Actor Donald Sutherland dies aged 88

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BBC- Actor Donald Sutherland, star of films including The Hunger Games and Don’t Look Now, has died at 88 after a long illness.

His son, the actor Kiefer Sutherland, announced his father’s death in a statement.

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away. I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film,” he said.

“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.”

Sutherland starred in films including The Dirty Dozen, MASH and Klute.

One of the Canadian actor’s breakout roles was as Hawkeye Pierce, a surgeon in the 1970 film version of MASH, a comedy about medics in the Korean War.

Sutherland had almost 200 credits to his name.

Born in New Brunswick, Canada, Sutherland started as a radio news reporter before leaving Canada to travel to London in 1957. There, he studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.

He then took on small roles in British film and television.

Sutherland starred in The Dirty Dozen, a World War II action film that premiered in 1967.

His off-kilter presence saw him land another war film role as the appropriately named Sergeant Oddball, in Kelly’s Heroes.

1:17Donald Sutherland on not being a ‘conventional’ Hollywood star

Yet he was on more restrained form in 1971’s Klute, playing a detective whose hunt for a missing person is assisted by a high-priced call girl.

Jane Fonda was Sutherland’s co-star in Alan J Pakula’s film and won an Oscar for her role.

He dated Fonda for two years before the couple split.

In the 1973 thriller Don’t Look Now, a sex scene of such frankness had viewers believe he and co-star Julie Christie had had sex for real – a rumour Sutherland later discounted.

The 1970s also saw him play an IRA member in The Eagle Has Landed, a pot-smoking college professor in National Lampoon’s Animal House, and the lead in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

In the 1980s, Sutherland played the father of a suicidal teenager in the Oscar-winning Ordinary People.

He turned to television in the 2000s, appearing in such series as Dirty Sexy Money and Commander-in-Chief.

Despite his numerous roles that span 150 films, the Canadian actor was never nominated for an Oscar, but did receive an honorary Academy Award in 2017.

Sutherland was also known for his political activism throughout his career. He protested the US war in Vietnam alongside Fonda. Some of their efforts were chronicled in the 1972 documentary F.T.A.

Sutherland also channeled his beliefs into some of his roles, including The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2, released in 2015. Sutherland played the tyrannical President Snow, the target of heroine Katniss Everdeen, played by Jennifer Lawrence, as she sought to assassinate Snow and liberate her fellow citizens.

Sutherland told BBC News in 2015 that he hoped the film’s socio-political message will help young fans become more aware of the world around them. In the film, Panem is a society where an elite class rules over poverty-stricken masses.

“I have been convinced for the last 30 years that they weren’t thinking politically at all,” says Sutherland. “The purpose of everybody involved in this was try to get them engaged. As Bruce Springsteen said, ‘Blind faith in your leaders… will get you killed.'”

His death comes months before his memoir was set to be released, Made Up, But Still True, a book about his personal journey as an actor.

In 2015, Sutherland told BBC News that one of the biggest changes he’s noticed in the industry over his career is that recent actors were making “a lot of money”.

“I don’t think anybody of my generation became an actor to make money. It never occurred to me. I made £8 a week here [on stage in London]. When I starred in a play at the Royal Court, I made £17 a week, that was in 1964,” he said.

At the time, he said he has no plans to retire from acting.

“It’s a passionate endeavour. Retirement for actors is spelt ‘DEATH’.” he said.

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  1. It’s heartbreaking to hear about the passing of Donald Sutherland, a true icon in the world of film. I enjoyed watching his films. Though he may no longer be with us, his legacy will live on through his impressive body of work, which will continue to inspire and entertain generations to come. Rest in peace, Donald Sutherland.

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