PM Justin Trudeau remembers ‘truly great Canadian artist’ Donald Sutherland

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has remembered actor-turned-activist Donald Sutherland as “truly a great Canadian artist” following his death aged 88.

Mr Trudeau first learned of Hollywood star Sutherland’s death while hosting a news conference in Westville, Canada, related to the national school food programme.

“I didn’t know, thank you for telling me,” he told the journalist.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with his hands in his pockets and smiling while wearing a suit and an open collar shirt
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press via AP)

“I had the opportunity when I was much younger to meet Donald Sutherland and even as a young man who hadn’t had a full exposure to the depth of brilliance of Donald Sutherland, I was deeply, deeply starstruck.

“He was a man with a strong presence, a brilliance in his craft, and truly a great Canadian artist and he will be deeply missed.

“My thoughts go out to Kiefer and the entire Sutherland family, as well as all Canadians who are no doubt saddened to learn as I am right now.”

During his esteemed career, Sutherland garnered hundreds of film and TV credits alongside star-studded casts.

Among those paying tribute was British actress Dame Helen Mirren, who appeared alongside Sutherland in 2017’s The Leisure Seeker, following their 1990 drama Bethune: The Making Of A Hero.

Donald Sutherland and Dame Helen Mirren
Donald Sutherland and Dame Helen Mirren attend the photocall for The Leisure Seeker during the 74th Venice Film Festival in Venice (Paul Treadway/Alamy)

“Donald Sutherland was one of the smartest actors I ever worked with,” Dame Helen said in a statement given to the PA news agency.

“He had a wonderful enquiring brain, and a great knowledge on a wide variety of subjects.

“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. He was my colleague and became my friend. I will miss his presence in this world.”

Meanwhile two-time Oscar winner Michael Douglas, who starred in 1994 film Disclosure alongside Sutherland and Demi Moore, shared a picture of the pair together on Instagram.

“What a lovely, talented, and curious man. RIP Donald Sutherland,” he wrote.

US star Rob Lowe, who lead the cast of Salem’s Lot in 2004, based on Stephen King’s novel, opposite Sutherland, said “today we lost one of our greatest actors” in a post on X.

“It was my honour to work with him many years ago, and I will never forget his charisma and ability.

“If you want a master class in acting, watch him in Ordinary People”, Lowe said.

Sutherland starred in drama Ordinary People in 1980, which later won four Oscars, including best picture, supporting actor for Timothy Hutton while Robert Redford won the gong for best director.

It came a decade before Sutherland starred in US thriller Backdraft, opposite Robert De Niro, Kurt Russell and William Baldwin.

“One of the most intelligent, interesting and engrossing film actors of all time,” Backdraft director Ron Howard said on X.

“Incredible range, creative courage and dedication to serving the story and the audience with supreme excellence.”