Welcome to Sam Neill Web. The number one fansite supporting the career of actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Sam Neill, most known for his roles in Jurassic Park, Event Horizon, Peaky Blinders, The Piano, The Final Conflict, Rams and the recently released Jurassic World Dominion. This website will provide you with the most up to date news, projects, images and so much more on Sam’s career and appearances. Many thanks for visiting and be sure to check back for updates.
‘I dodged a bullet with James Bond’

The ‘Peaky Blinders’ star on his New Zealand oasis, Jacinda Ardern and tech titans buying bolt holes against catastrophe

It’s pouring with rain, and Sam Neill is chasing a white duck around a lake on his vineyard home near Clyde in New Zealand. “Come on Charlie, I know you missed me,” shouts the actor and winemaker, who has just returned from Australia, where he spends a lot of time working. “I give my animals the names of my friends so they don’t end up on the dinner plate,” explains the 70-year-old with a chuckle as he sweeps Charlie, named after his good mate Charlie Pickering, an Australian comedian, up into his arms.


The emotional reunion between man and beast stands in contrast to Neill’s characterisation in his latest movie, Peter Rabbit. In this adaptation of the Beatrix Potter book, he stars in the role of crazed, bulging-eyed gardener, Mr McGregor, who declares war on the local rabbit population that are eating his vegetables. Lake Dunstan and the view north looking towards the vineyard and farm which Neill bought from the New Zealand government in 2000, the animals, which include pigs named Anjelica Huston and Imogen Poots, appear to be doted on by their celebrity proprietor.

Neill has worked with some of the world’s best actors and directors on big box office smashes, including Jurassic Park, as well as critically acclaimed art-house movies, such as The Piano. He is also a star in the popular British television drama Peaky Blinders. But at Two Paddocks there is little acting memorabilia on display. Instead, it is a shrine to one of Neill’s other great passions: making wine. “I take great pride in the wine that we make. When you get 95 points from Wine Spectator in New York two years in a row you are clearly making one of the great Pinot Noirs of the world — so, ambition fulfilled,” says Neill. Neill’s vinyl collection and music station in the day room

Neill owns four small organic vineyards in New Zealand’s Central Otago region, which produce Pinot Noir and a little bit of Riesling. He planted his first grapes in 1993 and sells his wine in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. “People are taking the wine seriously, as they should, and that has taken a while,” he says. “People tend to underestimate actors. They say ‘he is an actor, what would he know?’” For someone who has spent his career zooming between filming locations around the world — more than 60 countries at the last count — Two Paddocks is an important anchor for Neill.


Neill is separated from his second wife Noriko Watanabe, with whom he has one daughter. He has three other children and four grandchildren and there is a regular procession of family members through his vineyard, which is located at the foot of a gorge underneath the snow-capped peaks of New Zealand’s Southern Alps. “I am well planted in the land. In this little oasis,” he says. Neill would not comment on media reports that he is dating one of Australia’s most prominent political journalists, Laura Tingle. Neill lives in a converted tractor shed on the vineyard, which he describes as his “man cave”. The corrugated iron structure has an open plan living room and kitchen and a single bedroom.

The living room is bright and airy with skylights, large windows, wooden floors and minimalist decor that includes two small modern sofas, a table and two red leather chairs. A large wood-burning stove provides heat for the cold winters in the Queenstown region. Neill owns a record player, a large vinyl collection and a lot of books. One of his favourite books is The Last September by the Anglo-Irish novelist Elizabeth Bowen. “I’m really interested in the crumbling remains of the Ascendancy [in Ireland]. So much great literature came out of that era,” says Neill, who was born in Northern Ireland and moved to New Zealand when he was six or seven years old. He says the shock of moving at a young age to a rather brutal New Zealand school, as a shy kid who spoke like a Pom, probably turned him into an actor. “I had to learn fast to become a New Zealander.

I’m convinced that is the seeds of acting,” he says. The walls of the “man cave” are decorated with art, including work by Gavin Chilcott and Neil Dawson, two prominent New Zealand artists. Dawson is famous for making large-scale sculptures using aluminium and steel for civic use. One of these large metal pieces — a weathervane in the shape of a feather — sits proudly on a hill within the vineyard’s grounds. Neill is also interested in Indigenous art.

“I’ve been looking at the effects of colonialism a lot this year,” says Neill, who is making a documentary about Captain Cook for television and recently completed Sweet Country, a western set in the Australian outback in the 1920s in which he plays the role of a preacher. “The damage wreaked by colonialism, and in particular by missionaries, is so clearly evident all around the Pacific,” he says. “There has been a lot of not thinking about this in Australia. But this needs to be thought about and addressed. You cannot leave these as open wounds.” Neill’s modest living quarters are surrounded by beautiful native trees, including beech, rata and kowhai, which provide shade in the summer. Fields surrounding the garden produce a rich harvest of lavender, saffron, figs and other exotic fruits.

