Most know Sam Neill as that dinosaur-guy in Jurassic Park, but I will always remember him as the one and only actor that has scared me senseless. In the movie Event Horizon, his voice alone sent chills up my spine…
Sam Neill was born on September 14, 1947 in Omagh, Northern Ireland to Dermot (Originally from New Zealand) and Priscilla Neill. Originally born as Nigel, Sam took up the nickname “Sam” because of the many Nigels at his school; he continues to use the name (but doesn’t Nigel Neill sound nice?).
The family moved back to New Zealand in 1954. Sam attended Canterbury University as an English major, and he participated in many plays there. One of his first films, My Brilliant Career (and the press that followed), gave Neill the courage to pursue acting full-force. Neill has stated, "It was when I started My Brilliant Career that I thought, this is something I can do and want to do."
Some critics were very impressed by Sam’s role in My Brilliant Career, and he was offered the lead in The Final Conflict: Omen III (his first American film). While filming, he started dating Lisa Harrow, the leading lady. They had one child, Tim, but never settled down.
While in London, Neill put his name in the stars with his role of Sidney Reilly in the TV series, Reilly: Ace of Spies. With that role, he received a Golden Globe nomination and won “The Most Popular Actor in the UK” award (?). Despite his growing popularity as an actor, Neill was still seen as an “Aussie” actor. Continuing in this tradition, he starred in A Cry in the Dark with Meryl Streep. He won an Australian Film Institute Best Actor award (Meryl Streep won Best Actress and the film won Best Picture). Unfortunately, he was not nominated for an Academy Award.
Next came Dead Calm, where Sam and Noriko Watanabe (make-up artist) fell in love and later married. You might recognize Dead Calm as an old movie with Nicole Kidman in it. I love Nicole Kidman, but the movie refused to pull me in completely. However, it did draw in Tom Cruise’s attention and a role for Nicole in Days of Thunder (if Tom really loves you, he’ll put you in one of his movies, babe).
After Dead Calm, Neill was in many good movies but often had forgotten parts. Some (but not all include): The Hunt for Red October, Until the End of the World, Fever, Memoirs of an Invisible Man, Hostage, The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, and the Piano. Trust me, if you look for him, he will be “Oh! Oh! It’s that guy!”
Then of course there was Jurassic Park. That’s the movie that brought him to my generation (until I realized he was in so many other great films). I know he did some commercials, had an appearance on the Simpsons, and of course starred in more movies. He was in Event Horizon, which is seriously one of the only movies that has ever scared me. People generally think the movie is lame or terrifying (I hear it had a cult following in Seattle, while it was completely ignored in the Quad Cities). All I know is that Sam Neill’s voice alone continued to scare the shit out of me for a long time!
There are of course many, many other credits and films that could be discussed further. Ooh, anyone inspired to accompany my node?
Other People can send fan mail to:
Mr Sam Neill
Shanahan Management Pty Ltd
P.O. Box 1509
Darlinghurst NSW 1300