William Baldwin Says Donald Sutherland Was a 'True Original': 'I Have Never Known Anyone Remotely Like Him' (Exclusive)

Baldwin explains to PEOPLE how the late actor’s "incredible qualities" — and even his "flaws"— made Sutherland "more lovable"

<p>Daniele Venturelli/Getty; Arnold Jerocki/Getty</p> William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland.

Daniele Venturelli/Getty; Arnold Jerocki/Getty

William Baldwin and Donald Sutherland.

When William Baldwin reflects on his time working with Donald Sutherland, it’s with awe and reverence.

Sutherland — who died on June 20 at age 88 in Miami after a long illness — appeared in almost 200 TV and film projects during his illustrious career. Baldwin worked alongside the late actor in three of those projects, including the 1991 action drama Backdraft, 1999’s sci-fi thriller Virus and Dirty Sexy Money, which ran for two seasons from 2007 to 2009.

Starring on the short-lived ABC drama with Sutherland as his onscreen son Patrick Darling IV was “by far my favorite,” Baldwin, 61, told PEOPLE in a statement.

“Donald was a complex, complicated and quirky man in the most delicious way,” he said in the statement. “He had a gentle, childlike boyish streak in him that I absolutely adored. His persona onscreen and his personality in life were as interesting and original as the features on his face."

"He was a true original. A one of a kind," Baldwin continued. "I have never known anyone remotely like him. His many incredible qualities and somehow even his flaws made him more unique, more charming... more lovable.”

Related: Remembering Donald Sutherland's Life in Photos, from Hawkeye to The Hunger Games

<p>Moviestore/Shutterstock</p> Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin in 'Backdraft.'


Donald Sutherland and William Baldwin in 'Backdraft.'

Baldwin recalled one day after a table reading for Dirty Sexy Money when Sutherland emerged with a “big smile on his face” and a “bounce in his step.”

“[He] said to me… ‘Look at this... read this.’ He proceeded to hand me his script and I read a scene that had lots of snappy, brilliant ... dialogue in it,” Baldwin explained. “He said to me… ‘Can you believe that? Can you believe I get to say that… how wonderful. It was so sweet and so exhilarating for me to see how excited he still was about the work [then] at 73 years old.”

The actor also recalled another moment during production of the show when Sutherland expressed his fondness for Baldwin.

“We had gotten so close during the two seasons we worked together that he once said to me… ‘I have affection for you as if you were one of my sons.’ That meant to the world to me and I will never forget that,” he added.

Another of Sutherland’s Dirty Sexy Money costars, Natalie Zea — who played his onscreen daughter Karen Darling — told PEOPLE in a statement that Donald was a “mentor, a father figure and a legend who, despite all that, was somehow always able to make me feel like I was his equal.”

“His wicked sense of humor and deeply generous spirit is unmatched and precious to those who loved him,” Zea added.

Related: Kiefer Sutherland Mourns His Dad Donald Sutherland: 'He Loved What He Did and Did What He Loved'

<p>Scott Garfield/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty</p> Donald Sutherland, Peter Krause, William Baldwin and Natalie Zea in 'Dirty Sexy Money.'

Scott Garfield/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Donald Sutherland, Peter Krause, William Baldwin and Natalie Zea in 'Dirty Sexy Money.'

Sutherland is survived by five children, including his 24 actor son Kiefer, whom he shared with ex-wife actress Shirley Douglas, and five grandchildren. Sutherland, who was also previously married to Lois Hardwick, wed actress Francine Racette in 1972, and shared kids Roeg, Rossif and Angus with her. He is also dad to daughter Rachel with Douglas, who died in 2020 at 86.

The actor, whose career took off after 1967's The Dirty Dozen, played Mr. Bennet in 2005's Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and Hawkeye Pierce in 1970's M*A*S*H, and he had countless notable film roles in movies like Ordinary People (1980), Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) and as the villainous President Snow in all four Hunger Games movies with Jennifer Lawrence. His more recent projects included shows like The UndoingTrust and Swimming with Sharks.

While Sutherland won an Emmy for outstanding supporting actor in a miniseries in 1995 for the TV movie Citizen X and was awarded an Honorary Academy Award in 2017 "for a lifetime of indelible characters, rendered with unwavering truthfulness," he was never nominated for a competitive Oscar during his decades-long career.

But for many of his costars, including Baldwin, that’s of little importance. Sutherland was an immensely gifted actor that will long be remembered for his singular talent.

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“There will never be another Donald Sutherland... ever,” Baldwin shared. “We have lost a true acting master and a quirky, one of a kind, never met anyone like him before original. … He will be dearly missed.”

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