one. He also received a Golden Globe for his work in Path To War, one of several television series to which he lent his talents.

Highly capable in drama but also the go-to man for thrillers for some time, Sutherland was frequently attracted to genre fare. Alongside the more famous fare, fan favourites include Outbreak, The Puppet Masters and the original Buffy The Vampire Slayer, with Kristy Swanson and Rutger Hauer. Regardless of the size of a role, he always gave it his all, creating characters who had depth, vulnerability and humanity.

Always outspoken, Sutherland made no secret of his left wing political leanings. He attracted the attention of the security services when protesting against the Vietnam War. Later he would write for the Huffington Post and back Barack Obama's US presidential campaign.

Although he continued with voice acting work during his final months, Sutherland had been ill for some time and in gradual decline. He passed away in Miami and is survived by his wife, actress Francine Racette, and their three children, Rossif, Angus and Roeg, as well as his twins from a previous marriage, Kiefer and Rachel.

"With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away," said Kiefer Sutherland. "I personally think [he was] 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."

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