Saturday, October 1

‘Bloor Street’: Success, prison and ‘country’ scenarios: the latest reinvention of Kiefer Sutherland | Culture | ICON

“When this city speaks to me, it tells the story of my life”, sings Kiefer Sutherland (London, 55 years old) in the song Bloor Street, the first preview of his album of the same title, published by Cooking Vinyl and whose publication is scheduled for January 21. The album is the third of his musical career, which he combines since 2016 with his performances in film and television, and the city he pays tribute to in the lyrics is Toronto, the Canadian metropolis where he grew up. A reciprocated affection, as confirmed to Icon his compatriot Christopher Heard, biographer of the actor and singer, to whom he consecrated the unpublished book in Spain Kiefer Sutherland: Living Dangerously (Kiefer Sutherland: Living Dangerously, 2010): “He is highly respected here for what he has achieved and for the family to which he belongs. No one refers to him as ‘actor Kiefer Sutherland’ or ‘movie star Kiefer Sutherland’, but rather as ‘Canadian Kiefer Sutherland’.

But the interpreter was not born in Canada, but in London, in 1966, during the time when his parents, also actors (and also Canadians) Donald Sutherland and Shirley Douglas, worked in the United Kingdom. His given name, Kiefer, is a tribute to Warren Kiefer, co-director of the first feature film in which his father starred, the Italian horror film The castle of the living dead (1964). And much more difficult is to dig into the rest: the full name of the interpreter is Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland.

Donald Sutherland at the Toronto Film Festival with his son Kiefer, in 1984.
Donald Sutherland at the Toronto Film Festival with his son Kiefer, in 1984.Russell; Jim (Toronto Star via Getty Images)

Now with a focused, versatile and consistent career, Sutherland has passed through virtually every phase of the life of a true movie star in record time. He was a popular teenage face thanks to his performances in two 1980s classics such as Count on me (1986) and Hidden youth (1987). On the set of Deadly line (1990) –who could form with the other two an informal trilogy about Kiefer Sutherland’s problems with children–, he met Julia Roberts, with whom he had a romance that was gasoline for the pink press and whose sounded ending is still in the pipeline: the The actress left him on her wedding day to go to Ireland with Jason Patric, a friend and partner of the actor in Hidden youth. After a more irregular nineties, where he cultivated the typical eccentric hobby of famous with money (in his case, one of the most cruel forms of rodeo, the steer roping) and had to accept some roles that, as he has admitted, embarrassed him, Sutherland reached his peak of fame by surprise thanks to the character of Jack Bauer, head of the United States Antiterrorist Unit and hero of the series 24, in which he starred for nine seasons and earned him two Emmy Awards, as an actor and as a producer.

This whole story of rise, fall and resurrection took place before the actor was even 35 years old (he did it in full air of the first season), so, afterwards, there was time for more curves: for example, a good handful of bar fights and a 48-day jail time after multiple arrests for driving under the influence. “The first thing you lose when you walk through the prison doors is your dignity,” Sutherland told 2016 Rolling Stone. Precisely for this reason, in the interview, the actor explained that he had spent part of his time in prison thinking about the songs of the legendary musician from country Johnny Cash: “He wrote about prisoners with a sense of dignity that has always seemed incredible to me.” From that spark was born his first album, illustratively titled Down in a hole (2016).

Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland at the 1991 Oscars.
Julia Roberts and Kiefer Sutherland at the 1991 Oscars.Kypros (Getty Images)

Reconciled with his past

“Kiefer offers the same energy in his musical performances as in his performances. It is more than a hobby for him, he takes it very seriously ”, he assures Icon Sutherland’s biographer, Christopher Heard. Despite the lateness of his foray, the actor was already passionate about music and had up to 100 guitars, according to confessed to the British edition of GQ in 2019. A review in The Guardian from a concert of yours, in 2017, said: “The music country drenched in whiskey the action star is truly moving. He turns his raspy baritone voice into authentic songs about road bar love stories and alcoholism. ” In the 11 tracks of his still unreleased third album, Bloor Street, that Icon heard for the first time, Sutherland continues to move steadily down the path between folk and country which he undertook in his two previous works, here with a varied instrumentation and without fear of pop or romantic lyrics. The normal parameters of someone who, throughout his career, has shown himself capable of wielding a weapon with conviction to protect a presidential candidate in 24 and, at the same time, cry seeing Love Actually, as he has come to confess.

Beyond the nostalgia for his youth in Toronto showcased in the sneak peek, the star seems to have the accounts with his past perfectly settled. After two decades without contact, he made peace with Jason Patric, the friend who betrayed him by leaving with his fiancee Julia Roberts. “It is not a question of whether I forgive him or not. We were friends, so I am surprised that I never received a call explaining that he did it because he had fallen in love or something like that. Instead, I ran into a complete stranger, ”Kiefer Sutherland told Rolling Stone in an interview in 2006, prior to the reconciliation between the two actors, who last year even sat together in the podcast Inside of youThey discussed the issue and declared that what happened was, for both, “past water.” “Both he and Julia Roberts are excellent people,” he added, without a trace of spite.

Kiefer Sutherland during a 2021 performance in Nashville at the AmericanaFest.
Kiefer Sutherland during a 2021 performance in Nashville at the AmericanaFest.Mickey Bernal (Getty Images)

The actor has also joked about his problems with alcohol. The most famous episode was his 2005 beating of a Christmas tree in a hotel. “I hate that fucking Christmas tree,” he warned, according to The Mirror, to a manager, who allegedly gave him permission to tear it down after Sutherland diligently consulted him if he cared if he destroyed it and paid whatever it cost. The oldest video on YouTube about the incident, almost a piece of Dada art, is only 9 seconds long and has the title Kiefer is a pirate, by the words that his interlocutor says behind the camera: “You’re a pirate, man.” “That explains everything” is the reply from Sutherland, who immediately pounced on the tree.

In 2018, he parodied the scene on his Twitter account to congratulate his followers on the holidays, this time with a smaller Christmas tree.

Kiefer Sutherland has also publicly honored the memory and ideas of his grandfather on the part of his mother, the Social Democratic politician Tommy Douglas. Douglas was the one who pushed for universal access to healthcare in Canada, which has one of the most admired systems in the world. Sutherland has also spoken out for the introduction of a public system in the United States, in addition to free admission to universities. “I suppose by definition these are socialist policies, but to me it is common sense,” he declared in an interview for CBS television in 2007. That same year, he accepted an invitation from the United States Army to raise awareness among cadets against the use of torture in interrogations, after in the series 24 they decided that the character of Jack Bauer did not use these methods anymore.

His mother, Shirley Douglas, who passed away in April 2020, also stood out for an important political activism: the actress, who supported marches against the Vietnam War or to support migrants, lost her work visa in the United States because of her connection to the Black Panther movement.

“He was closer to his mother most of his life and learned from her, because she was a fantastic stage actress. Growing up in that environment has also transferred a certain instinct to him “, he tells Icon Christopher Heard, who does not hesitate to distinguish what have been the strengths that have made Sutherland a star: “He does not have the typical Hollywood handsome boy aspect and he has a great intensity, which he brings out when his roles are in action or they must be threatening. And he has a wonderful raspy voice! ” That it is the same to intimidate terrorists from the Balkans in a television fiction than to sing country.

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