“Every time I come back here these trees are a little more mature. I’m planting a lot more native trees and the native birds are coming back — these things give me immense pleasure,” he says. A birthday gift to Neill titled ‘A Day in the Life’, by Blair Sommerville is an environmental advocate, who recently starred in a Greenpeace advert calling for a ban on single use plastic bags. He is an advocate for organic farming and would like to see politicians and business leaders take climate change more seriously. “I’m not a wild-eyed crazy hippy, but I do think we have to be extremely sceptical about the use of chemicals,” he says. “We all have to be concerned about the planet. It astonishes me we are all still being sold trickle-down economics, which is all about greed, and the environment and everyone else can go to hell in a hand-basket.


I have four grandchildren and I’m very concerned about their futures.” Neill is a fan of Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand’s prime minister, who he describes as a “rock star” who is pressing all the right buttons. “What a breath of fresh air. The world is run by too many boring, white, middle-aged men like me.” Ralphie the vineyard dog © Vaughan Brookfield Last week Neill hosted an event with former US president Barack Obama, who was on a visit to New Zealand. But he is scathing about the state of politics in the US, saying Trump doesn’t have a “f***ing clue”, and worries the UK is headed for “catastrophe” with Brexit. “I think the EU combined with Nato is one of the great achievements of the 20th century,” he says. When asked if he knows any of the rich foreigners, such as US technology guru Peter Thiel, who have bought “ bolt hole mansions” in this region in case of global catastrophe, Neill is dismissive.

“They are not my people,” he says. “Some of them are here because they think the world is going to shit. But why would anyone want to be the last person left alive on earth? What’s the point? ” Neill says he has no regrets about his acting career and considers himself lucky to have missed out on playing James Bond, a role he auditioned for which was eventually secured by Timothy Dalton. “I dodged a bullet that was never fired,” he says. “You’d walk into a room and people would say ‘that is the James Bond I never liked,’” laughs Neill.

He has no plans to retire any time soon and is currently working on a movie about the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup horse race, Michelle Payne. “I’ve had really great times in the most unlikely places. Actors are really very enjoyable people to be with: they are fun, usually intelligent and they tell great stories. They also like a drink or two. What is not to like?” Jamie Smyth is the FT’s Australia and Pacific Islands correspondent

Source: Financial Times Australia


Sam Neill Q&A: “The world has been run far too long by dull white men”

The New Zealand actor on global politics, his earliest memory, and life on his farm.

Sam Neill was born in 1947 in Omagh in Northern Ireland, and moved with his parents to New Zealand when he was seven. He made his acting debut in the 1977 New Zealand film “Sleeping Dogs”. Since then, he has starred in major Hollywood films, including “Jurassic Park”, as well as British TV shows such as “Peaky Blinders” and the BBC miniseries “And Then There Were None”.

What’s your earliest memory?

My earliest memory is serious whooping cough aged two or three in a little room in the upper floor of a little house on the rocks off the coast in County Durham.

Who were your heroes?

My older brother. He persists in that role to this day. He’s an academic. He’s always taught English. His sidebar interests are in Jacobean literature and contemporary African literature. He was always interested in drama and music, which eventually became my interests as well.

What was the last book you couldn’t put down?

I just put down Michael Wolff’s Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House. It’s a remarkable read. I haven’t read a single line there that I think would be fictitious. It’s a book for our time.

What politician, past or present, do you look up to?

I’m very encouraged by the New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. She is fierce and compassionate. What she is not, and what we’ve had for far too long in New Zealand politics, as well as politics everywhere, is male, pale and stale. The world has been run far too long by dull white men of a certain age.

What would be your Mastermind special subject?

I know a little about a lot of things. I’m like a plank of wood, I’m rather thick.

Which time and place, other than your own, would you like to live in?

The Victorians get a bad rep. Prudish, people say. I don’t know how they bred so well, if they’re so prim and proper. They had inquisitive minds. They were inventing types of science!

What TV show could you not live without?
I’m a bit of a political junkie. Though in many ways it can be deeply depressing, current politics is as good an entertainment as we can wish for. In Australia, it is an ongoing soap opera. In America, the problem is that there it matters so much. And Brexit is so compelling to read about and follow.

Who would paint your portrait?

Could you ask David Hockney if he’d like to volunteer?

What’s your theme tune?

