Donald Sutherland has played a wide range of roles over the years, including leading men and all manner of misfits and villains. But the veteran actor says he has always struggled with self-consciousness about his looks, especially after a conversation he had with his mother when he was sixteen. The film star speaks to Anderson Cooper for a profile to be broadcast on 60 Minutes Sunday, Dec. 10 at 7:00 p.m., ET/PT.
The Canadian actor was an awkward kid growing up -- tall with big ears. His classmates called him Dumbo. One day, Sutherland asked his mother if he was good looking. "My mother looked at me," he tells Cooper, pausing to convey his mother's hesitation. "'Your face has character, Donald.' And I went in my room and hid for at least a day," he recalls. Asked whether the remark has stayed with him, Sutherland responds, "Not really, just for 65, 66 years," he responds with a chuckle. "It's not easy to know that you're an ugly man in the business like I'm in."
When Cooper asks him if he thinks he is ugly, Sutherland says, "Unattractive is a gentler way of putting it."
Sutherland has appeared in over 150 films and television shows over a span of more than 50 years. He got his big break with the 1967 hit "The Dirty Dozen," but first made a name for himself with leading roles in early 1970s classics like "M.A.S.H." and "Klute." In 1980, he starred in "Ordinary People," a drama that won a slew of awards, including the Oscar for Best Picture. More recently, he's played President Snow in "The Hunger Games" franchise. Yet for all his iconic roles, the Oscar has eluded Sutherland. He's been called one of the greatest actors never to be nominated for an Academy Award.
He'll have another shot at a nomination with his latest film, due out next month. In "The Leisure Seeker," Sutherland co-stars with Helen Mirren as a retired professor who is coping with old age. Says Sutherland, "He was maybe the nicest man I've ever played, who was losing his mind… and totally and utterly in love with his wife." Did the role resonate? "Sure. All of it. Every bit of it."