Donald Sutherland, revered actor from ‘M*A*S*H’ movie and ‘The Hunger Games,’ dies at 88

But his career has spanned so many beloved projects that he became a household name for multiple generations.

His cinematic legacy covers a breadth of genre, from dramatic roles in “JFK” and “Backdraft” to comedies like “Fool’s Gold,” the 2008 romance caper starring Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey. He also famously revealed his cheekier side in the 1978 comedy classic “Animal House.”

In “The Hunger Games” franchise, he portrayed the villainous Panem President Coriolanus Snow, facing off against Jennifer Lawrence as young heroine Katniss Everdeen. He also played the role of loving father in the 2005 adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice,” which starred Keira Knightley.

A franchise based on a young adult book series, “The Hunger Games” may have seemed an unlikely role for Sutherland. But the actor told the BBC in 2015 that he hoped the blockbuster hit would encourage young people to be more politically involved.

Image: Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland stars as President Snow in “The Hunger Games.”Murray Close

He described the passion of young fans who showed up to premieres as “extraordinary.”

“I have been convinced for the last 30 years that they weren’t thinking politically at all,” he told the BBC. “The purpose of everybody involved in this was try to get them engaged.”

Sutherland also took on roles for the smaller screen, winning an Emmy for HBO’s “Citizen X.” The 1995 made-for-television movie depicted the hunt for a serial killer in the Soviet Union, based on a real-life criminal case.

His television work in recent years included shows such as “Lawmen: Bass Reeves,” “Commander in Chief” and “Crossing Lines.”

Image: Donald Sutherland and his wife Canadian actress Francine Racette
Donald Sutherland and his wife, Canadian actor Francine Racette, at the Cannes Film Festival in France on May 22, 1975. AFP – Getty Images file

Although Sutherland was never nominated for an Academy Award, he was nominated for nine Golden Globes — including for best actor in 1980’s acclaimed Robert Redford-directed film, “Ordinary People” — and won twice, for “Citizen X” and 2002’s HBO original movie “Path to War.” 

Rob Lowe, who co-starred with Sutherland in the miniseries “Salem’s Lot,” offered condolences to his family. He wrote in a post on X that society lost “one of our greatest actors.”

“It was my honor to work with him many years ago, and I will never forget his charisma and ability,” Lowe wrote. “If you want a master class in acting, watch him in ‘Ordinary People’.”

 Jane Fonda, who co-starred with Sutherland in “Klute,” said she was stunned to learn of his death. “We loved working together,” she said in an Instagram post the featured the a photo of the pair.

“I am heartbroken,” Fonda wrote in the post.

Sutherland has five children, daughter Rachel and sons Roeg, Rossif, Angus, and Kiefer. He starred alongside Kiefer — an accomplished actor and star of the “24” TV franchise and movies such as “The Lost Boys” and “Young Guns” — in the film “Forsaken,” a western that centered around the relationship between a father and son.

In a 2016 interview with NBC’s “TODAY” show, he said that when they looked at each other during their scenes they each saw behind the eyes of an actor and into the eyes of father and son.

“It informs the situation and it’s supposed to,” he said. “It’s what we wanted.” 

Image: Actor Donald Sutherland
Donald Sutherland is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, Calif., on Jan. 26, 2011.Robyn Beck / AFP – Getty Images file

Kiefer only had praise for his father, saying it was almost like “cheating” rather than acting.

“I have always felt that not only is my father one of the most prolific actors in the English language, but he’s also one of the most important,” he told the “TODAY” show. “He’s someone I have wanted to work with for my whole career.” 

Sutherland never won an Oscar for any of his roles, but the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences did bestow an honorary award upon him in 2017. Stars such as Colin Farrell, Jennifer Lawrence and Whoopi Goldberg delivered speeches paying tribute to his impact on them personally, as well as the industry.

Farrell described Sutherland’s characters as “distinctive, unforgettable and absolutely unique.”

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