Kiefer Sutherland has had quite the acting career in an industry he’s been a part of for decades. A couple of cult-classics that may come to mind include Stand by Me and The Lost Boys. Pretty good movies for someone who was still relatively new in the business, right? He’s had his share of ups and downs, all of which got to play out in the media—especially the downs. He comes from an interesting family, one that includes actors and politicians alike, but he’s gone on to make a name for himself, setting himself apart from his family but also recognizing and never forgetting where he’s come from. Here, we take a look at the life Kiefer Sutherland has lived and share some of the more fascinating aspects of it.
Kiefer Sutherland Facts
1. Wait, How Many?
How many names do you have? Personally, I have three. Normal, right? Well, Sutherland has seven. Seven! His full name is Kiefer William Frederick Dempsey George Rufus Sutherland. Phew! Try saying that five times fast. But where did the name Kiefer come from? Well, Warren Kiefer was the director of Sutherland’s father’s first movie.
2. On the Road Again
Kiefer Sutherland didn’t stay in one place for very long when he was very young—not entirely something he could control, either. Born in London, he moved to California when he was only two years old, with his parents divorcing just two years after that. Within five years, his mother moved them to Toronto where he actually spent a good amount of time for once.
The only problem with that? He bounced around from high school to high school, attending quite a handful.
3. Acting or Politics: What Will it Be?
Kiefer Sutherland has some pretty cool family genes. With a last name like Sutherland, it’s pretty obvious who his father is: Fellow actor Donald Sutherland. His mother, Shirley Douglas, is also an actor. Here’s where the acting bug diverges: Douglas’s father is Tommy Douglas, a long-time Canadian politician. He led the province of Saskatchewan for 17 years as premier and led the National Democratic Party.
Tommy Douglas’s most famous accomplishment was enacting the universal healthcare that Canada enjoys to this day. Not too bad!
4. Just Another Grandpa
Tommy Douglas may have been a really important figure in Canadian politics, but that didn’t stop him from spending time with his family. “He taught me how to drive a car in a dirt parking lot in Ontario when I was 13 years old,” the actor said. Sutherland also got to spend a few days with his grandparents in the summer growing up, saying that he and his twin sister (yes, twin!) would have hot dogs while sitting in the House of Commons. “I can’t tell you how proud I am of my grandfather and all he accomplished.”
5. Go Your Own Way
Sutherland holds his father in high regard, but admits that it was tough not always having him around when he was young. “As much as I missed him being around when I was growing up, I think he missed us too.” In fact, it was just about when the younger Sutherland got into acting that the elder took a bit of a break from the business to spend time with his wife and kids.
For Kiefer, this was perfect: Not only did he get to see his dad more, but he didn’t have to try to make a name for himself under Donald’s shadow.
6. There’s a First for Everything
In 2005, Kiefer Sutherland appeared on Inside the Actors Studio. Not something that’s out of the ordinary, considering he’s, well, an actor. Notably, his appearance marked the first time a former guest’s child has appeared on the show. His dad appeared on it in 1998, which really wasn’t that long before the younger Sutherland appeared himself.
7. Father and Son: Unite!
I’m sure you’re wondering if the two Sutherlands have ever starred together in the same film? Well, they have. Three times in fact! Although they didn’t actually have a scene together in the first two films, they actually got to act face-to-face in the third. They were in 1983’s Max Dugan Returns and 1996’s A Time to Kill together but you’d almost never know it since you don’t see them on screen at the same time.
The father-son duo actually portrayed father and son in the 2015 Western Forsaken.
8. Just Making Music
Sutherland co-owns a record label and studio called Ironworks, along with his friend Jude Cole. Based in Los Angeles, Ironworks has worked with acts like Lifehouse, Ron Sexsmith, and Rocco DeLuca and the Burden—which just happens to be the first band they signed. “We don’t rent the studio out, it’s literally for bands that we have developed and that we’re finding,” Sutherland has said about it. “It’s unbelievable how many fantastic bands there are out there that are just not being heard.”
9. From Actor to Musician
Not just a music producer, Sutherland has actually recorded his own album! He released his debut effort Down in a Hole, in 2016. “There’s a real stigma attached to an actor doing music,” he said. “I wouldn’t have considered making an album when I was 25. I was way too insecure.” He worked on the album with his friend Jude Cole, for whom Sutherland partially named his daughter (Sarah Jude Sutherland).