Anything with a ukulele. I enjoy a tune by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra called the “The Ecstasy of Dancing Fleas”. If you want a cheer up, I recommend that.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I actually read it the other day. One sentence that really struck me: Happiness is the feeling you get when you get something done. It could be any number of things. Happiness is getting the dishes not just washed, but dried and got away. I do know when I have five things not done, my mind is in a state of disarray. It’s a pretty simple formula. And it works.

What’s currently bugging you?

I’m addicted to Twitter, but I’m not sure if it’s healthy or a good thing.

What single thing would make your life better?

If the world was run by more sensible people. People with more brain and know-how.

When were you happiest?

I think, probably, a couple of a days ago. I had achieved a couple of jobs around the farm. I felt pretty good about that. I shepherded the sheep by myself. I have an electric bike. I hung a couple of pictures and they look good.

I didn’t really choose my job. I wouldn’t choose my job. I’d just wait until one turns up. I think an architect: I enjoy mid twentieth century modernist architecture.

Are we all doomed?

I certainly hope not. Hopefully those with fingers on triggers are surrounded by sensible people.

Sam Neill’s latest film, “Sweet Country”, is out now in UK cinemas.

Source: New Statesman


‘My Bond audition? It was like a bad dream’

In a few weeks, Sam Neill’s acting career will break the 80-film barrier – but until now, he has never appeared in a western. In Warwick Thornton’s Sweet Country, the New Zealand actor plays a missionary making a new life for himself on the Australian frontier in the 1920s, until he’s drawn into the search for an Aboriginal stockman, Sam Kelly, who against a backdrop of simmering racial tension becomes implicated in the death of a white farmer.

On the morning of Sweet Country’s world premiere at the Venice Film Festival, I sat down with Neill in a quiet courtyard of the city’s Excelsior Hotel to discuss the film, and how he found its provocative story striking all kinds of chords with his own life and beliefs.

From there, it was only a short conversational stroll to some other deeply serious topics, including wine, comedy, his disastrous James Bond audition, and Jurassic Park.

The Australian landscape and climate play such a central role in Sweet Country, both in terms of its look and also the way they reflect what’s going on beneath its surface. Sometimes it almost feels too perfect – in one scene, there’s a rainbow just hanging in the sky above your character’s head, lending an extra sting of irony to the scene that couldn’t have been any better planned.

That was absolutely real. And when opportunities like that present themselves, you have to seize them with both cameras. We certainly didn’t have the money for a CGI rainbow.

Did it actually happen on the day you were supposed to be filming that scene, or did Warwick have to suddenly scramble the cast and crew to get the shot?

I think it was the same day. You know, it barely rains out near Alice Springs, and while we were there we had a downpour like I’d never seen it. A once-every-ten-years things. We were driving back from set and what had been dips in the road that morning had become pools of water so deep they came halfway up the doors of our Land Rovers. But nothing is done by half measures in Australia.

I mean, talk about an upside-down world. Everything is entirely different from anything I’m familiar with at all: I was born in the UK, I live in a green country, New Zealand, and faced with the enormity, the aridity, the profound age of this weathered place, I was in a state of agog-ment. Is that a word? It’ll do for now.

It’s a beautiful landscape, but a deadly one too.

Alice is right in the middle of Australia, and we were never more than two hours away from there, and yet we were able to shoot everything you see in the movie. But the gorge where our characters’ search party meets the Aboriginal warriors – in that same gorge, a few weeks after we left it, a German couple were there on holiday, went walking, got lost, and died of dehydration.

The temperatures there hit more than 40 degrees. They left Hamburg, flew to Australia, then to Alice, then travelled to the gorge, and they were dead within 48 hours of leaving Germany.

The film pulls no punches in its depiction of the tensions between Aboriginal Australians and white settlers, yet it doesn’t feel like a “message movie”. Did you feel duty-bound to make the film in a way that would address this still very live issue, or were you mostly concerned with honouring the story at hand?

It’s all very complex, particularly because the story is based on something that actually happened in Central Australia in the 1920s. [The film’s lead character, Sam Kelly, played by Hamilton Morris, is based on an indigenous stockman from the Northern Territory called Wilaberta Jack: if you want to remain spoiler-free, don’t look him up yet.] Look: at the end of the day it’s a movie, it’s a western, it’s entertainment. But anything that touches on a the relationship between white settlers and the traditional owners of that land will have a political dimension to it.

How controversial is it for an Australian film to depict this kind of material so frankly?

