Donald Sutherland Sutherland was born in Saint John, New Brunswick to Dorothy McNichol and Frederick Sutherland, who was in charge of the local bus, gas and electricity company; his maternal grandfather was a Protestant minister. Sutherland, of Scottish descent, grew up in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. He got his first part time job aged 14 as a news correspondent for local radio station CKBW Radio in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia. He then studied at Victoria College, University of Toronto (where he was expelled from residence for throwing a sink out of a window) eventually graduating with a double major in engineering and drama. He had at one point been a member of "UC Follies" comedy troupe in Toronto. He changed his mind about becoming an engineer and subsequently left Canada for England to study at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
Acting career In the early 1960s he began to get small parts in British film and TV, in the mid 1960s getting notable roles in horror films with Christopher Lee such as Castle of the Living Dead (1964), and Dr. Terror's House of Horrors (1965). His first great successes came with the three war films The Dirty Dozen in 1967 with Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson, in 1970 as the lead Hawkeye Pierce in Robert Altman's M*A*S*H and as tank commander Sgt. Oddball in Kelly's Heroes with Clint Eastwood and Telly Savalas. Sutherland formed an intimate friendship with the actress Jane Fonda during the filming of the Academy award winning detective thriller Klute (1971), Sutherland later remarked that they had had a physical relationship on and off screen (to critic Mark Cousins in 2001).
Sutherland and Fonda went on to co-produce and star together in the anti Vietnam war film F.T.A. (1972) consisting of a series of sketches performed outside army bases in the Pacific Rim and interviews with the American troops who were then on active service. Sutherland found himself in demand as a leading man throughout the 1970s in films such as the Venice based psychological horror Don't Look Now (1973), the war film The Eagle Has Landed (1976), and as the ever optimistic health inspector in the sci-fi horror Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) alongside Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum.
He also made acclaimed performances in the 1976 Bernardo Bertolucci Italian fascism epic (318 minute) 1900 and for his role as the torn father in the Academy award winning family drama Ordinary People (1980) alongside Mary Tyler Moore and Timothy Hutton.
He played the part of fellow countryman, Canadian Norman Bethune, a physician, humanitarian and hero in China with whom he identified, in two separate biographical films in 1977 and 1990. Through the 1980s and 1990s his films were perhaps less noteworthy than those in the 1970s, exceptions being the South African apartheid drama A Dry White Season (1989) alongside Marlon Brando and Susan Sarandon, the fire fighter thriller Backdraft (1991) alongside Kurt Russell and De Niro, and as the snobbish NYC art dealer in Six Degrees of Separation (1993) with Stockard Channing and Will Smith.
In the Oliver Stone film, JFK, Sutherland played a mysterious Washington intelligence officer who spoke of links to the military-industrial complex in relation to Kennedy's assassination.
Recently he has been noted for his role as the Reverend Monroe in the civil war drama Cold Mountain (2003), in the re-make of The Italian Job (2003), and in Pride and Prejudice (2005) starring alongside Keira Knightley.
Sutherland's distinctive voice has been used in many radio and television commercials, including those for Volvo automobiles.
Personal life He was married to the actress Shirley Douglas from 1966 until 1970, daughter of Canadian democratic socialist statesman Tommy Douglas by whom he has a daughter Rachel and a son Kiefer Sutherland (a prominent actor and director, best known for his role in the TV series 24). He was previously married to Lois Hardwick (1959 - 1966) (divorced), and briefly had a relationship with the actress Jane Fonda during the early 1970s.
He met his current wife, the French-Canadian actress Francine Racette on the set of the Canadian pioneer drama Alien Thunder (1974) (she was later to star in the classic World War II drama Au revoir les enfants (1987). Together they have three sons (all named after directors who they worked with):
Roeg Sutherland (Born 1974) Rossif (Born 1978) (appeared in the 2003 film based on the Michael Crichton novel Timeline, and the 2005 film Red Doors) Angus Redford Sutherland (Born 1979) Donald Sutherland was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1978.