The Real Reason Donald Sutherland Came To Star In Kate Bush’s ‘Cloudbusting’ Video

Fans look back on his memorable appearance...

The passing of revered actor Donald Sutherland has sparked memories of his guest appearance in the Kate Bush video for ‘Cloudbusting’.

The song is a pivotal moment on the English artist’s internationally successful ‘Hounds Of Love’ album, and came back with a memorable video. The lyrics took inspiration from the 1973 Peter Reich memoir A Book of Dreams, with the song honing in on the relationship between Peter and his father, the psychiatrist and philosopher Wilhelm Reich.

The video was shot by Julian Doyle, and dreamed up by Kate Bush working in tandem with Monty Python co-founder Terry Gilliam. In the striking clip, Donald Sutherland takes the role of Wilhelm Reich, and Kate Bush plays Peter.

Initially, however, the actor had absolutely no interest in the shoot. Approached multiple times, he set back multiple rejections – until Kate Bush personally knocked on his door to ask.

“I wanted it to be a piece of film rather than a video promotional clip,” Bush told MTV in 1985. “I wanted it to be a short piece of film that would hopefully do justice to the original book and let people understand the story that couldn’t really be explained in the song. So we wanted a great actor. We thought of Donald Sutherland.”

Kate Bush

The 1985 edition of the Kate Bush Club newsletter contains the full story, with Donald Sutherland detailing his initial refusal. “Barry Richardson, who was the hairdresser on Nic Roeg’s Don’t Look Now, asked me if I’d do a music video with Kate Bush. I told him no and we went on to other conversations,” Sutherland said.

Learning that he was staying at the Savoy Hotel in London, Kate Bush decided to intervene. “I opened it. There was no one there,” he recalled. “I heard a voice saying hello and I looked down. Standing down there was a very small Kate Bush. Barry had told her where I lived. What can you do?”

Kate Bush explained the song’s lyrics and narrative in detail, emphasising the connection to Wilhelm Reich – whose work Donald Sutherland was familiar with while filming Bernardo Bertolucci’s Novecento. “Everything about Reich echoed through me,” he explained. “He was there then and now he was here. Sitting across from me in the person of the very eloquent Kate Bush. Synchronicity. Perfect. She talked some more. I said okay and we made ‘Cloudbusting.’”

“She’s wonderful, Kate Bush. Wonderful. I love that I did it,” Sutherland continued. “I remember being in the car and the hill and them taking me, taking Reich, away and looking back through the back window of the car and seeing her, seeing Reich’s son Peter, standing there. And I remember the first morning on set seeing her coming out of her trailer smoking a joint and I cautioned her, saying she shouldn’t smoke that, it’d affect her work, and she looked at me for a second and said she hadn’t been straight for nine years and I loved her.”

For her part Kate Bush told MTV: “Whenever we were acting, he was my father. I just had to react to him like a child. He made it very easy.”

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