W5's intimate interview with Kiefer Sutherland about life, acting and music
Published Friday, January 19, 2018 1:00PM EST
There is a fake U.S. president in a fake Oval office, who understands the Canadian psyche.
He goes by the name Tom Kirkman. Once a low level secretary, Kirkman was catapulted into the role of Commander-in-chief after a terrorist attack. Not to worry. In reality, this is the plotline of the CTV show, "Designated Survivor", and the man who knows us well, is the star, Canadian actor Kiefer Sutherland.
W5 was given rare access to interview Sutherland, in a mock-up of the Oval office, a set identical in size and detail to the real thing. It’s located in an industrial studio complex in Toronto.
I have to admit I was a "24" junkie, so coming face to face with the fearless U.S. counter-terrorism agent Jack Bauer, was on my bucket list. It’s a character Kiefer Sutherland inhabited and brought to life.
It’s eerie how much Kiefer looks like his father, the legendary actor Donald Sutherland. His mannerisms and facial expressions are the same, although he is shorter in stature. Kiefer says his dad instilled in him a passion for storytelling.
Although he now lives in the U.S., it’s obvious Kiefer loves this country, loves coming home, and loves walking the streets of downtown Toronto without fear.
When speaking about his mom, the actress Shirley Douglas, Kiefer’s face lights up. He laughingly admits, she might only be 5'2", but she was the only person who ever frightened him. She was a force to be reckoned with, and as an actor he wanted her approval.
Kiefer grew up in Toronto with his mother and twin sister Rachel, after his parents separated. Watching Douglas perform on stage in the theatre, he says, inspired him to become an actor.
But he was also inspired by his late grandfather, Tommy Douglas, the former premier of Saskatchewan, father of Medicare and founder of the federal NDP. Canadian political royalty. Kiefer calls him the greatest man he’s ever known. The twins spent summers with him at the cottage, until they were in their late teens. Kiefer remembers Tommy Douglas taking them to Parliament. They would sit in the upper deck and Stanley Knowles, an MP at the time, and close friend of the senior Douglas, would sneak the kids hot dogs. It’s a fond memory that makes him smile.
Douglas was not just grandfather, Kiefer says, he was teacher, mentor and the instigator of family- oriented events. He even taught a young Kiefer to drive a car in an abandoned parking lot.
Now a dad himself, Kiefer says, he’s better at parenting, because of his role models and the legacy handed down to him, including his name.
Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland. Now that’s a mouthful!
The explanation: Kiefer says when he was born, his parents were poor. The actor Christopher Plummer paid their way from England to America and Donald Sutherland made him an IOU, which daughter Amanda Plummer tells Kiefer, her dad insists is still owed. The joke around the Sutherland homestead was that Donald owed a lot of people money and he promised to name his first born son after them.
In reality he is named Kiefer, after Warren Kiefer, who wrote Donald’s first TV role in England. William is a middle name. Dempsey is Kiefer’s mother’s mother’s maiden name. Frederick is his father’s father’s first name. George was his father’s best friend George Metcalfe. And no one knows where Rufus comes from, and apparently Donald Sutherland hasn’t said.
Kiefer Sutherland and Sandie Rinaldo on the Toronto set of 'Designated Survivor' (W5)
You can watch the interview with Kiefer Sutherland on Saturday, January 20, 2018 on CTV’s W5 at 7pm.