Donald Sutherland Dies at 88: His 10 Most Memorable Roles

Donald Sutherland, whose legendary Hollywood career began in the late 1960s, died on June 20 at the age of 88, according to his son, actor Kiefer Sutherland, who broke the news on X.

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away,” he wrote. “I believe he is one of the most influential actors in film history. Never be intimidated by a part, good, bad, or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and you can’t ask for more. “A life well lived.”

The claim that Donald Sutherland was “never daunted by a role” is supported by his extensive filmography, which encompasses heroes, villains, and everything in between.

In honor of his achievements to film and television, we look back at ten of his most memorable performances.

1. Vernon L. Pinkley, The Dirty Dozen (1967).

Donald Sutherland Dies at 88: His 10 Most Memorable Roles
Image Credit: MGM

Sutherland first appeared in The Dirty Dozen as part of the ensemble cast, with Lee Marvin, Ernest Borgnine, and John Cassavetes. Sutherland portrays one of the “dirty dozen,” 12 criminals recruited as commandos by the Allies during WWII.

2. Calvin Jarrett, Ordinary People (1980)

Donald Sutherland Dies at 88: His 10 Most Memorable Roles
Paramount Pictures

Despite all of the accolades bestowed upon him throughout the course of his decades-long career, Sutherland never got an Academy Award nomination. (He received an honorary Oscar in 2017.) Nonetheless, his performance in Best Picture winner Ordinary People, which won an Oscar for Timothy Hutton and received nominations for Mary Tyler Moore and Judd Hirsch, is worth celebrating.

3. Lucien Wilbanks’ A Time to Kill (1996)

Donald Sutherland Dies at 88: His 10 Most Memorable Roles
Warner Bros.

Donald Sutherland and his son Kiefer appear together in A Time to Kill, a Joel Schumacher adaptation of John Grisham’s novel. The elder Sutherland steals the show as Lucien Wilbanks, a former civil rights lawyer who has fallen from grace but still provides Jake Brigance (Matthew McConaughey) with invaluable advice.

4. President Coriolanus Snow, the Hunger Games series (2012-2015)

Donald Sutherland Dies at 88: His 10 Most Memorable Roles

For younger viewers, Sutherland may be best recognized for his towering performance as fascist leader President Coriolanus Snow in the first four Hunger Games films. Sutherland’s performance as the series’ principal adversary helped turn the films into modern genre masterpieces, appealing to both fans of Suzanne Collins’ novel series and newcomers.

5. Mr. X and JFK (1991)

Warner Bros.

Oliver Stone’s conspiracy-minded JFK has its fair share of supporters and opponents. For those who enjoy it, one of its selling points is Sutherland’s lengthy monologue as a clandestine government officer known only as Mr. X (based on L. Fletcher Prouty).


6. John Baxter, Don’t Look Now (1973)

British Lion Films

While Don’t Look today is today universally acknowledged as one of the best horror films ever produced, it was immensely controversial at the time, owing in large part to a love scene between Sutherland and his co-star, Julie Christie. Aside from that, Sutherland delivers one of his best performances as a devastated father on the verge of death.

7. Matthew Bennell’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)

United Artists

Few concluding shots are as iconic as the one in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, a 1978 remake directed by Philip Kaufman. Sutherland portrays a San Francisco Health Department official who discovers that aliens are transforming humans into pod people—and, while (spoiler alert) the character does not survive the invasion, Sutherland does get to make his mark in the end.

8. Capt. Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce Jr., M*A*S*H (1970)

20th Century Fox

While fans of the television series M*A*S*H recognize Alan Alda as Hawkeye, Sutherland played the wisecracking Army surgeon in the 1970 picture. In addition to spawning the long-running sitcom, the Robert Altman picture propelled Sutherland to fame.

9. John Klute, Klute (1971).

Warner Bros.

Sutherland stars as the title detective in Alan J. Pakula’s Klute, where he teams up with call girl Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda). While Fonda’s performance received the most recognition, including an Academy Award, Sutherland was also warmly commended for his work in the gripping thriller.

10. Flanders “Flan” Kittredge, Six Degrees of Separation (1993)


Sutherland and Stockard Channing play high-society New Yorkers duped by a con guy (Will Smith) in Fred Schepisi’s version of John Guare’s play Six Degrees of Separation. Critics complimented all three performances in this humorous but unexpectedly serious picture.

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