While you are probably familiar with his family, you may not know the name Rossif Sutherland yet. The budding actor, and son of Donald Sutherland and brother to Keifer, has stepped away from his usual indie flick to join the cast of the Canadian cop drama King. As new comer Pen Martin, Rossif is making his mark on Canadian television. We spoke to Rossif about making the move to television and his famous heritage.
Real Style Network: What was it like joining the show for the second season?
Rossif Sutherland: It was wonderful. It’s the second season so I am joining a family that has already been established. I lucked out in that I get to work with people who I really enjoy working with and enjoy as people. It’s been a fun 6 months. It’s been a bit of a marathon. I’m not used to this kind of stuff. I usually do smaller little movies and if I’m lucky it’s a six week stretch often times just a month. So this has been different for me.
Real Style Network: Is it a big transition to go from one to the other?
Rossif Sutherland: It is a transition in many ways. Not just in that marathon aspect of having to work for six months. But that thing of when you are working on TV your character is being created on the go. You are signed on, so you have to do what people tell you to do. You work your way with your character and you fight for him and stand up for him. It’s a constant exchange, but I’m not used to that. With film you know what you are signing on to because the script is written and that’s what you are working from and there is a beginning, middle and end. These conversations are had beforehand. When you are working on TV it’s a completely different beast.
Real Style Network: Your character is the new kid as well. Did you find yourself relating to his struggle to fit in?
Rossif Sutherland: Sure, there is that aspect, but I chose to go in the opposite direction. I wanted him to be a guy who took great pride in doing his job, but he wasn’t going to be the new kid on campus who is trying to fit in and impress everybody and is the butt of every joke. He is a bit of an independent spirit. He does his job and people like him or they don’t. All he really cares about is that he can look at himself in the mirror and feel like he has done a good job. He’s been a joy to work on.
Real Style Network: How do you find that King is different from so many other cop shows on TV right now?
Rossif Sutherland: It’s an unusual story, although it is based on a true story. It’s all centered around a female detective who is very much a woman in a man’s world. She gets to preserve her identity and her sexual identity. She wears her high heels to crime scenes. It’s not just to be cute or funny…. It comes from a place of a woman trying to preserve her identity as a woman in a very masculine world. She gets to bring her qualities of thinking outside of the box and a certain level of compassion that maybe men don’t have. It’s all around a crime and these procedurals have been done quite too many times. These stories have been told again and again. Ultimately in order to change these things up, you need to change the axis of your narrative and it was smart to do it that way. They were very lucky in finding Amy, who plays the lead. She is a heck of a trooper.
Rossif Sutherland: I wanted the experience of doing the season of a TV show. I got to meet with the executive producer and creator of the show when I came to Toronto to work on a few jobs. We had dinner and I really liked them. They said ‘Listen we’ve got this slot open. We know that we need a character and we’d love to have you on, but we don’t quite know yet who he’s going to be, what kind of a guy he is going to be. If you are willing to trust us we promise to make this interesting and fun.’ I don’t know why but I felt like ‘Yeah, sure. Why not?’ You choose jobs for many different reasons. Sometimes it’s the script. Other times it’s the people you get to work with. This time it was the latter and I don’t regret it.
Real Style Network: Growing up in a family of actors, did you always know this was the direction that you were going to take?
Rossif Sutherland: No. I actually always knew that it wasn’t. Acting was the last thing I wanted to do. Not because I didn’t have respect for it. I did. I had a lot of respect for what my father did. I did see what he did as art and I knew he was an artist and I knew he was striving for truth. I admired that, but I never wanted to pretend to be other people. I spent a lot of time writing when I was a kid and it was always me trying to figure out who I was and all of those big questions about life. I had the privilege when I was 23 years old to study with a teacher who was able to show me that acting would actually be permission for me to figure out who I was even more than I would on my own just being me. As he put it, acting would give me permission to be all of the people that I could have been. Not me being other people, but the people that I could have been. You just put me, my body and soul at a different address, different parents, different upbringing, different hobbies, but ultimately it’s always coming from me. When he put it that way it seemed like the opportunity to travel through life.
Watch Rossif on King on Shawcase Wednesday nights at 9 pm.
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