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'Supreme excellence': Trudeau, Hollywood stars honour famed Canadian actor Donald Sutherland

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Family, Hollywood peers and other famous fans paid tribute to Donald Sutherland Thursday afternoon following news of his death, lauding the Canadian actor as a screen legend and a brilliant artist.

Actor Kiefer Sutherland announced his father's death at 88 in a social media post in which he also reflected on the elder Sutherland's love for his craft.

"I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film," he wrote in a post on X.

The two starred together in several projects throughout the late actor's career, including the films "Max Dugan Returns" in 1983, "Forsaken" in 2015, and "A Time to Kill" in 1996.

"Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that. A life well lived," Kiefer Sutherland said.

The late Canadian actor has garnered similar praise from some high profile fans, including at least one head of government. Speaking to reporters in Nova Scotia Thursday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recalled the experience of meeting Sutherland when he was young.

"Even as a young man who hadn't had a full exposure to the depth of brilliance of Donald Sutherland, I was deeply, deeply star-struck," Trudeau said. "He was a man with a strong presence, a brilliance in his craft, and truly, truly a great Canadian artist. And he will be deeply missed."

Trudeau expressed sympathy for Sutherland's family, "as well as all Canadians who are no doubt saddened to learn, as I am right now."

Canadian poet, novelist and literary critic Margaret Atwood took a moment Thursday to point out that she and Sutherland were both alumni of the University of Toronto's Victoria College. Atwood graduated in 1961, while Sutherland graduated a few years earlier, in 1958.

"He was a great actor even then," she wrote on X.

Not long after Atwood, Victoria College shared its own tribute to Sutherland, honouring his "extraordinary life and seven-decade career on stage and in television and movies."

Hollywood reacts

Sutherland's career spanned more than half a century, and included approximately 200 film and television credits, so it's no surprise Hollywood was also sounding off on the actor's death Thursday afternoon.

"Donald was a brilliant actor and a complex man who shared quite a few adventures with me, such as the FTA Show, an anti-Vietnam war tour that performed for 60,000 active duty soldiers, sailors, and marines in Hawaii, Okinawa, the Philippines, and Japan in 1971," Jane Fonda, who was Sutherland's co-star in the 1971 film "Klute," wrote on Instagram.

"I am heartbroken."

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jane Fonda (@janefonda)

Helen Mirren, who co-starred with Sutherland in 2017's "The Leisure Seekers," called him "one of the smartest actors I ever worked with."

"He had a wonderful enquiring brain, and a great knowledge on a wide variety of subjects," she said in a statement shared with The Associated Press. "He combined this great intelligence with a deep sensitivity, and with a seriousness about his profession as an actor. This all made him into the legend of film that he became."

Elliott Gould acted alongside Sutherland in 1970 comedy war film "M.A.S.H.," and likened him to a big brother in a statement to The Associated Press.

"Donald was a giant, not only physically but as a talent. He was also enormously kind and generous," he said. "It's never easy losing the caliber of a human being and actor like Donald Sutherland, but this one really profoundly hurts because Donald was like my brother, and a big part of my own career."

Michael Douglas, who starred alongside Sutherland in the 1994 film "Disclosure," called the actor "a lovely, talented and curious man," in a post on Instagram.

Rob Lowe, who worked with Sutherland on a television adaptation of Stephen King's "Salem's Lot," called Sutherland "one of our greatest actors," in a tribute on X.

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

Director Ron Howard said he was "blessed" to work with Sutherland on his film "Backdraft."

"One of the most intelligent, interesting and engrossing film actors of all time," he wrote in a social media post. "Incredible range, creative courage and dedication to serving the story and the audience with supreme excellence."

Elijah Wood, who acted alongside Sutherland in the 2012 television mini-series "Treasure Island," also took to social media to pay tribute to the late actor Thursday.

"Donald Sutherland came about as close to mastering the craft of acting as anyone gets. So many genius performances," actor Tom Blyth, who portrayed a younger version of Sutherland's "Hunger Games" character in a prequel, wrote in a post on Instagram.

"I never had the honor of knowing him personally, but it was the honor of a lifetime to follow in his footsteps."

Adam Nimoy, son of "Star Trek" actor Leonard Nimoy, shared a photo on X of Sutherland with his father and actor Jeff Goldblum on the set of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," in which the three starred together. 

"Donald Sutherland. What an incredible talent," he wrote.

Edgar Wright, an English filmmaker and actor known for his films "Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz" and "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," credited Sutherland with starring in two of his favourite and "most influential" films: "Don’t Look Now" and the 1978 "Invasion Of The Body Snatchers."

"But that is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of his legendary filmography; a funny, laconic, but also intense and dramatic presence in so many memorable movies, starting with his break-through in 'The Dirty Dozen,' and then on an incredible run in the 70’s, 80’s and beyond with 'M*A*S*H,' 'Kelly’s Heroes,' 'Little Murders,' 'Klute,' 'Don’t Look Now,' 'The Day Of The Locust,' 'Ordinary People and 'JFK’, among many others," he wrote in a post on social media.

"So sorry to see you go Donald, but what a legacy you leave behind."Here is what other fans are saying about Sutherland.

Like Wright, fans of Sutherland's took to social media Thursday to share how his work sparked or shaped their love of cinema.

Some simply listed their favourite Donald Sutherland performances.

Here is what other fans are saying about Sutherland.

This is a developing story. More details to come.  

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