We are in the middle of a history war in Australia, just as America is. There was a Captain Cook monument defaced only this week in Sydney’s Hyde Park, and that shocked me when I saw it – it’s a wonderful statue of Cook, whom I personally admire. But I know he didn’t discover Australia, yet on the base of this statue it says “Discovered these territories, 1770.”

Australian history did not begin in 1770. It’s widely accepted that Aboriginal people have been there for 80,000 years, and there’s a chap currently working on a theory that it may have been 125,000 years. So we are talking about a presence there 123,000 years before Christ. And theirs is a fascinating culture, one that treads lightly on its environment, that cares for its country and its community, and that saw no reason to build great monuments or buildings because they lived in harmony with their surroundings. And this film deals with a very violent episode in which all of these things are impacted.

You’ve played characters with cowboy-ish tendencies before, not least Dr Alan Grant in Jurassic Park. But this is your first full-blooded western. Has the genre always appealed?

I’ve always loved them. I ran into Clint Eastwood a few years ago, and we were chatting away, and I said, “Clint, you know, I’ve made a lot of films but never a western, and it’s a bit of an unrealised ambition.” And he demystified it totally. He said, “You just wear a big hat

And no-one does it better than Clint! There’s something of his hard-bitten westerns with Sergio Leone in Sweet Country, I think – particularly the idea that it’s possible that the morality of this frontier world isn’t as simple as white hats and black hats…

…or good cowboys and bad Indians. My first encounter with westerns was through Roy Rodgers, where things were always pretty clear-cut, if not clean-cut. But Leone and Clint signalled a sea change. And I suppose this film takes certain tropes from those films and turns them upside down again. I think if there’s a single thread running through my work, it’s that I’ve always looked for the dark side in bright characters, or some brightness in dark characters, or some humour in someone who is leadenly serious. Because I think there’ no such thing as white hats or black hats.

Your character in Sweet Country, Fred Smith, is a preacher, and almost certainly thinks of himself as a good man – or at least someone who is doing the right thing by bringing the word of God to the Aboriginal people. But we often get the impression that his faith is somehow absurdly out of context in this place – like in that wonderful scene in which he sings verse after verse Jesus Loves Me This I Know around the fire, to the growing dismay of his campmates.

Look, I don’t want to sound like I know everything about this – the older I get the more I realise the less I know. But my observation is that Christianity, or at least the church, has not done a great deal of good for indigenous people around the Pacific. I’ll be sent to hell for this, and of course there are good and bad missionaries, but missionary work, though it’s by and large carried out by well-intended people, they’re not necessarily doing the best thing. So I’m slightly troubled by my character’s faith. I don’t have any particular faith.

Were you ever religious yourself?

Growing up I was Anglican. What I’ve always liked about Anglicanism is that it’s not very dogmatic, although having said that, there are fundamentalist Anglicans in Australia. But I think what distinguishes Fred from the other so-called whitefellas is he actually sees the Aboriginal people as human. You need to bear in mind that Aboriginal people did not get the vote in their own country until 1967. They have only been recognised as citizens of their own land for the last 50 years. That is something I just cannot get to grips with. So at least he’s a humane man who recognises humanity.

As well as acting, for the last 25 years you’ve been producing wine in New Zealand at your vineyard Two Paddocks. Has that business given you the kind of respect for the land that seems to elude some of the characters in Sweet Country?

Oh yeah. I mean, without sounding like a wanker – though I appreciate I probably sounded like a wanker fro the word go – I love the Aboriginal idea that you don’t own country, country owns you. And increasingly that’s how I feel about my farm: it’s the place in the world that doesn’t belong to me, but I belong to it. I’m very happy in the slow rhythm of life in that place.

On your Twitter and Instagram accounts you often post affectionate pictures of you livestock, many of which seem to be named after other actors. How did that start?

I don’t know, really. But I’ve found that if you’ve got a new calf called Laura Dern, with the best will in the world, you can’t eat Laura Dern. [There is a long pause while Neill grins.] I’m not going to go there. But I only name them after friends I’ve worked with, really. Apart from Amy Schumer. I don’t know Amy Schumer, but there was a chicken that just struck me as being like Amy Schumer. I told her, “You’re Amy Schumer!” And there was a blink of recognition.

The New Zealand sense of humour seems to be having a bit of an international moment right now – not least thanks to Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, in which you had a cameo after starring in his Hunt for the Wilderpeople the year beforehand. Can you pin down exactly what it is?

One of the farmers in Sweet Country has what we’d identify now as post-traumatic stress disorder – he’s come out of the trenches of the First World War and is very, very damaged. And my parents’ generation who’d been bombed, or people like my father who’d fought in the Second World War and seen things that people should never have to see in their lifetime – that entire generation was damaged by that. Just the sound of a car backfiring after that must have been alarming. So having been through all that, the dullness of a sleepy suburban afternoon in New Zealand must have seemed like all you could ever want.

