Actor Donald Sutherland, star of Hunger Games and Don’t Look Now, dies aged 88

Sutherland’s acting career spanned six decades and more than 190 films and TV shows

Actor Donald Sutherland has died in Miami aged 88 after a long illness. Photograph: Daniel Leal/PA Wire

Actor Donald Sutherland has died aged 88 after a long illness.

His acting career spanned six decades and included starring in such highly acclaimed films as Don’t Look Now, M*A*S*H and The Hunger Games.

His son, actor Kiefer Sutherland, shared the news on X (formerly Twitter).

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away,” he wrote.


“I personally think 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.”

A prolific actor who appeared in more than 190 films and TV shows, Sutherland embodied an off-kilter appeal that served him brilliantly in a series of classic 1970s movies, which gradually evolved into a veteran gravitas in the latter stages of his career.

He did not win a major award for any of his film roles (and was never nominated for a conventional Oscar), but did win two Golden Globes for best supporting actor for the TV movies Citizen X (in 1996) and Path to War (in 2003). Sutherland received an honorary Oscar in 2017.

Donald Sutherland, receiving an honorary Oscar in 2017. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Donald Sutherland and son Kiefer at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival. Photograph: George Pimentel/WireImage

Born in Canada in 1935, Sutherland studied engineering and drama at the University of Toronto, and opted to move to London in 1957 to join an acting class at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (Lamda).

After a series of small roles on British TV shows including Man of the World, The Saint and The Avengers, and films such as the Hammer horror film Fanatic and the Amicus anthology Dr Terror’s House of Horrors, Sutherland was cast in the action film The Dirty Dozen, as one of a group of prisoners trained up for a dangerous mission during the second world war.

The Dirty Dozen was a hit and Sutherland then appeared in two more war films with anti-heroic sensibilities: the massively influential Korean War comedy M*A*S*H, in which Sutherland played rule-bending surgeon “Hawkeye” Pierce, and Kelly’s Heroes, as a whacked-out tank commander who joins Clint Eastwood’s bank robbery.

While working on the latter film, in 1968, Sutherland said he “died for a few seconds” as a result of contracting meningitis.

Sutherland’s work became more radical: he played the title role in Klute, opposite Jane Fonda’s sex worker, as a detective investigating a murder in the first of director Alan J Pakula’s so-called “paranoia trilogy” and appeared with Fonda in the anti-Vietnam War documentary FTA.

In 2017, declassified documents showed that Sutherland, a vocal anti-war activist, was on the National Security Agency’s “watch list” between 1971 and 1973.

Sutherland then embarked on a wide variety of roles as he attained leading man status.

In 1973 he starred opposite Julie Christie in Don’t Look Now, the Nicolas Roeg-directed psychological horror, which contained a then-infamous sex scene, intercut with Christie and Sutherland getting dressed, which Sutherland was repeatedly forced to deny was authentic.

He then starred in Federico Fellini’s Casanova, played murderous fascist Attila Melanchini in Bernardo Bertolucci’s epic 1900, and featured alongside Michael Caine as a duplicitous IRA man in war thriller The Eagle Has Landed.

He played a dope-smoking professor in National Lampoon’s Animal House, and fought “pod people” in a remake of the horror sci-fi Invasion of the Body Snatchers – giving rise to a popular gif of the film’s final moments.

In 1980 he led an impressive ensemble cast in Robert Redford’s directorial debut, Ordinary People, after Gene Hackman had dropped out of the role.

In the 1980s and 90s Sutherland was mostly cast in character roles, including an art dealer in Six Degrees of Separation, the mysterious Mr “X” in Oliver Stone’s JFK who suggests there is a high-level coup inside the US government, and slayer trainer Merrick Jamison-Smythe in the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie starring Kristy Swanson.

Sutherland also had prominent roles in the legal thriller A Time to Kill (alongside his son Kiefer), the astronaut drama Space Cowboys and the Jane Austen adaptation Pride & Prejudice.

In 2012 his role as the villainous President Snow in The Hunger Games introduced him to a new generation of filmgoers. He also starred in Stephen King horror Mr Harrigan’s Phone and disaster thriller Moonfall in 2022.

Most recently, he had a recurring role in TV series Lawmen: Bass Reeves with David Oyelowo.

Sutherland was married three times, to Lois Hardwick between 1959 and 1966, Shirley Douglas (1966-1970)​ and Francine Racette, whom he married in 1972. – Guardian