The freshest, most irreverent version of the family, Kiefer Sutherland was the actor with the weight of tradition in his nickname and one of Hollywood’s stars. In 1990 he met Julia Roberts on the set of Flatliners and began one of the most talked about film novels of the ’90s.
Roberts, who was engaged to Dylan McDermott, canceled plans and joined Sutherland, who rushed to end his marriage to Camelia Kath. He was 24, he was 23.
The engagement was announced in the summer of 1990 and the wedding was to take place the following year. But three days before the date, Roberts decided to call it all off when he found out Sutherland was seeing a dancer. The actor denied everything, stating that it was not an extramarital affair, but it was useless.
The worst came later. On the wedding day, the press caught Roberts traveling to Ireland with Jason Patric, Sutherland’s good friend who starred alongside the actor in ‘The Lost Boys’. The rivalry would be resolved a few years later, but it left its mark, particularly on the musical career. Eventually, Sutherland chose to become a country star, a genre almost always centered around themes of betrayal and broken love.
At 55, the actor, immortalized by the role of Jack Bauer in the action series 24, is set to release a new album, the third, following 2016’s ‘Down in a Hole’ and ‘Reckless & Me (2019). Bloor Street will officially release this Friday, January 21st.
Sutherland even recalls the moment he reunited and forgave Patric in the middle of a joke about country music truisms. “I made a joke about a song and someone asked me about Jason. And I was like, ‘Well, I’ve lost my pickup truck, my dog, my best friend, and I really miss my best friend,'” he says on a podcast he participated in alongside the actor.
“When I saw him again we exchanged a few words other than a few laughs and a toast,” said Patric. “Well, well, we’ve been friends for 35 years.” “But I never managed to get the van back,” Sutherland joked.
Sutherland suffered from the ailments that usually afflict young celebrities who carry the weight of fame. “I’ve done eleven films in a row that got number one,” he recalls. “I was young and thought it would always be like this. All of a sudden I was in my 30s and things went away for a minute.”
Her marriage to Roberts imploded, her career entered a more turbulent phase, and Sutherland took refuge in alcohol. Even when he reappeared in 2001 in the role of Jack Bauer, problems remained at hand.
The years that followed were marked by controversy, almost always related to excessive drinking. For Rolling Stone in 2006, he reminisced on one of the episodes that ended well, after a well-watered dinner with Gary Oldman. “[A polícia] I handcuffed him and he knelt by the window of the car I was in. He had his head down, looked up and said, ‘Well, maybe next time we’ll just have lunch.'”
Other scenarios had less than commendable endings, like a night at a bar that ended in a caning for a stranger who dared “lick the foot” of Sutherland’s girlfriend. “I kept hitting, hitting, hitting, hitting. I didn’t stop because I didn’t want the guy to get up,” he recalls. “After that I felt really bad. I remember thinking life was too short for that kind of behavior.”
Stories abound. From the time he plunged into the pool at the Beverly Hills Hotel to the striptease he did naked in a bar before offering a stranger a lap dance. Or the occasion when he threw himself into a Christmas tree in a luxury hotel in London. “I did not say anything [aos funcionários do hotel] and that’s why it was so funny. It was a joke to make someone laugh. The tree was fine. It was all right.”
Looking back, the actor admits that alcohol hurts him the most, either because of his behavior when he’s drinking or simply because it’s an addiction. “And also because I’m a public figure. I embarrassed my mother and my family, but most of all my daughter. And that’s the biggest problem.”
“After a few drinks I don’t worry about tomorrow, but I also don’t think about what happened the day before. I’m in the moment and I don’t give a shit about anything else. It’s in the handbooks of problem alcoholics,” he says. “I’m not stupid, I know it’s my fault. Normally you try to make someone laugh. And the next day I’m just like, ‘Oh my god, don’t make me do that again.’ But why am I doing it again? And again? And again?”
And he did it again, this time with more serious consequences. In 2007, he was caught driving under the influence and was sentenced to 48 days in prison, the fourth such offense since 1989.
“I’m extremely disappointed in myself,” he said at the time. “I am sorry for the disappointment and suffering I have caused my family, friends and colleagues.” He later confessed to the experience of spending several weeks in prison. “I’ve never been to prison. I’ve walked through cells briefly because of incredibly stupid things I’ve done my entire life, and I can say that the first thing you lose when you walk through those doors is dignity.”
Two years later, he was arrested again after headbutting fashion designer Jack McCollough during a fundraiser party. It was these experiences that he says helped him develop his personal musical style, heavily inspired by country legends with similar histories. At the top: Johnny Cash.
“That’s why I always liked Cash. I’ve always wanted to write a song that pays homage to his writing,” he said in 2016 at the time of the release of his first album. As a self-confessed music lover, he owns a collection of over 100 guitars and has even founded a publishing company, Ironworks.
While acknowledging the problems alcohol has brought into his life, Sutherland remains steadfast and refuses to give up drinking forever. “I like these moments. [de bebida com os amigos]despite the possible consequences,” he explained recently. “I would be lying if I said there weren’t moments when everything just got out of hand. It’s been like this my whole life. I’ve never been the type to drown in grief when something went wrong.”
About sobriety, he admits he’s had some dry spells. “But at a certain point I made the decision, right or wrong, that I’d rather work on still being able to live those moments than quit altogether. It’s a decision I made and I have to live with it.”
Now, at 55, he continues to do what he loves, primarily on television where he has been part of the cast of shows such as The First Lady, The Fugitive and Designated Survivor, but mostly on stage, where he prepares to present “Bloor Street”.