Observer, Mar 2005
This Much I Know: Kiefer Sutherland, 38, Actor
Also at The Observer
I don’t have a computer. It started off as a gentle resistance to technology, but now it has just passed me by completely. I still write letters with a pen and paper. My daughter calls me a freak.
They can’t finish their words in Australia. A mosquito is a mozzie. Everything’s in code. That’s where their dialect comes from. Because when they were building the roads they weren’t allowed to talk to each other, so they spoke with their mouths closed. Do a Cockney accent through clenched teeth and you’ll have an Australian accent.
My grandfather Tommy Douglas was the first socialist to come to power in North America. He introduced a provincial healthcare system in Saskatchewan, which was ultimately adopted as the federal healthcare system. Having grown up as part of that legacy, my choice to become an actor is quite selfish, really.
Actors definitely get paid far, far too much for what we do, but at the same time, I don’t get paid as much as people think.
So many things have to come together for a film to be successful and so much of it is out of the actor’s control. The fact that any of the 40-plus films I’ve made have done well is a shock. When they first released Lawrence of Arabia it tanked. So they pulled it – didn’t do anything to it, just sat on it for six months – and then they re-released it and it was a huge hit.
I don’t like mirrors. Hate them. I’ve got one mirror in the bathroom, and that’s it in my house. I always thought I was much better looking inside my head, and the mirror just ruins it.
The United States has never really got over being a colony. That’s why Hollywood villains tend to have English accents.
Love is a self-manifested notion depending on how lonely you are – so if you’re really attracted to someone, and you’re really lonely, I think you can fall in love in an instant. It’s all about where you’re at.
I’m not a huge fan of therapy. That’s probably why my life is so screwed up. Therapists never have a very direct answer, in my experience. They don’t give you a five-point plan. If you say, ‘I’m having commitment issues’, you just talk for an hour, you both agree that you have commitment issues and then you walk out the door with no idea how to fix them. And besides, I find it very odd to have to pay someone to talk to.
God kind of chats back like Jiminy Cricket. I don’t believe in God in a traditional sense, in that I’m not Jewish or Catholic or anything. But I want to share the responsibility of life with something, so that at night I can say thank you to somebody. I find myself chatting to God when I’ve known something is wrong and yet I’ve still done it. God is my conscience.
Breaking up has never been a strong suit of mine. I kind of start behaving as badly as possible until someone else will do it for me. And I regret that. The best you can do is find those people and say, ‘Look, I haven’t talked to you in a while, but I just want to say that I didn’t like the way I treated you at that point. You didn’t deserve that.’ Yes, there are a few people in my life I’d like to do that with.
I haven’t had good advice and I don’t give good advice, either. I used to wake up my daughters in the middle of the night, when I’d had a couple of drinks, and drag them downstairs and go, ‘Let me tell you how tough life is out there.’ My oldest daughter is eating a bowl of cereal saying, ‘Can I go back to bed?’ and I’m like, ‘No, you gotta understand, you gotta start learning how to fight now.’ I stopped with the advice at that point.
Our communication skills are diminishing as a society. Like text messaging – it’s got to be easier to dial the seven digits and talk to someone. People text message because they don’t want to deal with a response. The whole point of communication is that there are consequences for what you say. Technology can help us sidestep those consequences for a while, but ultimately the consequences will get heavy and smack you.