20240620 donald sutherland
Actor Donald Sutherland. Image Credit: AFP

Los Angeles: Donald Sutherland, the enigmatic Canadian actor whose lengthy career encompassed films including "The Dirty Dozen" and "The Hunger Games," has died, his son said Thursday. He was 88.

"With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away," actor Kiefer Sutherland wrote on X.

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The elder Sutherland had a distinctive look - and piercing eyes - that brought a depth and mystery to the huge range of roles he essayed over half a century on the big screen.

He played dashing leading men as well as antiheroes and villains, most recently making a name among a new generation of fans as the evil President Snow in "The Hunger Games" franchise.

"I personally think (he was) one of the most important actors in the history of film. 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," wrote Kiefer Sutherland.

After what he himself termed a "meandering" start to his acting career, Donald Sutherland came to prominence in Robert Aldrich's "The Dirty Dozen," where 12 convicts are tasked with carrying out what appears to be a suicide mission in occupied France.

Starring alongside luminaries such as Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin and Telly Savalas, Sutherland's impish charms caught the attention of producers of "MASH."

The sophisticated satire on the Vietnam War, in which he was cast opposite Elliott Gould, turned Sutherland into a household name in 1970s America, and opened the door to a durable career that would see him work with some of the biggest names in show business.

Five key films of Donald Sutherland
'The Dirty Dozen' (1967)
In his first big screen role, Sutherland starred alongside Lee Marvin and Charles Bronson in Robert Aldrich's film set in World War II.
He played an army sergeant whose 30-year prison term for murder will be suspended if he survives a mission to assassinate German officers in Nazi-occupied France.

'M*A*S*H' (1970)
Sutherland's star turn in the anti-war black comedy hit "M*A*S*H", directed by Robert Altman, as snarky, charming US Army surgeon Hawkeye Pierce brought him wider recognition.
The role was taken over by Alan Alda for the subsequent television show about the zany field hospital in Korea.

'Klute' (1971)
Sutherland starred as enigmatic small-town private detective John Klute, who gets entangled with a New York call girl (Jane Fonda) as he hunts for a missing man in this suspense thriller directed by Alan J. Pakula.
The film is the highlight of Sutherland's partnership, both private and professional, with Fonda, who won an Oscar for her work.

'JFK' (1991)
In Oliver Stone's biopic, Sutherland played the chilling role of X, a shadowy intelligence figure who gives crucial information to a district attorney (Kevin Costner) investigating the politics surrounding the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

'The Hunger Games' (2012)
Sutherland glowered as the tyrannical President Coriolanus Snow, ruling over a post-apocalyptic state, in this blockbuster film and its sequels, delivering what The Hollywood Reporter called a "sinister performance".
The franchise is based on a series of best-selling young adult novels by Suzanne Collins.