Anyone worth their salt in Hollywood has a laundry list of could’ve beens and near misses. At this point, Donald Sutherland probably has more than most, given his incredibly prolific career, but he’s admitted to one that really haunts him.
Donald Sutherland made one of the best horror movies ever in 1973’s Don’t Look Now, but he could have starred in another if he wanted. “John Boorman implored me to do Deliverance, and I kept saying no,” he told AAPR. “I thought I shouldn’t make a violent film. It was stupid to turn down John – he is brilliant, and I love him. I just should’ve done it.”
Deliverance wound up being a true classic. Starring Burt Reynolds and Jon Voight, it follows several businessmen on a canoe trip through a remote part of Georgia that turns sideways when they encounter cannibals. One of the best thriller movies of all time, it would be another feather in Sutherland’s cap – not that he needs many more, since he has a bunch of the best movies ever to his name.
Still, his regret isn’t too strong, since the production he joined instead worked out very well for him. “If I had done it, I would not have done Alien Thunder, where I met my wife [Francine Racette]. And I’ve been with her for 46 years,” Sutherland added.
We’d say meeting your longtime partner trumps any kind of career accomplishment. Alien Thunder won’t top any best Westerns list (and despite its title, isn’t a science fiction movie), but clearly Sutherland did well taking that project over Boorman’s bit of cinematic exploitation.
But now we’re wondering who Sutherland could’ve replace. Reynolds or Voight seems likely, and that would’ve made for a different film. Especially now, since when you watch Deliverance now, part your mind goes to Reynolds in Smoky and the Bandit and you’re just think, “Gosh, Bandit, you’re really in for it now!”
Or maybe that’s just me. Have a look at our new movies list to see where Sutherland might pop up next. We have lists of the best drama movies if you want more of Hollywood’s greatest, and a best zombie movies list if this chatter has you in the mood for more gore. Have a look at our guide to Reacher season 2 for less gruesome thrills.