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Dad helps out Rossif Sutherland


When Rossif Sutherland was handed the script for the movie version of High Life, he certainly didn't have a lock on the role of Billy, the young hood with a way with the ladies, despite his famous name.

"This was like any other job as an actor," Sutherland says quietly, "But I took a liking to it right away."

As he often does with scripts he likes, he showed it to his actor father, Donald Sutherland, and the two of them ended up reading it aloud. Dad, it seems, was impressed.

"He told me this was for me and I should pursue this," Sutherland says.

Actually, it wasn't the first time he got a few words of acting wisdom from his famous father. Recalling his single foray on the live stage -- a high school production of A Piece of my Heart, in which he was the only male in an otherwise female production -- Sutherland confesses that, with his father in the opening night audience, he was so nervous he simply forgot his lines and had no choice but to walk off the stage.

"I came back," he says today. "I had the courage to finish the job."

On the way home afterward, he offered a stammering apology to his dad.

"He said: 'You know, kid, that's the moment when you were closest to the truth,' and you know, he was right," Sutherland says.

Mind you, he thinks there's such a thing as getting too close to the truth. Like the other three leads in the film, Sutherland plays a morphine addict and hoped initially to have a chance to observe real addicts.

That never happened and, in retrospect, he's just as happy.

In Poor Boy's Game, an earlier movie in his career, he says: "I played a guy who came out of prison. I went to visit a prison and all I got from that is that I didn't want to go back."

As for juggling his career as a singer with his burgeoning career as an actor, it's no big problem.

"It's very simple," he admits with disarming candour. "I don't work very much as an actor. It's as simple as that.

"I can't say I prefer one to the other. They both sleep very comfortably with me in my bed."

 

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