TODAY   |  June 20, 2013

Donald Sutherland: TV is ‘wonderful opportunity’

Hollywood legend Donald Sutherland has acted in more than 170 films and now stars in the new TV show “Crossing Lines.” He tells Kathie Lee and Hoda that the writing attracted him to the role and talks about the great opportunities for actors in mixing film, TV and commercials.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> donald sutherland says he's done very close to 170 films, but he is, as you can imagine, a true hollywood legend. and he starred in everything from the 1971 mystery where he played opposite jane fonda to " national lampoon's animal house " which means quite the spectrum here. for all you younger fans he's known as president snow from the blockbuster hunger games.

>> now he's starring in nbc 's new series called "crossing lines" playing an inspector helping an elite team solve crimes across europe. it sounds pretty exciting, so let's take a look.

>> i refuse to sanction your team.

>> what?

>> i've warned you. my hands are pretty much tied. very cautious, those men in there. they don't seek fame or ambition. they're incorruptible which means it's very difficult to make a deal with them.

>> they give a reason for refusal?

>> yeah, they are concerned they would be or would appear to be usurping the power of sovereign states .

>> i love how you take your time.

>> you know something? you missed the best part of it.

>> we didn't cut this.

>> no, because this is -- this is about -- this is about women. and that gabrielle, the womstanding there, turns to me right now and says, i don't understand. and very pompously and pretentuously and paternalistically i say to her, well, i thought you did. she says, no, no, i understand that. i don't understand you. and i said, oh, i beg your pardon. and she says because he's not an investigator, actually, he's the prosecutor of the international criminal court , and he was responsible for kosovo and for rwanda. and she says to him, you wrote a book and it said in that book, the women from kosovo have lost everything. and no one is hearing their weeping. the only place they can go for someone to hear their weeping is this criminal court . and she's there because four women have been murdered. and she says, what about their weeping?

>> sounds familiar.

>> yeah, i know it just -- he goes back and gets permission from the court because that's what interpol has the problem. they can't get permission to go study the crimes because it's like the united states in 1930 .

>> you can tell why you love this role. you are living it all over again. what was it specifically that made you fall in love with this role?

>> besides the writing, which is awesome.

>> it 's wonderful . ed is the writer, the creator.

>> sometimes, when you were talking earlier about big stars, they used to do commercials overseas. they didn't want their star power , their box office power was seen as diminished if they were associated with a product. a lot of great actors have felt that way about television and that's slipping away a little bit now with like al pacino starts doing hbo and you start doing an nbc series. things are changing.

>> well, they changed a long time ago.

>> i think a lot of big stars didn't want to do it because it's television.

>> oh, gosh, that gives you a wonderful opportunity to spend ten hours on a character. and we're lucky on this because we have one producer. we don't have 20 producers.

>> it's not a committee deciding everything.

>> that's exhausting.

>> how about "the hunger games." i can imagine when you walk outside, young kids see you on the street you must have a whole different group --

>> instead of attacking my shoulder, they are attacking my kneecaps.

>> yeah, i guess things get pretty dicey.

>> you -- kiefer and i are going to do a film in two weeks. it's a western in kansas in 1870 .

>> you going to get on a horse?

>> it will be a father and a son. we did a film that we were both in called "a time to kill ," but we didn't have anything to do with each other.

>> how is he doing? tell him hello for us.

>> he 's wonderful .

>> he's going to do the film version of "24" we're reading.

>> no, but he's going to do ten more versions of "24" and that starts in september.

>> we read it was a film.

>> we do three episodes of "crossing lines." it's fantastic.

>> it looks fantastic.

>> but, see, it's not a procedural. it's an observational. it's about people whose main skill is their intelligence and their capacity to observe.

>> imagine that in a television show .

>> it was great to see you, donald.

>> we --

>> i'm done?

>> not because we make the decisions.

>> thank you for being with us. you can catch the two-hours season premiere of "crossing lines" here on nbc .