Nigel John Dermot Neill DCNZM OBE (born 14 September 1947), known professionally as Sam Neill, is a New Zealand actor who first achieved leading roles in films such as Omen III: The Final Conflict, Possession, and Dead Calm and on television in Reilly, Ace of Spies. He won a broad international audience in 1993 for his roles as Alisdair Stewart in The Piano and Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park, a role he reprised in 2001's Jurassic Park III. Neill also had notable roles in Merlin, The Hunt for Red October, Peaky Blinders, and The Tudors. In 2016, he starred in Hunt for the Wilderpeople alongside Julian Dennison, to great acclaim.
Neill at the 2010 Vancouver International Wine Festival
Nigel John Dermot Neill|
14 September 1947
Omagh, Northern Ireland
|Residence||Queenstown, New Zealand|
|Education||Christ's College, Christchurch|
University of Canterbury|
Victoria University of Wellington
|Occupation||Actor, vineyard proprietor|
Lisa Harrow (c.1980–1989)|
Noriko Watanabe (m. 1989)
|Children||4 (one stepdaughter, one son given up for adoption)|
Neill was born in 1947 in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, to Priscilla Beatrice (born Ingham) and Dermot Neill. His father, an army officer, was a third-generation New Zealander, while his mother was born in England. At the time of Neill's birth, his father was stationed in Northern Ireland, serving with the Irish Guards. His father's family owned Neill and Co. (later part of the listed hospitality group Wilson Neill), the largest liquor retailers in New Zealand at the time. Neill holds British citizenship through his place of birth, but identifies primarily as a New Zealander.
In 1954, Neill moved with his family to New Zealand, where he attended the Anglican boys' boarding school Christ's College, Christchurch. He went on to study English literature at the University of Canterbury, where he had his first exposure to acting. He moved to Wellington to continue his tertiary education at Victoria University, where he graduated with a BA in English literature.
In 2004, on the Australian talk show Enough Rope, interviewer Andrew Denton briefly touched on the issue of Neill's stuttering. It affected most of his childhood and as a result he was "hoping that people wouldn't talk to [him]" so he would not have to answer back. He also stated, "I kind of outgrew it. I can still ... you can still detect me as a stammerer."
Neill first took to calling himself "Sam" at school because there were several other students named Nigel, and because he felt the name Nigel was "a little effete for ... a New Zealand playground".
After working at the New Zealand National Film Unit as a director, Neill was cast for the lead role in the 1977 New Zealand film Sleeping Dogs. Following this, he appeared in Australian romance My Brilliant Career (1979), opposite Judy Davis.
In the late 1970s, his mentor was James Mason. In 1981 he won his first big international role, as Damien Thorn, son of the devil, in Omen III: The Final Conflict; also in that year, he played an outstanding main role in Andrzej Żuławski's cult film, Possession. Later, Neill was one of the leading candidates to succeed Roger Moore in the role of James Bond, but lost out to Timothy Dalton. Among his many Australian roles is playing Michael Chamberlain in Evil Angels (1988) (released as A Cry in the Dark outside of Australia and New Zealand), a film about the case of Azaria Chamberlain.
Neill has played heroes and occasionally villains in a succession of film and television dramas and comedies. In the UK, he won early fame and was Golden Globe nominated after portraying real-life spy, Sidney Reilly, in the mini-series Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983). An early American starring role was in 1987's Amerika, playing a senior KGB officer leading the occupation and division of a defeated United States. His leading and co-starring roles in films include the thriller Dead Calm (1989),, the two-part historical epic La Révolution française (1989) (as Marquis de Lafayette), The Hunt for Red October (1990), Death in Brunswick (1990), Jurassic Park (1993), Sirens (1994), The Jungle Book (1994), John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness (1995), Event Horizon (1997), Bicentennial Man (1999), and the comedy The Dish (2000).
Neill has occasionally acted in New Zealand films, notably The Piano (1993), Perfect Strangers (2003), Under the Mountain (2009), and Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016). He returned to directing in 1995 with the documentary Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill (1995) which he wrote and directed with Judy Rymer.
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. In 2000, he provided the voice of Sam Sawnoff in The Magic Pudding. In 2001, he hosted and narrated a documentary series for the BBC entitled Space (Hyperspace in the United States).
Neill starred in the historical drama The Tudors, 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."
