The 49-year-old actor praised the 48-year-old actress this week on The Jess Cagle Interview for having the “courage” to end their engagement just days before their 1991 wedding.
“She was being realistic for herself,” Sutherland said. “I think it’s hard to explain the pressure. We were young and we were both very much in love and we had decided that we wanted to get married. But then this other thing kind of took over — she was arguably the most famous woman in the world.”
“This wedding that was supposed to be something between the two of us became something so big,” he elaborated. “In the middle of that, I think she had the courage [to admit] it wasn’t what she wanted to do in the end. I think it took a lot of courage, amongst all of that other stuff, to be able to say, ‘I can’t do this.'”
Sutherland and Roberts met on the set of Flatliners in 1989 and got engaged the next year. The couple split amid rumors Sutherland had cheated, and Roberts was linked to the actor’s friend Jason Patric the same day they were to wed.
“I commend Julia for seeing how young and silly we were, even at the last minute, even as painful and as difficult as it was. Thank God she saw it,” Sutherland said in a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone.
“It’s not a matter of [forgiving Jason]. We were friends, and I’m surprised that I never got a call from him saying I’ve fallen in love with da-da-da. Instead, I found out from a stranger,” he added.
Sutherland told Redbook in 2012 that he and Patric reconciled and are “great friends.” The Designated Survivor star was married to Kelly Winn from 1996 to 2004, while Roberts is currently wed to Daniel Moder.