Keira Knightley reveals surprising reason Donald Sutherland once wore a gas mask to a party

Keira Knightley reveals surprising reason Donald Sutherland once wore a gas mask to a party

Kiera Knightley has fondly recalled the time Donald Sutherland attended a cast party wearing a gas mask for a touching reason.

Knightley, 39, starred opposite the late actor in Joe Wright’s 2005 adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Sutherland played Mr Bennett, father to five daughters including Knightley’s Elizabeth.

Sutherland died aged 88 last week following a long illness, his son, the 24 star Kiefer Sutherland, announced on Thursday (20 June).

In the wake of his death, several of his co-stars, including Knightley, contributed entries to a feature in The Guardian paying tribute to the actor.

Writing about her time working with Sutherland, Knightley, who was 20 at the time, recalled “feeling unbelievably intimidated by his size and reputation when I first met him”.

She went on to explain that he had “this clause in his contract that no one was allowed to smoke anywhere near him”.

“Most of the rest of the cast were in their late teens and early twenties, all chugging away,” she said.

The Pirates of the Caribbean star described the extreme lengths they went to to hide their smoking habit from Sutherland, who was 70 years old at the time of the film’s release.


“We used to manically wash our hands and spray ourselves with perfume after, so he wouldn’t know,” she said. “He’d sniff the air as soon as he came on set and we’d all nervously shuffle about.”

Knightley recalled how he once attended a party in a gas mask out of consideration for his smoking co-stars.

“At some point during filming, he came to a party we all had in a gas mask so we could all smoke,” she said. “I will always remember him standing in the middle of that party in a gas mask.”


Elsewhere, she described the legendary actor as “terrifying and impish and generous”, recalling how he had given the cast “gifts and invitations to visit him on his lake in Canada”.

Sutherland’s turn as Mr Bennett was responsible for several of the most memorable moments in the film.

In behind-the-scenes footage reshared on social media, Sutherland was full of praise for his co-stars.

“You’ve no idea when you come into a picture, what Keira Knightley is going to be like,” he began. “And it turns out, she is as extraordinary an actor as I’ve ever met in my life.

You can read The Independent’s Kevin E G Perry’s tribute to Sutherland here.