He acted in the short-lived Fox TV series Alcatraz (2012) as Emerson Hauser. He played the role of Otto Luger in the fantasy adventure movie The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2014). He had a role in the BBC series Peaky Blinders, set in post-World War I Birmingham. He played the role of Chief Inspector Chester Campbell, a sadistic corrupt policeman, who came to clean up the town on Churchill's orders. In the 2015 BBC TV miniseries And Then There Were None, based on Agatha Christie's thriller, he played the role of General MacArthur.
In 2016, he starred in the New Zealand-made film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, directed by Taika Waititi, as well as the ITV miniseries Tutankhamun. In 2017 Neill appeared in a comedic scene in the fantasy sequel Thor: Ragnarok, in which he portrays an actor playing Odin (as depicted by Sir Anthony Hopkins) alongside Luke Hemsworth and Matt Damon playing Thor and Loki respectively.
From about 1980 to 1989, Neill was in a relationship with actress Lisa Harrow. They have a son, Tim, born in 1983. He subsequently married make-up artist Noriko Watanabe in 1989 and they have one daughter, Elena (born in 1991). Neill is also stepfather to Maiko Spencer, a daughter from Noriko's first marriage. Neill fathered a son, Andrew, in his early twenties, who was adopted by someone else. In 2014, Neill said the two "went looking for [one another]" and that their reunion was "much more grown-up" than expected. In early 2018, Neill was reported to be in a relationship with Australian journalist Laura Tingle.
Neill lives in Queenstown and owns a winery called Two Paddocks, consisting of a vineyard at Gibbston and two near Alexandra, all in the Central Otago region of New Zealand's South Island. Neill's hobby is running Two Paddocks. "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 enjoys sharing his exploits on the farm through social media. He names his farm animals after film-industry colleagues. His farming exploits can be seen on his Twitter account @TwoPaddocks.
Neill also has homes in Wellington, New Zealand, and Sydney, Australia. He is a supporter of the Australian Speak Easy Association and the British Stammering Association (BSA). He supports the New Zealand Labour Party and the Australian Labor Party.
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".
|1979||Just Out of Reach||Mike|
|My Brilliant Career||Harry Beecham|
|1981||Omen III: The Final Conflict||Damien Thorn|
|From a Far Country||Marian|
|1982||Ivanhoe||Brian de Bois-Guilbert|
|Attack Force Z||Sergeant D.J. (Danny) Costello|
|1984||The Blood of Others||Bergman|
|The Country Girls||Mr Gentleman|
|1985||Robbery Under Arms||Captain Starlight|
|1986||For Love Alone||James Quick|
|1987||The Good Wife||Neville Gifford|
|1988||Evil Angels (A Cry in the Dark)||Michael Chamberlain||Won the AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role|
|1989||Dead Calm||John Ingram|
|La Révolution française||Gilbert du Motier, marquis de Lafayette|
|1990||The Hunt for Red October||Captain Vasily Borodin|
|Shadow of China||TV reporter||Credited as John Dermot|
|1991||Death in Brunswick||Carl 'Cookie' Fitzgerald||Nominated – AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role|
|Until the End of the World||Eugene Fitzpatrick|
|1992||The Rainbow Warrior||Alan Galbraith|
|Memoirs of an Invisible Man||David Jenkins|
|1993||The Piano||Alisdair Stewart||Nominated – AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role|
|Jurassic Park||Dr. Alan Grant|
|1994||Country Life||Dr. Max Askey|
|The Jungle Book||Colonel Geofferey Brydon|
|In the Mouth of Madness||John Trent|
|1995||Restoration||King Charles II|
|1996||Children of the Revolution||Nine|
|1997||Event Horizon||Dr. William Weir|
|Snow White: A Tale of Terror||Lord Fredric Hoffman|
|1998||The Horse Whisperer||Robert MacLean|
|Sweet Revenge||Henry Bell|
|1999||Molokai||Walter Murray Gibson|
|Bicentennial Man||'Sir' Richard Martin|
|2000||My Mother Frank||Professor Mortlock||Nominated – AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role|
|The Dish||Cliff Buxton|
|The Magic Pudding||Sam Sawnoff||Voice role|
