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Trudeau, Mirren, Atwood and more pay tribute to Donald Sutherland: 'Truly a great Canadian artist'

Actor Donald Sutherland appears at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Oct. 13, 2017. Sutherland, the towering Canadian actor whose career spanned "M.A.S.H." to "The Hunger Games," has died at 88. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Helen Mirren and Margaret Atwood were among the notable names across various spheres to celebrate late Canadian film star Donald Sutherland on Thursday.

Tributes exploded on social media after his son Kiefer announced "with a heavy heart" that the New Brunswick-born acting legend died at 88 and would be remembered as "one of the most important actors in the history of film."

"Never daunted by a role, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did and did what he loved, and one can never ask for more than that. A life well lived,” Kiefer said in his post on X.

Trudeau was asked about Sutherland's passing at a press conference in Westville, N.S., shortly after the news broke. He recalled meeting the "MASH" actor when he was much younger and feeling "deeply, deeply starstruck."

He said his thoughts were with the Sutherland family.

"He was a man with a strong presence, a brilliance in his craft and truly a great Canadian artist. He will be deeply missed," Trudeau said.

The head of communications at the Toronto International Film Festival remembered Sutherland as "an iconic figure in the world of cinema" whose work leaves "an indelible mark on TIFF" after numerous appearances.

"He was a master of his craft whose talent spanned decades and whose impact on the film industry is immeasurable," Judy Lung, vice president of strategy, communications and stakeholder relations, said in a statement.

Memories also came in from Heritage Minister Pascale St-Onge and Saint John mayor Donna Noada Reardon, who said Sutherland's passing "weighs heavily" on the city "where he was born and where his legacy began."

Mirren, who co-starred with Sutherland in 2017's “The Leisure Seekers," was among several celebrities to note Sutherland's passing, calling him "one of the smartest actors" she'd ever worked with.

"He had a wonderful enquiring brain, and a great knowledge on a wide variety of subjects," she said in a statement.

"He combined this great intelligence with a deep sensitivity, and with a seriousness about his profession as an actor. This all made him into the legend of film that he became.”

Atwood shared on social media that she remembered Sutherland from their days at Victoria College at the University of Toronto.

“He was a great actor even then,” she wrote on X.

Director Ron Howard reflected on working with Sutherland decades ago.

“One of the most intelligent, interesting & engrossing film actors of all time,” he wrote on X.

Rob Lowe, who starred with Sutherland in TNT's 2004 miniseries "Salem's Lot," said we've lost "one of our greatest actors."

"It was my honor to work with him many years ago, and I will never forget his charisma and ability," he wrote on X.

Filmmaker Edgar Wright said Sutherland was an “always fascinating screen presence.”

“So sorry to see you go Donald, but what a legacy you leave behind,” he wrote on X.

— With files from The Associated Press

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 20, 2024.

Alex Nino Gheciu, The Canadian Press

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