Donald Sutherland, father of Kiefer. -- Chris Wahl, Sun





Toronto Film Festival 1997


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Saturday, September 13, 1997

The Donald of style

New loves and old for the star of the assignment

By LIZ BRAUN -- Toronto Sun

Donald Sutherland  It's sort of dangerous to be in the same room as Donald Sutherland and his new wife.
 
 There's an immediate electricity between the actor and his bride, just that sort of honeymoon-ish thing you'd expect from two people who've only been married a few months.
 
 That Sutherland and his wife, Francine Racette, have been together for 25 years and have a couple of children together, well -- there's probably some logical explanation for all this.
 
 "I've been asking her to marry me for 25 years," says the actor, cheerfully explaining yesterday at the Four Seasons Hotel that the ceremony was at their home this summer and that Racette wore the wedding dress he bought for her some 20 years ago.
 
 "She told me it was inappropriate, as I'd bought it when she was five months pregnant," he says, smiling. "She always said she didn't want to be married to anyone, but the children convinced her."
 
 Sutherland is in Toronto promoting The Assignment, a new film from Canadian director Christian Duguay. The political thriller stars Sutherland, Aidan Quinn, Ben Kingsley and Al Waxman, and concerns one man's guilt-driven obsession with finding the international terrorist, Carlos "The Jackal". Aspects of the film are based on real events.
 
 The movie kicks off with a particularly gruesome and wonderfully filmed explosion in a Parisian cafe. That stunt, says Sutherland, was a bit of a disaster for Duguay.
 
 The scene was filmed in Montreal. "The windows in the cafe were supposed to break with the explosion, and they did not," explains the actor, who has just the sort of voice and general presence (as if millions of movie-goers hadn't already noticed) that telegraph intelligence. "So the whole place imploded and then blew out again."
 
 Sutherland has nothing but praise for Duguay. The actor mentions that his own character in The Assignment, that of the obsessed CIA agent, was the one that deviated most from the script.
 
 And if that means Sutherland helped create the character himself, it would partly explain how he hijacks the movie away from his co-stars, psychologically dominating the narrative. But that's another story.
 
 Sutherland has been very busy of late. There's his on-going Volvo voice-over, he just narrated a documentary about CIA drug experiments in the '50s and '60s and he has a stack of features up-coming, including Fallen with Denzel Washington and Free Money with Marlon Brando.
 
 On his own time, Sutherland is a major reader and is known to write quite a lot, but he goes a tad vague when pressed for specifics on the writing.
 
 He'll admit to keeping a journal, and in this world o' E-Mail, he's still a letter-writer. He writes a lot to his children. Most of all, he says, he writes to his wife.
 
 "It's the best life in the world," summarizes the happy groom.

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