‘The Undoing’ Star Donald Sutherland Says the Camera Is ‘Either a Voyeur or a Lover’

Donald Sutherland currently stars in HBO’s The Undoing as Franklin Reinhart —a retired New York financier and Grace Fraser’s (Nicole Kidman) father. He plays a supporting role in the psychological whodunnit, coming to his daughter’s aid when her cheating husband is the lead suspect in a murder. 

Donald Sutherland The Undoing
Masterclass by Donald Sutherland at the Festival Lumière in Lyon, France | Nicolas Liponne/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Donald Sutherland commands attention with each scene he is in. Sutherland plays a character perfectly matched to his industry stature and skillset; Reinhart is righteous and arrogant, persuasive, and hard to intimidate. He walks with his shoulders back, slow and steady. He drifts in and out of various scenes, cementing a commanding presence despite somewhat minimal screen time. 

Sutherland and Hugh Grant sat down for Interview Magazine and they discussed The Undoing, as well as their careers leading up to the HBO original. Sutherland noted what he has learned about acting after all these years, honing on in how he views the camera. 

‘The Undoing’ star talks about the camera, noting that it can carry two disparate intentions

Sutherland explained to Grant that, while working on a production with Vanessa Redgrave (Bear Island), he told the director that his close-up needed to be shot last, for going before his co-star interfered with what he was trying to capture and convey. He went on to explain that, depending on the production, the camera can work for or against you. He said: 

No. But I did a film with Vanessa Redgrave, and finally I had to say to the director, “Listen, shoot me last,” because I would do my close-up, and then she would do hers, and her close-up had nothing to do with anything that she’d done before. It was so precise and specific. I’m nervous all the time.  For me, the camera’s either a voyeur or a lover. If it’s your lover, it shares your soul, you give it your virginity over and over again, and it’ll embrace your heart. If it’s a voyeur, it’s a f*cking paparazzi.

Sutherland | Interview Magazine

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Sutherland explains that, when all is coming to plan, the camera is a lover — spotting his every feeling and sharing in his sentiments and thoughts. Yet, when it’s a voyeur, it’s “paparazzi —” merely gaining pleasure from analyzing — every misstep, every decision, every gaze. As a lover, the camera is a compassionate sharer of worlds; as a voyeur, it’s a judgemental, solely external perspective. 

Grant goes on to note that, from what he knows, Anthony Hopkins “strokes the camera every morning,” upon which Sutherland notes that he kisses the lens. Actors have their quirks, relationships with their art, as well as the devices that bring their art to life. As for Sutherland, he likely kisses the camera in hopes that it becomes a “lover” that day.