September 11, 2015 5:25 am
Updated: September 11, 2015 8:01 am

Rossif Sutherland to host dad Donald and half-brother Kiefer for TIFF

Actors Donald Sutherland, Rossif Sutherland and Kiefer Sutherland attend the premiere of "I'm Yours" at the Isabel Bader Theatre during the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2011 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Aaron Harris/Getty Images)

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TORONTO – Canadian actor Rossif Sutherland is pulling out the linens and preparing for a family reunion during the Toronto International Film Festival.

Not only does he have three films at the fest this year – Hyena Road, Hellions and River – but both his dad, Donald Sutherland, and half-brother Kiefer star in the western Forsaken, which is also screening.

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Rossif Sutherland says the clan will stay at his downtown Toronto house on the first night of the fest (he’s even giving up his master bedroom).

“I’ll go see their film and hopefully they have time to go see mine,” he says in a recent phone interview.

“I’m asking for more than they’re asking me, because I’ve got three. I don’t know if they’ll come see all three but we’re very supportive of one another. I need more support than they do. They don’t need anything from me.”

Sutherland adds that his dad is “very excited” to see what he’s been up to and is “very much involved” in any project he takes on.

“He was quite worried with me going out to Jordan (for Hyena Road) and then me going to Lao (for River),” he says.

“The fact that I survived both experiences, he’ll want to see the end result.”

The Sutherlands have a long history at TIFF, which is into its 40th year.

Donald Sutherland has been attending since its early years and “is Mr. Party” on the festival circuit, says TIFF co-founder Bill Marshall.

“I think if they had Olympics for party-going, Donald Sutherland would be a star for Canada.”

Rossif Sutherland’s festival debut was 2007’s Poor Boy’s Game. It was the first time he had to do press and walk a red carpet. The thought of doing it again is making him nervous, he says with a laugh.

“For some strange reason I always live with the illusion that we’re just doing this for fun and for ourselves and it’s never going to be seen,” he says.

That outlook stems, in part, from the fact that the Vancouver-born Sutherland grew up in Paris, far from the glare of the spotlight of his New Brunswick-born dad.

When he watched his dad onscreen, he never felt like it was him.

“That speaks to his talent,” says Sutherland, “that I lived with the man and I could still be transported into whatever life character he was creating.”

When Sutherland first visited the U.S. with his dad, a two-time Golden Globe nominee, he was shocked by his star status.

“I remember walking down the street with my dad when I was a kid and I was always taken aback by how imposing and how sometimes very rude people could be by just pointing a camera in my dad’s face without asking for permission,” he says.

“I never had any of that in France.”

Sutherland has been based in Toronto for five years now after moving from Los Angeles, where he struggled to find work for seven years.

“It was long years of just waiting by the phone and just auditions here and there,” he says.

“I’d always come back to Canada to work and so after a while, I abandoned Los Angeles and came here.”

So far the city has been good to him, adds the 36-year-old, whose other recent credits include the TV series Reign and the upcoming film Backcountry.

“If I had to give advice to somebody starting out … I would definitely tell him or her to stick around here and be part of the community,” says Sutherland.

“I know there’s a community in California, it’s just the doors are not easily opened.”

– With files from Canadian Press reporter Cassandra Szklarski

© 2015 The Canadian Press

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