Donald Sutherland, celebrated star of stage and screen, is not short on accolades.
But on a list that includes an honorary Oscar, a companionship of the Order of Canada and a couple of Golden Globes, the latest addition — a stamp bearing his profile, unveiled Thursday — feels different, he said by phone.
“It’s the biggest thing to me,” he said from his home in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. “I kept saying: ‘I’m a Canadian and now I’m a Canadian stamp. God damn. This is really something.’ I think just now when I said it, all the hair stood up on my arms. But it is cold in here.”
It is so poignant, the 88-year-old said, because stamps were vital to his early life.
He was born in New Brunswick before moving to Nova Scotia in his teenage years, but left the Maritimes for higher education — first at the University of Toronto and later in England — where he pursued his passion for acting.
“The only thing that connects you, at that time in the late ’40s, early ’50s, was a letter in the post,” he said. “They became … the thread in the fabric that bound my family together. It was incredibly important to us. A long-distance telephone call cost money.”
He just wishes his mother was here to see the stamp, he said. It features an austere photo of Sutherland in profile, overlaid with the titles of some of his most iconic projects, including Ordinary People, The Italian Job, and MASH. Sutherland originated the role of Hawkeye Pierce in the 1970 film MASH, before Alan Alda picked up the torch for the TV show that premiered two years later.
Sutherland more of an email guy these days
Sutherland went on to star in the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers and the 2005 version of Pride & Prejudice.
Canada Post said the stamp is meant to commemorate Sutherland’s storied career, which has seen him appear in more than 200 films and TV programs.
More recently, he played the main antagonist in The Hunger Games movie franchise.
As his career has progressed, so too has technology. His love for the letter hasn’t waned, but he’s more of an email guy these days. It’s hard to beat the convenience, particularly when it comes to sending long missives.
“They’re so long, I don’t think anybody reads them,” he joked. “But I love writing.”
Now, he hopes people make use of the stamp.
“Buy my stamp. Buy a lot of my stamps and send letters. Send them to people. Just little postcards: ‘Hi, how are you? Donald asked me to send a stamp.”‘