Perhaps the most definitive descriptor for Kiefer Sutherland's career is not any particular niche he's carved for himself, but rather his versatility. In a career that spans 20 years, Sutherland has covered abundant ground, he has established his individuality as an actor, bringing to the screen a distinctive voice and a keen edged presence. He's one of those actors we feel close to because we have watched them grow.... We've been with him through his initial success in films like The Lost Boys and Stand By Me, through the first loves, the heartbreaks, the hardships and all the rest.
On December 21, 1966, Kiefer Sutherland and his twin sister, Rachel, were born in the UK to Canadian acting parents, screen legend Donald Sutherland and the esteemed stage actress, Shirley Douglas. He is also the grandson of one of Canada's most illustrious and influential politicians, Tommy Douglas - the former Premier of Saskatchewan and the founder of the Canadian system of socialized medicine.
At age 4, his parents divorced and Sutherland moved from their home in L.A. to Toronto with his mother. Kiefer spent a lot of time in the theatre with his mother and occasionally visited the movie sets where his father was working. At age 15, he caught the acting bug and he began acting in various youth theatres in Toronto. In 1984, he landed his first starring role in the 1930s coming-of-age drama, The Bay Boy - for which he won a Genie Award in 1984 (Canada's equivalent to the Academy Award)
After moving back to LA, Kiefer appeared in a series of hits in the late ’80s. With his bad boy grin and unkempt charisma, he was a perfect fit for rough-edged roles like the gang leader in Stand By Me, the head vampire in The Lost Boys, and as "Doc" in Young Guns.
In 1988, Sutherland married actress Camelia Kath (whom he met on the set of The Killing Time) and the couple had a daughter, Sarah Jude that same year. Unfortunately, the marriage ended after two years. "I had an incredible desire at a very young age to want to be older than I was. And one of the ways you can accomplish that is to say, 'I'm married, I have kids, I've arrived' But those aren't the right reasons to do that, as we found out. Our marriage didn't last long, but we have a beautiful daughter Sarah, and I'm very fortunate that Camelia and I have ended up remaining friends."
In 1990, Sutherland starred in the hit Flatliners where he met Julia Roberts. The two were involved in a very high profile relationship and were engaged to be married in the summer of '91, but the wedding was abruptly called off three days before the wedding. He was scorched by the tabloid frenzy, and at the same time, he was thrown for a loop professionally. "I wasn't prepared when the work came to an abrupt stop. I had a chip on my shoulder, and it was getting pretty heavy."
After making A Few Good Men (1992) and The Three Musketeers (1993) Sutherland temporarily left Hollywood and spent the better part of the ’90s honing his rodeo skills on a 900-acre ranch in Montana. He also bought the horses he rode in Young Guns and Young Guns II. “My love for horses began with those movies, but during The Three Musketeers I really learned to ride. I needed to take time off, I was doing awful films and I just needed to stop. It's a terrible thing to get into: 'Well, you need the money, your kids have to go to school' - you start justifying it. I was doing really shitty work, which I only blame myself for, and I needed to stop and figure out what I was doing with my life."
In 1993, Kiefer made his directorial debut with the made-for-television drama Last Light, in which he also starred as a prison inmate on death row. The film was very well received and earned several Cable Ace nominations.
In 1996, Kiefer married fellow Torontian Kelly Winn, a former model. Unforutunately, the couple separated a few years later. The following year, Kiefer starred and directed his first major motion picture, Truth or Consequences, N.M. That same year, he starred in the critically acclaimed Sci -Fi film Dark City with Jennifer Connelly and Rufus Sewell. This was followed by his second self-directorial effort, the TV movie, Woman Wanted, in which he also starred alongside Michael Moriarty and Holly Hunter.
In 1997, Kiefer returned to his theatrical roots starring with his mother in a Canadian production of Tennesee William's play The Glass Menagerie at the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto.
He later took on supporting roles in higher profiled films as unsympathetic characters - playing a child killer/rapist in An Eye For An Eye, a Ku Klux Klan redneck in A Time To Kill, and a serial killer in Freeway also starring Reese Witherspoon.
Still unhappy with the work he was doing, Kiefer decided to return to the rodeo circuit in 1998, he wasn't sure how long this hiatus would last or if he'd go back to acting at all. He found success again on the rodeo circuit with partner John English, they won several competitions, including first place in the ’98 U.S. Team Roping Championships.
"I was as shocked as anyone when we won our first rodeo, but I'm a competitive person. I wanted that buckle. But that wasn't the driving force of why I did it. I just really enjoyed the whole process, the discipline and the whole experience." But Kiefer soon found himself starting to miss his day job. "I remembered the great times I had making films. And how lucky I was to have been in that position in the first place."
After a two year hiatus, Kiefer returned to Hollywood. His friend, British director, Stephen Hopkins was directing a pilot for an innovative new television series called "24" and encouraged him to consider the role of Jack Bauer.
Kiefer's powerful portrayal of Federal Counter terrorism Agent, Jack Bauer, has earned him recognition as the Best Actor in a TV Drama at the 2001 Golden Globe Awards and the 2004 & 2006 SAG Awards.
Despite his hectic schedule on 24, Kiefer still finds time to continue his work on the big screen. He was the voice of "The Caller" in the critically acclaimed film, "Phone Booth". In 2004, he made a memorable cameo appearance in the big screen thriller "Taking Lives" which also starred Angelina Jolie & Ethan Hawke
In 2005, he starred alongside Samantha Morton in the epic period drama, River Queen. In 2006, he starred in the political thriller, The Sentinel, opposite Michael Douglas and Eva Longoria. He was also featured in the Disney animated film, "The Wild" as the voice of Samson The Lion.
Kiefer recently signed a $40 million deal with 20th Century Fox and will appear in three additional seasons of 24, making him the highest paid actor in a TV drama. He was also promoted from Co-Executive Producer to Executive Producer of 24. He will also get a two year production development contract to develop projects for 20th Century Fox Television.
24 has just concluded it's fifth and most successul season, scoring the highest ratings in the show's history to date. Kiefer & 24 will return for a sixth season in Janary 2007. There are also plans to bring 24: The Movie to the big screen with a tentative release date set for 2008.