10. Kiefer, is That Your Voice?
Kiefer Sutherland has a pretty distinct voice, and you’ve likely watched a few commercials where you think he’s doing the voiceover. Well, you’re right. His voice has appeared in commercials for Verizon and the car company Ford. Additionally, Ford sponsored some episodes of 24 that went commercial-free.
11. I Before E, Except After C
There’s a book out there that bears a photo of Sutherland’s Lost Boys character, and it even has a photo of him inside with his name along with it. But, there’s a slight typo. No one seemed to catch that his first name was spelled “Keifer” instead of the proper “Kiefer.” If you want to check it out, it’s called “The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead” by J. Gordon Melton.
12. A Star and His Guitars
When I was young, I had a box collection. Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking but we all collect something, right? Take Sutherland, for example. He collects something way cooler: Guitars. He owns about 50 vintage guitars, but these aren’t just collector’s items: He uses them when he’s in studio or during live shows.
13. Make it Count
Quick: if you were to get a tattoo for the first time, what would it be? Or, if you had to go back and think about getting your first again, would you do the same one? For Sutherland, he couldn’t decide between two different options for his first inking: A space helmet-wearing Mickey Mouse or the Chinese symbol for strength. He went with the second option, but the Mickey Mouse one would have been kind of neat.
14. Twice the Fun or Double the Trouble?
Kiefer Sutherland has a twin. But not a brother, so there’s no chance the two swapped lives or anything. Nope, he has a twin sister, Rachel, who was born seven minutes after her brother. “Being a twin taught me the value of having a companion,” he’s said. “Every time I experienced something I could turn to my left and share it.” He even added that the two are still really close!
15. Mr. Tough Guy
In the 1986 film Stand by Me, Sutherland’s character was the mean older kid who tormented the heroes. When cameras stopped rolling, he still maintained that attitude with his fellow co-stars Corey Feldman, Jerry O’Connell, River Phoenix, and Wil Wheaton. Do you think they took him seriously though? I’m willing to bet they found it funnier than anything!
16. Three Minutes is all It Takes
There are two movies that Sutherland has been a part of where he gets more credit than time on screen! In the 2004 film Taking Lives, his role only has him on screen for under three minutes, and yet his name is right up there with Angelina Jolie and Ethan Hawk. The same goes for Phone Booth—he’s also on screen for fewer than three minutes in the 2002 film, but he’s right behind Colin Farrell and Forest Whitaker for billing.
17. You’re Going to Hear Him Roar!
We all know actors get into their characters by practicing a lot—sometimes even in public. For instance, there was a time when Kiefer Sutherland was prepping for his role in the 2006 film The Wild by roaring like a lion. He chose to do it while driving in his car because he didn’t want to bug his daughter and step-daughter at home.
The problem? Well, the lady in the car next to him got the full brunt of his roaring attempts instead, and he didn’t even notice!
18. Marked for Life
Having a stranger see and hear you roaring seems like nothing when you consider the lengths Sutherland went to one season for the TV show 24. His character was supposed to get a tattoo during the third season, and it seems Sutherland didn’t feel like going through the long process every day of filming of applying a fake one. So, he decided to get a real one instead. Talk about going above and beyond for a role.
19. Just Picture Everyone Naked
Embarrassment is a very real thing for anyone. Even Kiefer Sutherland has a fear of being embarrassed, even going so far as to say it’s his biggest fear. “The very first time I ever played a gig, I was scared so bad that my right hand started to shake. As a guitar player that’s really bad, and I remember a guy laughing in the audience.”
He didn’t let that experience stop him from performing again, though. He said he booked another show for the next night!
20. The Role That Got Away
There is one role that Kiefer Sutherland regrets turning down, and it was in 1991’s My Own Private Idaho. “I passed on My Private Idaho because I wanted to go skiing and didn’t even look at it,” he said. “I told myself that I needed to stick to my plan…and it was a really dumb plan.” Well, at least he admits it.
21. In Good Company
Sutherland had some pretty well-known names as roommates back when he first left for Los Angeles. In that first year, he lived with Sarah Jessica Parker, Robert Downey Jr., and Billy Zane.
