Will Smith Honors Late Co-Star Donald Sutherland: ‘Rest in Peace, Donald’

Smith honors late co-star Donald Sutherland with heartfelt tribute after his passing

'Six Degrees of Separation' cast: Donald Sutherland, Stockard Channing and Will Smith. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, EVERETT)
‘Six Degrees of Separation’ cast: Donald Sutherland, Stockard Channing and Will Smith. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, EVERETT)

Will Smith has paid tribute to his late friend and former co-star, Donald Sutherland, following the news of the veteran actor’s passing on June 20 after a prolonged illness. Sutherland was 88 years old.

In a heartfelt post on Instagram, Smith, 55, shared a brief but poignant message alongside two photos of himself and Sutherland from the set of their 1993 film “Six Degrees of Separation.”

The caption read simply, “Rest in Peace, Donald.” The film, which marked a significant point in Smith’s early acting career, featured Sutherland and Smith working closely together, forging a bond that endured over the decades.

“Six Degrees of Separation,” adapted from a Broadway play of the same name, also starred Stockard Channing, Ian McKellen, Mary Beth Hurt, and Bruce Davidson.

In the film, Smith portrayed Paul, a cunning con artist who infiltrates the lives of a wealthy Upper East Side couple, played by Channing and Sutherland, by pretending to be a friend of their Ivy League children.

The story was inspired by the real-life escapades of David Hampton, a scammer who deceived affluent New Yorkers by claiming to be the son of famed actor Sidney Poitier.

Missy Davy of Creative Artists Agency (CAA) confirmed Sutherland’s death, stating that the actor passed away in Miami. “A private celebration of life will be held by the family,” Davy told PEOPLE.

Donald Sutherland’s filmography is extensive and varied, showcasing his remarkable range and talent over several decades.

He gained early recognition as Hawkeye Pierce in the 1970 film “M*A*S*H,” and continued to impress with roles such as Mr. Bennet in the 2005 adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice” alongside Keira Knightley.

His performances in classics like “Ordinary People” (1980) and “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” (1978) further cemented his status as a versatile and compelling actor.

Stockard Channing, Donald Sutherland and Will Smith in a 'Six Degrees of Separation' scene. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, EVERETT)
Stockard Channing, Donald Sutherland and Will Smith in a ‘Six Degrees of Separation’ scene. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, EVERETT)

More recently, Sutherland captivated a new generation of audiences as the sinister President Snow in the “Hunger Games” series, starring Jennifer Lawrence.

His portrayal of the tyrannical leader of Panem was both chilling and memorable, adding yet another iconic role to his illustrious career.

Born in Canada, Sutherland was a towering figure in Hollywood, known not just for his talent but also for his distinctive voice and presence.

His contributions to film and television spanned genres and generations, leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

Sutherland is survived by his five children, including actor Kiefer Sutherland, whom he shared with his ex-wife, actress Shirley Douglas. He also leaves behind five grandchildren.

Kiefer Sutherland took to social media to express his grief and admiration for his father.

“With a heavy heart, I tell you that my father, Donald Sutherland, has passed away,” Kiefer wrote on X (formerly Twitter), accompanied by a touching black-and-white photo of himself as a child with his father.

“I personally think one of the most important actors in the history of film. Never daunted by a role, good, bad, or ugly.”

Kiefer’s tribute highlighted not only his father’s professional achievements but also his personal passion for acting. “He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that,” Kiefer added. “A life well lived.”

In addition to Kiefer, Sutherland’s family includes his daughter Rachel, whom he shared with Douglas.

He was also married to actress Francine Racette, with whom he had three sons: Roeg, Rossif, and Angus. His first marriage was to Lois Hardwick.

As Hollywood mourns the loss of one of its greats, many of Sutherland’s colleagues and fans are reflecting on his extraordinary career and the memorable characters he brought to life.

Donald Sutherland in 2019. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, ARNOLD JEROCKI/GETTY)
Donald Sutherland in 2019. (PHOTO: VIA PEOPLE, ARNOLD JEROCKI/GETTY)

His ability to navigate diverse roles—from heroes to villains, from dramas to comedies—demonstrated his unparalleled versatility and dedication to his craft.

Donald Sutherland’s legacy will undoubtedly endure through his extensive body of work, influencing aspiring actors and delighting audiences for years to come. His passing marks the end of an era, but his contributions to cinema will continue to inspire and entertain.

Smith’s tribute, along with those from others who knew and admired Sutherland, serves as a reminder of the profound impact Sutherland had on the film industry and the lasting friendships he formed throughout his career.

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