Donald Sutherland Says This Character Is Closer To Him Than Any Other [Exclusive]

Donald Sutherland has played a multitude of characters over the years, from the foolish felon Vernon L. Pinkley in "The Dirty Dozen," to the fascist ruler President Coriolanus Snow in "The Hunger Games" franchise. Sutherland is largely considered to be one of the greatest living actors still working today, and with over six decades of experience, Sutherland has played every type of character imaginable across every possible genre.

In his latest venture, Sutherland plays the titular role in "Mr. Harrigan's Phone," a feature horror adaptation of the Stephen King novella of the same name, now available to stream on Netflix. As was noted in our review of the film, "Mr. Harrigan's Phone" is an old-school ghost story, but with a modern twist as the story centers on a seemingly haunted iPhone. We promise the story is far more interesting than what that absurd logline would make it seem.

The film is written and directed by John Lee Hancock, who previously helmed films like "The Blind Side," "Saving Mr. Banks," and "The Founder." Sutherland's Mr. Harrigan is a reclusive billionaire with failing eyesight, who hires a young kid named Craig (Jaeden Martell) to read to him. The two develop an unexpected friendship, but unfortunately, the old man dies. Knowing his iPhone was buried with him, Craig one day sends a text to his late friend, only for Mr. Harrigan to respond. While Sutherland is not in the film for a great deal of time, he makes the performance count. It's also, according to him, the closest he's ever felt to a character.

The only man for the job

In our recent exclusive interview with John Lee Hancock, /Film's own Jeff Ewing asked about the decision to cast Donald Sutherland, "He was my first and only choice, and thankfully he said yes," said Hancock.

To make things even more affirming, Sutherland told Hancock that the role felt like it was meant for him to play. "He told me, 'I believe this character is closer to me than any character I've ever played,' and I said, 'Wow. Okay. That's interesting.'" Sutherland has always been a captivating performance, but Mr. Harrigan allows him the opportunity to make the best of a relatively smaller role than he's accustomed to.

Mr. Harrigan is a mysterious old man, but the kindness of his eyes and the genuine warmth in his smile becomes instantly disarming. Is Mr. Harrigan someone beyond this mortal coil, or is he just an authentically kind old billionaire? As if he couldn't get better, Sutherland also provided plenty of on-set advice to his co-star, Jaeden Martell, who has proven himself to be one of the strongest young talents in the industry. Sutherland has always been able to capture an audience and speak volumes without uttering so much as a word, and this skill is well on display here.