22. Run Away And Join The Circus!
Well, okay. Maybe not quite the circus. But in the late 1990s, he did actually join a rodeo circuit and traveled to places like Phoenix and Albuquerque. He even won some! After he got the rodeo out of his system, he sold everything he bought for it. Things like horses, bulls, cows, tractors. Even the 900-acre ranch in Montana. He went all out!
The rodeo wasn’t all fun and games, though. During his first rodeo, he managed to break three of his fingers. Ouch!
23. Riding in Cars with Actors
Way back in 1991, Sutherland was driving with fellow actor Gary Oldman. Sounds innocent enough, right? Well, unfortunately, officers pulled Oldman over and ultimately busted him for driving while intoxicated. “They were handcuffing him and he was on his knees, right level with the window of the car where I was,” Sutherland recalled. “He had his head down and he looked up and he said, ‘Right. Maybe next time we just have lunch.’”
24. You Booze, You Lose
He isn’t without his own controversy. He was busted for intoxicated driving, for which he plead no contest. However, the judicial system didn’t quite see things the same way and sentenced him to 50 hours of community service in 2004. Just three years later, authorities busted Sutherland yet again when he made a U-turn in Los Angeles—then failed to pass a sobriety test.
He also plead no contest to this incident but wound up spending 48 days behind bars since he was still on probation for the earlier occurrence.
25. Let’s Just Be Friends!
That’s not the only thing that Sutherland has got himself in trouble with. In 2009, he head-butted the fashion designer Jack McCollough after a fundraiser in New York. The actor turned himself in to the authorities, but McCollough eventually dropped the charages and the pair filed a joint statement regarding the incident—that also included Sutherland’s apology.
26. Deck the Halls Indeed!
Alcohol seems to be a big part of Sutherland’s bad decisions. Around Christmastime in 2005, the actor was in London and had a bit of a go at a Christmas tree at the Strand Palace Hotel. He wasn’t a fan of the tree and asked a hotel employee if he could, well, knock it down—and even offered to pay for it. So he did. “It was a joke, done to make someone laugh,” he said of the incident. “And the tree was fine. It was fine.”
27. More Money, More Problems
Unfortunately, even celebrities fall victim to cons. In this case, Sutherland was bilked out of $869,000 in 2010 for a scam that involved, of all thing, cows. After the dust settled, and prosecution said that the accused, Michael Wayne Carr, never actually bought the cattle, he plead guilty. The courts eventualyl made Carr pay Sutherland back, with almost $100,000 on top of it.
28. Too Close to Home
A little over a decade ago, Sutherland was walking his dog when two men stopped him and held them at gunpoint. He says he told them, “Please don’t shoot my dog,” but also thought to himself, “If I die here, I’m going to be really pissed.” We’re glad that nothing more serious happened that day!
29. The Case of the Broken Baby Toe
With a role like Jack Bauer on 24, Sutherland was bound to get a few injuries. He has actually broken quite a number of things, like his ankle, kneecaps, ribs, elbow, wrist and collarbone. Basically, you name it and he has broken it. But the one place he said was the worst? His baby toe. “There was a…sequence where things were exploding all around me and I was a bit slow getting to my mark and I got hit,” he said. “It doesn’t sound very butch but it made my eyes water.”
30. Everyone Take a Shot!
While filming 24, Sutherland heard about how there was a drinking name making the rounds, especially with college students. Basically, you had to take a shot every time his character said, “Damn it,” which the show used instead of other choice four -etter words. During filming of one episode, he decided to say his “catchphrase” three times in a row, just to mess with those playing the drinking game.
“Boom, boom, boom. And that was just one scene. By the end, there had to be fourteen…’” Well played, Kiefer.
31. Runaway Bride
Sutherland very nearly married actress Julia Roberts. Unfortunately, the pair never made it to the altar, and it’s a bit of an interesting coincidence who got in the middle of things. You see, one of Sutherland’s co-stars in the 1987 film The Lost Boys was Jason Patric. The two had a great friendship until Patric kind of, sort of, ran away with Roberts to Europe three days before her wedding to Sutherland in 1991.
Fast-forward 20 years to when Sutherland and Patric co-starred together yet again—but this time on Broadway in the play That Championship Season. Sutherland has said he’s forgiven Roberts over what happened, saying that they were “young and silly.”