Donald Sutherland – an astonishing versatility

 Donald Sutherland whose extraordinary range as an actor glided him smoothly from Fellini art house dramas, through Sylvester Stallone prison lockup fare, Jane Austen adaptations to raunchy slapstick, has died. He started with eccentric parts in war films, like the “The Dirty Dozen”,  as Sgt. Oddball in “Kelly’s Heroes” and then his breakout part in “M.A.S.H.”. And continued on to appear in 150 screen roles over five decades, winding his way between art-house and mainstream.  “Klute”, “Animal House”, “Ordinary People”, “Backdraft”, “JFK” “Six Degrees of Separation” and “The Hunger Games”. Described as shape-shifting and chameleon-like he brought a presence to every role he played but always as part of an ensemble.

 His early romantic life was tumultuous with two marriages and divorces, multiple affairs including with Jane Fonda, before he settled with Francine Racette, whom he was married to for more than five decades.

 He was born 17 July 1935 11.30am St John, NB, Canada, and as a child, he had rheumatic fever, hepatitis, and poliomyelitis. He had a challenging, super-determined but fairly tortured Cancer Sun conjunct Pluto square Mars in Libra. He also had a wide innovative Water Grand Trine of Saturn in Pisces (in his 6th house of health) trine Mercury in Cancer and trine Jupiter in Scorpio  – with a creative Saturn opposition Venus Neptune in Virgo and Jupiter widely opposition an 8th house Uranus. 

 His Aquarius Moon in his 5th house on the point of a wide-ish T square to his Jupiter opposition Uranus would direct him towards a career of performing.  His accentuated 8th house Uranus would give him the ability to play oddball, slightly mad characters – and since it also was conjunct his Sun/Moon midpoint would make committed one-to-one partnerships tricky to maintain.

  A hugely complex personality, multi-talented but not altogether at ease with himself.

 His son Kiefer Sutherland, 21 December 1966 9am London, England, also a talented actor, best known recently for 24 and Designated Survivor, like his father has had a complicated relationship life, and alcohol problems.

  He has a 12th house Sagittarius Sun on the focal point of a Mutable T Square to an 8th house Uranus Pluto opposition Saturn so he will be driven by chaotic impulses. His 10th house creative Neptune is trine his Saturn; and his Aries Moon in in a volatile opposition to Mars and square a charming Venus in Capricorn on his Ascendant.  His Neptune is also square his Sun/Moon midpoint which will give him problems settling down to marital togetherness.

6 thoughts on “Donald Sutherland – an astonishing versatility

  1. Sorry, a bit late but what a presence that man had and some of his early films were extraordinary.
    Klute and Dont Look Now are masterpieces, as is the often unremembered The Day of the Locust. His performance was incredible, possibly his best.
    They all had a huge impact on me but Klute opened my eyes to the charms of Jolie-Laide men.
    I’ve had a thing for them and buzzcuts ever since 😉

  2. Thank you Marjorie. He will be greatly missed.

    ‘Ordinary People’ – the first movie I saw starring DS, where Sutherland plays the father of two sons, one of whom has died, the other who is struggling mentally in the aftermath of a suicide attempt and is married to an emotionally cold woman (Mary Tyler Moore) depicts the way the dysfunction of upper middle class modern families can operate – behind a surface of poise and perfection which becomes a prison for the other suffering family members. Sutherland plays a father stranded between mother and son, who eventually comes to realise, slowly and painfully that his wife has no empathy or love for their surviving son. It’s agonising and yet beautiful because Sutherland’s performance is so subtle and heartbreaking.


    • @Virgoflake, interesting you’d mention a film in which he played a parent. I’m usually not a big 2005 “Pride and Prejudice” mo CV movie fan, I mostly prefer every 1995 series cast member in their respective roles. But while Benjamin Whitrow as Mr Bennett was good, I find Donald Sutherland sublime in that role. Really brought in the miscellaneous side of the character I loved reading the original.

  3. As a child of the 1980’s (born in the 1970’s, but my memories of World affairs start from the 1980, specifically Moscow Olympics), who watched every film that was shown in TV, I learnt to know Donald Sutherland from his oddball and villain roles. But it seemed he was everywhere, and loved him, he was one of those actors who ALWAYS stole the scene. And I’m not alone. Yesterday, I posted about him passing at Facebook, and a connection I hanged around a lot in the early 2010’s, but have hardly been in touch since, shared thoughts. We both loved Burt Lancaster and him in Bertolucci’s “1900”, while we were led to love Gerald Depardieu’s character Olmo. So, he was undoubtedly a big influence for many of us tailend Gen X kids.

    For me, personally, his Uranus was opposite my NN/Uranus/Venus in Scorpio, Sun/Pluto squared and Mars sextiled my Mars. No wonder I got the vibe!

  4. Absolutely loved Donald Sutherland in everything he was in, even if I didn’t necessarily like the film. Very sad at his passing.

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