The interview with IGN isn’t the only instance of Whedon popping off about Sutherland. During a conversation with The A.V. Club in 2001, Whedon took things a step further and called the Emmy Award winner a “prick.” Read his rant below:
“He was just a prick […] He would rewrite all his dialogue, and the director would let him. He can’t write — he’s not a writer — so the dialogue would not make sense. And he had a very bad attitude. He was incredibly rude to the director, he was rude to everyone around him, he was just a real pain. And to see him destroying my stuff … Some people didn’t notice. Some people liked him in the movie. Because he’s Donald Sutherland. He’s a great actor. He can read the phone book, and I’m interested. But the thing is, he acts well enough that you didn’t notice, with his little rewrites, and his little ideas about what his character should do, that he was actually destroying the movie […]”
Listen, I’m an unapologetic lover of the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” movie, and it speaks a lot more to my sensibilities than the series ever did (despite loving the series), and given what we now know about Whedon’s controlling behavior on his own sets, it’s hard not to view his comments as nothing more than a tantrum from a creative who felt threatened by someone daring to question his self-believed “brilliance.” Was Donald Sutherland actually a prick, or is Whedon a man incapable of taking constructive criticism or trusting an actor’s instincts? I don’t have an answer for that, because I wasn’t there, but I do know that no one else who has ever worked with Donald Sutherland has made a sequel project and included creative choices that retconned his visions so that fans could enjoy the property again.