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Kiefer Sutherland isn't a household name yet. Except in a way: He's the son of actor Donald Sutherland (Ordinary People), and anxious to be known for himself.
"It was very hard for me to make a start," the 20-year-old actor recalls. "I had to face comparisons with my father. No one took me seriously. In many cases, I wasn't given the job because I was Donald Sutherland's son."
But Stand By Me, which topped the box office for three weeks, changed all that. His character, a hood and a bully who terrorizes younger kids, "has no redeeming qualities whatsoever S a real bad guy, but he made the film a little more exciting."
In it, he sported unruly blond locks and a stubbly chin. But don't be fooled. He changes looks and roles easily. Next he'll play a vampire in The Lost Boys.
"I've never even had the same hair color from one film to the next," he chuckles. "It just happened. I've been fortunate enough to get a wide variety of roles."
He won praise for performances on The Bay Boy, as Liv Ullmann's son, and as an emotionally disturbed boy in the TV movie Trapped by Silence with Marsha Mason. He made his screen debut with Mason in a tiny role in Max Dugan Returns, co-staring his father.
That's about as close as the two Sutherlands got for many years. Kiefer's parents were divorced early in his childhood. He left the Toronto home of his mother, actress Shirley Dougals, at 15, renting a room from young friends who were artists and actors.
"I haven't really lived with my father, but seeing him on screen made me feel closer to him as a child, Yet there's never been one specific person I tried to model myself after."
Both on screen and off, he mentions Nick Nolte, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall and his father as actors he admires. "These days I don't see a whole lot of him, but when we do see each other, we have a good time together.
"I don't like it when people interfere in each other's lives, and he's stayed clear of that. He's only given me two pieces of advice: He told me to be honest and straightforward with what I do, and never call anybody pretentious because it would come back to me. That was it. With that I went on my merry way."
Now living Los Angeles, he says he'd like to return
to Toronto some day. "Canada is my home. I love it's intimacyS
I love America too, but it's awfully big."
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