A Synonym For Magnificent? Kiefer Sutherland.
What a marvelous actor, not just a good one. Unmistakable and unique in vision and voice. And despite the spanking resemblance to his famous pop on so many levels, he’s comfortable in his own skin. That’s what enabled such a terrific personal encounter on more than one occasion. Plus, music is in this guy’s soul, to the very core. I bet it explains a lot about his acting approach being so seasoned. And what comes through in his speaking delivery is pure human music. He’s also been a big factor in helping many musicians get a footing, having an uncanny connection to the roots of what makes a musician tick. He knows what he likes.
I often think back on our interlude for wonderful energy and direction. That’s the human bonus of superb encounters like these. They’re evergreen. No preservatives needed. I like to regard myself as an early recipient of his musical blessings, however lightly so. He’s had a few favorite LA haunts over the years, this episode taking place at the Beverly Wilshire, where, a few years back he particularly liked to hang, both for business and recreation. The free time that he spent in the bar was pure pleasure to the hilt for everyone involved.
One summer evening he strolled right up out of the blue and said “I had to come in, because you played ‘Main Street’ (Bob Seger) yesterday, didn’t you?” I answered yes, and had he noticed that just passing by? He told me exactly that, he had been sitting outside the entrance in an alcove and heard it and had liked the treatment of it. I told him it was one of my special favorites, and we both bonded over it. His extraordinary perception came to light when he asked if I were playing it for myself, rather than for the room or a request. Bingo. I was. And that fact must have fallen on his ears. The really cosmic part is that the song reminds me of his own nostalgic attitude in some of his acting and mannerisms. Go figure that coincidence—celestial or what??
Next night he was there for hours, unashamed to be by himself. But he wasn’t really by himself. He has one of those “alone but not lonely” attitudes, where he can set up a great environment around himself anywhere. He was doing as much people-watching of everyday customers as they all were of him. Just taking in the scene, enjoying simply being out, much to the amazement of those around him, and comfortable as usual. Magnificent. If cameras were rolling, he could have singlehandedly transformed the bar into a grand saloon of yesteryear, with dashing flourishes of gentlemanly demeanor, exuding involuntarily from his every mannerism.
Soon he moved to the chair right behind me, rolled up his shirtsleeves and intently listened and occasionally commented for the next couple hours. At one point he exclaimed, “Hey I saw you taking your clothes in to the cleaners the other day on Santa Monica. I felt for you, I wanted you to have someone to do that for you! That was you! I wanted to call out,” he said. I was stunned. Because it was perfectly true! He had recognized me from afar, and was telling me now. What a heart he has. I was charmed. “Did I look down and out?”, I asked. “Oh hell no, you looked fine. But it was youuuu! I saw you!” Was he Tony and I Kiefer? Here was a giant of American film and TV, talking to me like our positions in society had reversed. We were just a couple of homespun dudes at that exchange. I was thrilled.
He told me about his studio, and his love of music, and how he wanted to produce eventually, when he had time to devote more to it. He actually went on to start doing that a few years later. He listened so intently to what I did, and made it all the more valuable. Soon it was time to roll his sleeves back down, take care of the check and walk out to his driver. He told me he’d be back. And he was many times. I’ll never forget his last gesture: He got up, shook my hand with a heartfelt thanks, then pounded his fist on the piano lid, pointed both his left and right index fingers at me and bellowed in that Sutherland baritone: “I f- - - - - g love you man!!”
“Main Street “ is sure his song now, are you kidding? He didn’t have to be the wonderful way that he was. He could have never engaged, commented, nor come up. And it wouldn’t have been wrong nor abnormal. But then it wouldn’t have been the magnificent Kiefer.