Hollywood Didn’t Know Exactly What to Do With Donald Sutherland – So They Did Everything With Him

Daryl Sparkes at The Conversation: I don’t think Hollywood knew what to do with Donald Sutherland, who has died at age 88. He was not your classically handsome A-list actor like contemporaries Warren Beatty or Robert Redford, nor was he solely suited to the “tough guy” roles such as Robert De Niro, Al Pacino or Gene Hackman. Instead, his early film career was defined by eccentric, peculiar or “quirky” roles, roles that seemed to sit well with him for the rest of his life.

Born in Canada in 1935, Sutherland began his career in television in the 1960s. His first film was a small role in The Dirty Dozen (1967) alongside Charles Bronson and Lee Marvin.

Sutherland’s breakout year was 1970, in which he took major parts in two hit films, the Clint Eastwood vehicle Kelly’s Heroes, where he played tank commander Oddball, and Robert Altman’s M*A*S*H, where he played “Hawkeye” Pierce. Both were offbeat 60s hippie-ish characters.

These idiosyncratic characters seemed to work well with Sutherland, and he take such roles time and again.

The 1970s saw Sutherland play the leading man in a range of films such as the psychological horror Don’t Look Now (1973), the second world war feature The Eagle Has Landed (1976) and one of his stand out films of this era, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978).

The last shot of this film, with a now alien Sutherland shrieking at one of the last humans left in the world, is regarded as one of the most shocking and most perfect endings to a film.

More here.