Donald Sutherland - The Man

He was in "M*A*S*H", "Klute", and "JFK". He had a romantic relationship with Jane Fonda and was, he said, director Fellini's "concubine". He nearly died while making "The Dirty Dozen"; and, reported a casting agent, "he doesn't look like he lives next door to anyone."

Donald Sutherland, father of Kiefer, is one of the most interesting men I have ever met. He doesn't try to be cool, he quotes Brecht and Brodsky, and is distant one minute and strikingly personal the next. His passion never sounds forced.

Someone called him a "beautiful giraffe" and that captures his size and elegance. Since childhood in Nova Scotia he's known that he's no matinee idol in the looks department, but his lanky, bulgy eyed performances in films like "Don't Look Now" and "Klute" are as physically striking as any in the movies of the 70s.

I met him in a hotel in Los Angeles to do a Scene by Scene interview. His publicist had been very tough, very demanding. Then Sutherland walked in, white hair flowing, dark glasses, one of the few tall movie stars, rich voice booming. He was cautious at first, sussing me out, giving short answers with long pauses. We spoke of "M*A*S*H", how crazy the shoot was, the anarchy of the script and as we looked at clips, he'd offer more information, tell subsequent stories without prompting.

Donald Sutherland - Jane Fonda, "Klute", and "Don't Look Now".

Donald Sutherland - After "Don't Look Now".

You can see Mark Cousins talking with Donald Sutherland in Scene by Scene on BBC2, Thursday 22nd March 2001 at 11.20pm.