Dad nudges Sutherland onto career path
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You would think that having the last name Sutherland and the bloodline that comes with it would naturally lead to an acting career, but for Rossif Sutherland it a took a bit of convincing.
Now the actor is doing what he loves.
“It’s quite a privilege to able to dream for a living,” Sutherland says. “So if I get to continue doing that I’ll be a happy man.”
His first lead acting role landed him in a film that screened at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival and saw him acting opposite screen legend Danny Glover in Clement Virgo’s boxing drama Poor Boy’s Game.
Sutherland, son of Canadian acting legend Donald Sutherland, said his father was the one who suggested he give acting a try.
“My father was actually the one who encouraged me to be an actor, it was something I resisted all my life growing up,” the soft-spoken actor says.
“I didn’t want to follow in anybody’s footsteps, you know, when you’re a kid you want to do your own little thing.”
But after a reluctant start, his love of acting was established and Sutherland played minor roles before landing the lead in Poor Boy’s Game.
Set in Halifax, Poor Boy’s Game tells the story of a young white man named Donnie Rose (played by Sutherland) who is released from prison after serving a lengthy sentence for the savage beating of a young black man, leaving him severely mentally disabled. With community tensions seething, themes of anger, redemption and forgiveness come together between the ropes of a boxing ring.
“My father actually helped me study for it,” Sutherland says of his role. “When I first heard the news that I got the part, instead of jumping up and down, all I saw was all the work I had to do. I was a chubby kid so I was very fortunate that my director saw in me his boxer because I did not look like a boxer when he cast me. So I trained and I studied and my father was there every day with me, we’d just run through things.”
Sutherland’s training included months of dieting, weight training, pilates and boxing to turn the 6-foot-5 actor into an athlete.
As for what’s next for him, Sutherland, who’s also a singer/songwriter, has been working on an album and says he hopes to continue acting. When asked who he would like to work with, he’s quick to respond.
“I would love to work with my father, I would. I would love to work with him really soon.”
Poor Boy’s Game opens tomorrow.