×
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

More Film

  • Laura Linney Cast in Viggo Mortensen

    Laura Linney Joins Viggo Mortensen's Family Drama 'Falling'

    Laura Linney, Hannah Gross, and Terry Chen have joined the cast of Viggo Mortensen’s family drama “Falling.” The movie will be Mortensen’s directorial debut. He’s also producing, wrote the screenplay, and is playing one of the two leading roles in a story about a son’s relationship with his aging father. Production is currently underway in Toronto. [...]

  • Maya Erskine-Jack Quaid Romcom 'Plus One'

    Maya Erskine-Jack Quaid Rom-Com 'Plus One' Sells Ahead of Tribeca Premiere

    Romantic comedy “Plus One,” starring Maya Erskine and Jack Quaid, has sold to RLJE Films in a pre-emptive deal for low seven figures ahead of its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival. “Plus One” is written and directed by Jeff Chan (“Adam Ruins Everything”) and Andrew Rhymer (Pregame). The film also stars Ed Begley, [...]

  • Alan Horn Disney

    Walt Disney Studios Leaders Say Fox Deal Represents 'Exciting New Chapter'

    Walt Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and President Alan Bergman are asking Fox staffers to be patient while the company begins the complicate work of integrating the two motion picture teams. Both men were on Fox’s Century City lot for meetings with executives. In a memo, Bergman and Horn said they would try to be [...]

  • DOHA, QATAR - MARCH 17: DOHA,

    Doha Film Institute's Qumra Wraps, Bolstering Status as Top Arab Cinema Event

    The Doha Film Institute’s unique Qumra workshop wrapped its fifth edition on Wednesday following six days of masterclasses, labs and mentoring sessions that bolstered the DFI’s status as the prime entity fostering Arab filmmaking and connecting directors from most of the region with the rest of the world.  Programmers from Cannes, Venice, Toronto, Berlin and [...]

  • Tribeca Film Festival'Venus in Fur' film

    Tribeca Film Institute Honors 14 Films with Grants in Tribeca All Access Program

    The Tribeca Film Institute has announced the 14 films to be honored with grants at the 16th annual Tribeca All Access program, which amplifies stories from underrepresented voices. Seven films and seven documentaries will earn grants from the program to aid their productions, many of them having not received previous funding. The filmmakers will attend [...]

  • Black Panther Movie

    Global Box Office Flat in 2018, Netflix and Subscription Services Rise in Popularity

    The domestic box office rebounded in 2018 in a recovery fueled by blockbusters such as “Black Panther” and “Incredibles 2.” Ticket sales in the U.S. climbed 7% to top out at a record $11.9 billion, according to a new report by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA). That helped off-set declines in overseas markets [...]

  • Variety Massive Entertainment Marketing Summit

    Showbiz Marketers Look to Netflix's Data Expertise as They Build Their Own Campaigns

    Netflix’s ability to profit from its secret sauce of granular consumer data has made it the envy of Hollywood. Now, with Disney, Warner Media and others prepping their own ambitious services to challenge the streaming insurgents, entertainment marketers will face more competitive pressures than ever. But at the same time, new marketing tools are emerging [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content