Also Credited As:Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland
|Actor, Director, Producer|
|Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland on December 21, 1966 in London, England, GB|
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Born on Dec. 21, 1966 in London, England to actress and political activist Shirley Douglas and movie star Donald Sutherland, Sutherland saw his parents divorce when he was just three years old. Named after writer-director Warren Kiefer, who helped his father with his breakthrough role in "Castle of the Living Dead" (1964), Sutherland began acting at age nine, appearing in a Los Angeles production of "Throne of Straw." He later moved with his mother to Toronto, where as a child actor, he honed his craft in local stage productions. Sutherland's first big break came with the title role of a conflicted teen who witnesses a murder committed by his girlfriend's father in the Canadian-made feature "The Bay Boy" (1984). American audiences had their first glimpse of him playing a radio operator on a World War II bomber in "The Mission," an episode of Steven Spielberg's anthology series "Amazing Stories" (NBC, 1985-87). The actor also did fine work as an elective mute in the CBS movie "Trapped in Silence" (1986).
Beginning with his memorable turn as a small-town bully in "Stand By Me," Sutherland quickly established himself in Hollywood features. He more than held his own as a one of the gang led by a volatile Sean Penn in "At Close Range" (1986), then made audiences take notice with his charismatic performance as a teen vampire in "The Lost Boys." Over the next decade, Sutherland alternated between showy leads and nuanced character parts. He was perfectly cast as the seductive Tad Allagash who encourages a hedonistic lifestyle for Michael J. Fox's aspiring novelist in "Bright Lights, Big City" (1988). Sutherland was the poetic one of the photogenic cowboys of "Young Guns" and a buttoned-up FBI agent sent to escort a 1960s radical (Dennis Hopper) to prison in "Flashback" (1990). A reunion with director Joel Schumacher on the ridiculous, but entertaining "Flatliners" introduced the actor to Julia Roberts. Their subsequent relationship spilled more tabloid ink than the Battle of Gettysburg spilled blood, particularly when Sutherland was spotted with another woman on the eve of their impending marriage. Roberts' decision to cancel the wedding at the eleventh hour caused a media frenzy that embarrassed both parties, and ultimately damaged Sutherland's standing with the public.
Two years later, Sutherland was back in high-profile roles, playing a quirky FBI agent in the film prequel "Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me" and an overly religious Marine who may or may have been involved in murdering an enlisted man in "A Few Good Men." The actor went on to team with real life friend Charlie Sheen and Oliver Platt as "The Three Musketeers" (1993), then partnered with Woody Harrelson as rodeo riders who head to New York to find a missing pal in "The Cowboy Way" (1994). For some actors, playing villains was always more of a challenge, and Sutherland proved the sentiment with a chilling turn as a member of the Ku Klux Klan in his third film for Joel Schumacher, "A Time to Kill" (1996), which also featured his father as an alcoholic lawyer. He was next seen as a low-key psycho in "Freeway" (1996), a modern-day spin on the "Little Red Riding Hood" story, before the actor went on to impress as a deceptive doctor in "Dark City" (1998) and as the heroin-addicted Beat poet William S. Burroughs in the Sundance-screened "Beat" (2000).
In 1993, Sutherland began a promising secondary career as a filmmaker with the hard-hitting made-for-cable prison drama "Last Light" (Showtime) about the unlikely relationship between an inmate (Sutherland) and a guard (Forest Whitaker). He again did double duty as director and star of "Love and Blood," a 1995 entry in Showtime's film noir series "Fallen Angels," about a down-on-his-luck boxer who is framed for murder by his ex-lover. Moving to the big screen, Sutherland helmed "Truth or Consequences, N.M." (1997), an uneven but stylishly enjoyable hostage drama that was more than enlivened by Sutherland's turn as a devilish psychopath. His follow-up, the festival-bound "Woman Wanted" (1999), though intriguing, was half-baked at best. Indeed, Sutherland removed his name from the credits over an editing dispute for its theatrical release (substituting Alan Smithee), though the press kit made known his contribution.
In a surprising move, especially to himself, Sutherland sought work in series television. He stepped into Kevin Spacey's sh s as Jack Vincennes, the Southern Californian cop who served as an advisor to a TV show, in the pilot for a show based on "L.A. Confidential." But no network was willing to commit to it - in hindsight, something that worked to his advantage. Instead, he accepted the role of government agent Jack Bauer in the heart-thumping series "24," which followed the Counter Terrorism Unit agent over the course of a 24-period which lasted an entire season, or 24 episodes. In the first season, Bauer uncovers a plot to assassinate a presidential candidate and has all of one day to stop it. As if that is not enough, Bauer also discovers his teenage daughter has disappeared. The novel premise of "24" was that each of the series' episodes played out in real-time and covered one hour in Bauer's attempts to locate both the assassin and his missing child. Critics praised the series - with some including it on their top picks for the year, and its star - citing the actor's stalwart performance for anchoring the drama. Over the course of the next seven seasons, Sutherland earned four consecutive Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and a 2006 Screen Actors Guild Award as Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Drama Series for his performance.
With the momentum of his television success on his side, Sutherland signed a production deal with 20th Century Fox Television in early 2006 to develop and executive produce series programming through his newly created production banner. The deal also called for Kiefer to be named co-executive producer of "24;" not just its star. Meanwhile, Sutherland earned yet another Emmy award nomination for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 2007, despite an otherwise lackluster sixth season. In addition to "24," Sutherland's menacing voice was also prominently featured in Joel Schumacher's "Phone Booth" (2003), a thriller starring Colin Farrell set entirely around the confines of a New York City phone booth; and he had a role in the sub par erotic thriller "Taking Lives" (2004) opposite Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawke. He also had roles in "The Wild" (2006), "The Sentinel" (2006) and "I Trust You to Kill Me" (2006).
Before the premiere of the seventh season of "24," Sutherland made news of a different kind: being arrested for drunk driving over the state's legal limit of .08 after the actor failed a field sobriety test following making an illegal U-turn in West L.A. in September 2007. This came on the heels of still being on probation from a similar 2004 conviction. He was charged later that week with misdemeanor driving under the influence in a case the city attorney's office said could put him in jail for more than a year. During the first DUI arrest in 2004, he pleaded no contest to one misdemeanor count and was sentenced to five years' probation, 50 hours of community service and was ordered to attend an alcohol treatment program. City officials said he had completed the community service and treatment program but was still on probation. Thus the extreme circumstances of his 2007 arrest. After the writer's strike in early 2008 delayed the seventh season of "24," Sutherland was back on track when the two-hour prequel "24: Redemption" (Fox, 2008) aired, earning him a Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries. After "24" went out with a bang in 2010, Sutherland voiced Bosco in the live action family comedy "Marmaduke" (2011) and starred opposite Kirsten Dunst in Lars von Trier's "Melancholia" (2011). Meanwhile, he made more amusing headlines with an appearance on the "Late Show with David Letterman" (CBS, 1993- ), where he showed up wearing a homely dress after losing a bet with a friend over a professional football game. Back on the small screen, Sutherland starred on the supernatural drama series "Touch" (Fox, 2012- ), where he played a former reporter who discovers that his mute, emotionally disturbed son (David Mazouz) has a gift for predicting future events through a fascination with numbers.