Sam Neill life and biography

Sam Neill picture, image, poster

Sam Neill biography

Date of birth : 1964-09-14
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Omagh, Northern Ireland, UK
Nationality : English
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-10-24
Credited as : Jurassic Park, , New Zealand Order of Merit

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Nigel John Dermot "Sam" Neill, DCNZM, OBE is a New Zealand actor. He is well known for his starring role as paleontologist Dr Alan Grant in Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III.

He has also had a number of high-profile roles including: the lead in Reilly, Ace of Spies, the adult Damien in Omen III: The Final Conflict, Merlin in the miniseries Merlin, Captain Vasily Borodin in The Hunt for Red October, Colonel Geofferey Brydon in Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book, and Alisdair Stewart in The Piano. Most recently he played Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in the Peace Arch Entertainment production for Showtime, The Tudors.

Neill was born in Northern Ireland, the second son of Dermot Neill, a Harrow- and Sandhurst-educated army officer and third-generation New Zealander of Scottish ancestry, and his English wife Priscilla. At the time of Neill's birth, his father was stationed in Northern Ireland, serving with the Irish Guards.The family owned Neill and Co., the largest liquor retailers in New Zealand.

In 2004 on Australian talk show Enough Rope, interviewer Andrew Denton briefly touched on the issue of Sam's "very bad" stuttering. It affected most of his childhood and as a result he was "hoping that people wouldn't talk to [him]" so he wouldn't have to answer back. He has mostly outgrown it, however he claims it can still be detected to this day.
He first took to calling himself "Sam" at school in New Zealand where there were other Nigels and the name Nigel was "a little effete for ... a New Zealand playground".

After working at the New Zealand National Film Unit as a director and actor Neill was cast as the lead in the New Zealand film Sleeping Dogs. Following this he appeared in the Australian classic, My Brilliant Career (1979), opposite Judy Davis.

This appearance led to his being selected to play Damien Thorn in Omen III: The Final Conflict in 1981 one of the sequels to The Omen. In the late 1970s, his mentor was the notable British actor James Mason. Neill was also one of the leading candidates to succeed Roger Moore in the role of James Bond but he lost out to Timothy Dalton.

Neill has played heroes and villains in a succession of film and television dramas and comedies. In the UK he became well-known in the early 1980s starring in dramas such as Ivanhoe and notably in the title role of Reilly, Ace of Spies. Neill is known for his leading and co-starring roles in major films including Dead Calm (1989), La Révolution française (1989) playing the famous Marquis de Lafayette, The Hunt for Red October (1990), Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992), The Piano (1993), Jurassic Park (1993), Sirens (1994), Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1994), In the Mouth of Madness (1995), Event Horizon (1997), Bicentennial Man (1999), The Dish (2000) and Jurassic Park III (2001).

The film Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill (1995) was written and directed by Sam Neill and Judy Rymer. In it Neill narrated his personal recollection of New Zealand film history.

In 1993, Neill co-starred with Anne Archer in Question of Faith, an independent drama based on a true story about one woman's fight to beat cancer and have a baby.

Neill was asked to play the role of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson but turned it down because of his contractual obligations to another Jurassic Park III (2001). He hosted and narrated a series of documentaries for BBC entitled Space (Hyperspace in the United States) in 2002.

In 2006, Neill recorded a series of radio adverts for Fifth Third Bank in the midwestern U.S.
Neill also appeared in Merlin (1998), a film based on the legend of King Arthur and the Lady of the Lake, portraying the legendary wizard. He also reprised his role as Merlin in the film Merlin's Apprentice (2006) in which Merlin learns he fathered a son with the Lady of the Lake.

Neill starred in the historical drama The Tudors on the Showtime Network playing Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. "I have to say I really enjoyed making The Tudors", Neill said, “It was six months with a character that I found immensely intriguing, with a cast that I liked very much and with a story I found very compelling. It has elements that are hard to beat: revenge and betrayal, lust and treason, all the things that make for good stories." Neill starred as Mr Jones in Under the Mountain and as Charles Bromley in Daybreakers.

He also starred in an ABC TV production called Happy Town (2010) in which he played Merritt Grieves, a mysterious movie memorabilia shop proprietor. Neill has also been cast in the Fox TV production Alcatraz as the character, Emerson Hauser. He has joined the cast of a feature adaptation of the Arthur Miller play A View from the Bridge, scheduled to begin shooting in June 2011.

Neill resides in Queenstown, New Zealand and also has homes in Wellington, New Zealand and Sydney, Australia. He has one son, Tim (born in 1983), by New Zealand actress Lisa Harrow, and one daughter, Elena (born in 1991), by makeup artist Noriko Watanabe, whom he had married in 1989. He also has a stepdaughter Maiko Spencer (born 1981) who is from Noriko Watanabe's first marriage. He is a supporter of the Australian Speak Easy Association and the British Stammering Association (BSA).
Neill also supports the Australian Labor Party, the New Zealand Labour Party,Greenpeace, Oxfam and the World Wildlife Fund. He is a patron of the National Performance Conference and donated a pair of jeans to the Jeans for Genes auction; they were painted by artist Merv Moriarty and auctioned off in August 1998.

Neill's hobby is running a vineyard called the Two Paddocks winery in Central Otago on New Zealand's South Island. "I’d like the vineyard to support me but I’m afraid it is the other way round. It is not a very economic business," said Neill, "It is a ridiculously time and money-consuming business. I would not do it if it was not so satisfying and fun: and it gets me pissed once in a while."

Neill is friends with New Zealand musicians Neil Finn and Tim Finn, of Crowded House and Split Enz, and with Australian musician Jimmy Barnes.
Neill has been appointed a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (DCNZM). When knighthoods were returned to the New Zealand Honours System in 2009, those with DCNZM or higher honours were given the option of converting them into knighthoods. Neill chose not to do this, saying the title of Sir was "just far too grand, by far".

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