No. Don’t ask! It was all a bad dream. The lesson I learnt that day was never be bullied by your agent into going along to something you don’t want to do ever again. That was the last time.

The role didn’t feel like you?

Absolutely not. And it’s been really interesting being here at the film festival – my friend and I Bryan Brown, we can go into Venice and do whatever we want. We can live a life. And without naming names, some of the people who have been our hotel for the last couple of days, there is no money on earth that could compensate me for the lives they have to live. There are guests on my corridor with six security guards outside their door. Six! And those are the people they now live with.

When you get there, you’ve lost all semblance of life. So I’m very comfortable with whatever career that I have. Because it’s permitted me great privilege with very little loss. But to be a movie star at that level you make a covenant, an agreement with some hellish angel that you cannot get out of. And I wouldn’t wish that on my worst enemy.

After the success of Jurassic Park, did you have to take stock career-wise? Were there any further hellish angel offers?

Actually no, I just muddled along, like I’m muddling along now. But Jurassic Park was always going to be its own thing. It was Steven Spielberg and it was dinosaurs. We had a very good idea when we were making it how it might be received. But it made me realise that sometimes the fabulously popular entertainment can also be the art that endures.

It’s like prog rock versus the pop music of the same era. The very serious music dies off, but the pop of the same time? You cannot kill it. Of course not all blockbusters endure, just like not all art films die. But these things are unpredictable.

You have a very fetching tattoo peeping out from the bottom of your shirt sleeve. Can I ask what it is?

It’s a Maori design. The tattooist is a friend of mine, Gordon Toi, who I met when I was filming The Piano. [He plays one of the Maori characters, Te Kori.] I was filming with him again not so long ago and I just decided to ask him on the spur of the moment if he would do me something, and he said “What do you want?” And I said, “Gordon, you’ve known me for 25 years, you know better than me.” But the symbol is about mapping my journey. Again, at the risk of sounding like a wanker, my origins are Anglo-Saxon and Irish, but I really am a man of the Pacific now. It’s an identity thing, you might say.

Source: The Telegraph

Interviews - Sweet Country

‘The worst thing anyone’s said to me? Did we sleep together? Really?’

Born in Northern Ireland, Sam Neill, 68, grew up in New Zealand. He starred in My Brilliant Career in 1979, Dead Calm (1989), The Piano (1993) and two Jurassic Park movies (1993 and 2001). His TV apperances include Merlin, The Tudors and Peaky Blinders. The Daughter is his latest film. He is married for the second time, has three children and runs a vineyard in New Zealand.

What is your earliest memory?

Racked with whooping cough, aged four.

Which living person do you most admire, and why?
My brother, Michael. He is an academic and has devoted his life to scholarship; my life seems trivial by comparison. Bastard.

What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Sloth. No, wait, greed. No, gluttony.

What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Religious intolerance.

Property aside, what’s the most expensive thing you’ve bought?
It took me 30 years, but I finally bought myself the Patek Philippe watch I’d always wanted. It’s ridiculous how much I love it.

What is your most treasured possession?
My father’s war medals.

What makes you unhappy?
Solitude. I crave company.

What do you most dislike about your appearance?
Pretty much all of it. But these weird fat bits on my hips – yuck!

Who would play you in the film of your life?
Tilda Swinton.

What does love feel like?
The very opposite of solitude.

What is your favourite word?

What is your favourite smell?
The top of a baby’s head. My kids smelled delicious.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A soldier like my father. I would have been useless.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?
“Did we sleep together? Really? Are you quite sure?”

What is your guiltiest pleasure?
Come Dine With Me. Everything you need to know about the British in one tidy hour.

What do you owe your parents?
All the thanks it never occurred to me to give when they were alive.

Which living person do you most despise, and why?
Those cretins who took us into Iraq. All this crap starts with them.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
All my great-great-grandfathers. And Michael Caine.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
I’m sorry to say, the word is fuck.

What is the worst job you’ve done?
Everyone says it’s the Fifa film [United Passions], but I had a marvellous time.

 What has been your biggest disappointment?
My complete ineptitude at sport.

What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Still being in work. And my vineyards; they’re beautiful.

What keeps you awake at night?
Worrying about insomnia.

What song would you like played at your funeral?
I Will Remember You, by Sarah McLachlan. That’ll choke the bastards up if nothing else will.

Tell us a secret
I was christened Nigel. It set me back for years.

Source: The Guardian



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