×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Playback: Honorary Oscar Recipient Donald Sutherland Reflects on His Career

Welcome to “Playback,” a Variety podcast bringing you exclusive conversations with the talents behind many of today’s hottest films.

The film Academy’s Governors Awards ceremony is set for this weekend, honoring filmmakers Charles Burnett and Agnes Varda, cinematographer Owen Roizman and actor Donald Sutherland. Sutherland’s name in particular was a heavy favorite in advance of this year’s honorees announcement, as Oscar recognition for the esteemed star has been elusive. So it’s a perfect time to dive into one of the legendary screen careers.

Listen to this week’s episode of “Playback” below. New episodes air every Thursday.

Click here for more episodes of “Playback.”

Sutherland is currently filming James Gray’s “Ad Astra” and Danny Boyle’s “Trust” (in which he plays oil tycoon J. Paul Getty). So while these kinds of things can have a “lifetime achievement” vibe for some, the actor is still very much at the top of his game. Indeed, his recent schedule has been so overloaded he fell asleep in the dentist’s chair while having his tooth drilled on this very morning, as he’s been flying from Quebec to Los Angeles to Venice to Rome and all points in between.

Despite a still-chugging career, and unlike Peter O’Toole, who initially turned down the honorary Oscar accolade in 2003 stating he still “might win the lovely bugger outright” (he eventually buckled and graciously accepted), Sutherland was instantly overjoyed to be honored in this way, at this time.

“I don’t think I’m overdue but certainly we’re running out of time at 82,” he says with a laugh. “It was a huge surprise.”

In 30 minutes you do what you can with a man who has amassed nearly 180 screen credits in his time. Sutherland digs in on stories about “JFK” and “Ordinary People,” as well as filmmakers like Michael Crichton and Federico Fellini. It was Robert Altman’s “MASH” that launched his star, however, and in turn spawned one of the most successful television series in history.

“I didn’t see it but I was aware of it,” Sutherland says of the Emmy-winning show. “Years later I was in a lineup for the Queen Mother and Prince Phillip, and the man standing beside me kind of elbowed me in the ribs. He said, ‘My name is Alan Alda and I want to thank you for my life.’ And I thought, ‘That’s about as charming and as lovely and as generous as you can be.’ It was brilliant. So I have the fondest memories of that series even though I’m not that familiar with it!”

For more, including discussion of Sutherland’s new film “The Leisure Seeker” and one of the funniest Don Rickles stories you’ve heard, listen to the latest episode of “Playback” via the streaming link above.

Subscribe to “Playback” at iTunes.

Donald Sutherland photographed exclusively for the Variety Playback Podcast.
Dan Doperalski for Variety

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    Why Emma Stone Was Haunted by Fear of Vomiting While Shooting 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains a slight spoiler for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” The zombie slayers are back! Ten years after Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin first killed dead people walking in “Zombieland,” they’ve reunited for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” “You take stock of your life a little bit,” Stone says of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content