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Top 10 Donald Sutherland Roles

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To celebrate the release of the first ever 4k, Ultra High Definition restoration of Nicolas Roeg’s iconic thriller DON’T LOOK NOW (1973), which will open in UK cinemas on July 5 and be released on DVD, Blu-Ray, EST and in a new collector’s edition on July 29, we are taking a look back at the top 10 Donald Sutherland roles.
With a career spanning from 1964 to today, Sutherland is known for his range of eclectic roles. from his debut opposite Christopher Lee in Castle Of The Living Dead (1964), B-horror flicks including Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978) to Jane Austin and Fellini. Below is our pick of his best performances.

1) THE DIRTY DOZEN (1967)

Director Robert Aldrich

Sutherland began his career in the UK, with British film and TV before snagging the role of Pinkley in Robert Aldrich’s film, opposite Lee Marvin, Charles Bronson and John Cassavetes. The film follows 12 death row convicts who are given a mission to do a mass assassination of German officers during WWII, and Sutherland made his mark with the goofy character, with a notable scene where he impersonates a senior officer.

2) M*A*S*H (1970)

Director Robert Altman

MASH marked Sutherland’s move from supporting to leading roles, when he was cast as Hawkeye Pierce in Robert Altman’s satire about army surgeons during the Korean war. Sutherland further showcased his comedy skills and restrained dialogue in the film, which marked a response to the ongoing social divide surrounding the Vietnam war in the US and Hollywood.Also starring Robert Duvall, Elliott Gould and Sally Kellerman, the film won an Academy Award for it’s screenplay and resulted in a spinoff TV series which ran for 11 seasons.

3) KELLY’S HEROES (1970)

Director Brian G. Hutton

In the same year, Sutherland starred in the Clint Eastwod WWII vehicle as Oddball, the hippie sergeant, again relying on his flair for comedy as the character delivers some of the most memorable lines in the film. Despite its legacy as a heist comedy, the shoot in Yugoslavia had its issues, with Sutherland contracting a near fatal bout of meningitis. Eastwood and Sutherland would share the screen again in Space Cowboys (2000).

4) DON’T LOOK NOW (1973)

Director Nicolas Roeg

Based on Daphne du Maurier’s renowned short story, this Nicolas Roeg film about a couple who go to Venice following the death of their daughter, is a masterclass in grief, tragic regret and desire. Sutherland stars opposite Julie Christie, whose character becomes obsessed with the idea that their daughter is trying to contact them from beyond the grave, while a murderer rampages across the city, leading to one of the most memorable climaxes in cinematic history. Roeg had Sutherland and Christie in mind from the start, but when they were both originally committed to other projects, Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner were briefly rumoured for the role until his first choices became available. The film was voted the greatest British film of all time by a panel of Time Out magazine film experts and regularly charts on lists of the best horror films of all time.

5) NATIONAL LAMPOON’S ANIMAL HOUSE (1978)

Director John Landis

Often cited as one of the most iconic comedies of its generation, the film includes many of the era’s best comics and character actors, most notably Saturday Night Live’s John Belushi in his first big screen role. The film, which follows the misfit members of a fraternity as they go up against the dean of the college, was produced by National Lampoon’s Matty Simmons as well as Ivan Reitman, and written by Harold Ramis, Douglas Kenney and Chris Miller. It went on to gross $121 million in North America and a lifetime domestic gross of $141.6 million. Sutherland stars as Professor Dave Jenning. According to the director, Universal did not consider Belushi a big enough name to carry the film so Landis, who had worked on Kelly’s Heroes and was friends with Sutherland suggested him for a role to secure the deal.

6) INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS (1978)

Director Philip Kaufman

In Philip Kaufman’s adaptation of Jack Finney’s novel , Sutherland stars as Matthew, his most heroic, mainstream role at the time. Matthew is a slightly removed restaurant inspector who gradually comes to realise that the residents around him have been inhabited by an alien invasion. From Matthew’s amusing introduction to his seeming delight in inspiring hate in those around him to the shot where the camera nearly dives down his throat, this role brings together Sutherland’s comedic, dramatic and horror experience in a fun way.

7) ORDINARY PEOPLE (1980)

Director Robert Redford

In Robert Redford’s Oscar-winning directorial debut, Sutherland plays the patriarch of a WASP family dealing with the death of their favourite son in a boating accident. Sutherland brings his usual understated power to the role as he stars opposite Mary Tyler Moore, Judd Hirsh and Timothy Hutton, desperately trying to hold the family together as they fall apart in their grief.

8) JFK (1991)

Director Oliver Stone

Oliver Stones’s acclaimed political thriller examines the events leading up to the assassination of President John F Kennedy by New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison, played by Kevin Costner, and the alleged cover up. Through the course of the investigation, Costner’s Garrison goes to Washington to meet an unnamed government insider, X, played by Sutherland in a cameo role. In a pivotal scene, Sutherland delivers a lengthy monologue with his typical brilliance covering the breadth and depth of the conspiracy.

9) PRIDE & PREJUDICE (2004)

Director: Joe Wright

In what some may see as surprising casting, Sutherland played the iconic role of Mr Bennett in Joe Wright’s adaptation of Jane Austen’s classic, Pride & Prejudice, opposite Keira Knightley and Rosalind Pike. The director, Wright, had had Sutherland in mind for the role, which requires a sense of restraint, benign self-suffering bemusement and understated humour.

10) THE HUNGER GAMES (2012)

Director: Gary Ross

According to an interview Sutherland did with GQ, he divulged that he aggressively pursued the role of President Snow in The Hunger Games trilogy. Despite not being offered the role, not being familiar with the source material and only having read a script in which the character had a brief description consisting only of a few lines for fun, Sutherland was convinced he was the man for the role and wrote the filmmakers a letter. The director Gary Ross agreed and actually added the rose garden scene to the film. As a result, Sutherland joined a cast of established and rising stars, helping steer the franchise to become one of the most successful of all time.

DON’T LOOK NOW will open in UK cinemas on July 5, and also will be released on DVD, Blu-Ray, EST and in a new collector’s edition on July 29.

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