|2001||Jurassic Park III||Dr. Alan Grant|
|The Zookeeper||Ludovic||Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival Award for Best Actor|
|2003||Perfect Strangers||The Man|
|Little Fish||The Jockey|
|2008||Dean Spanley||Dean Spanley|
|2009||In Her Skin||Mr. Reid|
|Iron Road||Alfred Nichol|
|Under the Mountain||Mr. Jones|
|2010||Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole||Allomere||Voice role|
|2011||The Dragon Pearl||Chris Chase|
|The Hunter||Jack Mindy||Nominated – AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role|
|2012||The Vow||Bill Thornton|
|2013||Escape Plan||Dr. Kyrie|
|The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box||Otto Luger|
|2014||United Passions||João Havelange|
|A Long Way Down||Jess's father|
|The Daughter||Walter Finch||Nominated – AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role|
|2016||Hunt for the Wilderpeople||Uncle Hec|
|Tommy's Honour||Alexander Boothby|
|2017||Thor: Ragnarok||Odin actor||Cameo|
|Sweet Country||Fred Smith|
|2018||The Commuter||Captain David Hawthorne|
|Peter Rabbit||Mr. Joe McGregor / Tommy Brock||Voice role (as Tommy Brock)|
|1980||Lucinda Brayford||Tony Duff||Four-part miniseries|
ABC Television, Melbourne Australia
|1982||Ivanhoe||Brian de Bois-Guilbert|
|1983||Reilly, Ace of Spies||Sidney Reilly||12 episodes|
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
|1985||Kane & Abel||William Lowell Kane|
|1986||Strong Medicine||Vince Lord|
|1987||Amerika||Colonel Andrei Denisov|
|1991||One Against the Wind||Sergeant James Liggett|
|1993||Family Pictures||David Eberlin|
|1994||The Simpsons||Malloy||Voice role|
Episode: "Homer the Vigilante"
|1996||In Cold Blood||Agent Alvin Dewey|
|1998||Merlin||Merlin||Nominated—Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie|
Nominated—Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Miniseries or Television Film
|The Games||Citytrans CEO||Episode: "Transport"|
|2000||Sally Hemings: An American Scandal||Thomas Jefferson|
|2001||Submerged||Lt. Cmdr. Charles B. 'Swede' Momsen|
|2002||Doctor Zhivago||Victor Komarovsky|
|Jessica||Richard Runche||Logie Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series|
Nominated—AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in a Television Drama
|2005||The Incredible Journey of Mary Bryant||Governor Arthur Phillip||2 episodes|
|To the Ends of the Earth||Mr. Prettiman||3 episodes|
|The Triangle||Eric Benerall||3 episodes|
Nominated—Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor on Television
|Two Twisted||Mick||Episode: "Von Stauffenberg's Stamp"|
|2007||The Tudors||Cardinal Thomas Wolsey||10 episodes|
Nominated—Gemini Award for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Drama Series
Nominated—Monte-Carlo Television Festival Award for Outstanding Actor in a Drama Series
|2008–2010||Crusoe||Jeremiah Blackthorn||14 episodes|
|2009||Happy Town||Merritt Grieves||8 episodes|
Episode: "To Sam with Love"
|2010||Rake||Dr Bruce Chandler||Episode: "R v Chandler"|
|2012||Alcatraz||Emerson Hauser||13 episodes|
|2013||Harry||Jim "Stocks" Stockton|
|2013–2014||Peaky Blinders||C.I. Campbell||12 episodes|
|2014||Old School||Ted Macabe|
|2014||House of Hancock||Lang Hancock|
|2015||And Then There Were None||General John Gordon Macarthur|
|2016||Why Anzac with Sam Neill||Himself||Documentary, wrote and produced|
|New Zealand: Earth's Mythical Islands||Narrator||Documentary series, 3 episodes|
|Country Calendar||Himself||Episode: "Film Noir"|
- Beck, Chris (2 September 2004). "The interview". The Age. Australia. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- Condon, Eileen (8 May 2001). "Dishy Sam's got space aspirations; For an actor fascinated by space travel Sam Neill must have thought he'd landed a dream role with his new film, The Dish. The Omagh-born actor talks to Eileen Condon about his latest role". The News Letter. Retrieved 10 December 2007.
- James Beech (2014-03-04). "Vineyard named in honour of father". Otago Daily Times.
- Annabel Wilson (2017-11-21). "Obituary: Otago businessman Robert Wilson remembered as food industry pioneer". stuff.co.nz.
- Interview, Radio Times, 11–17 October 2014
- "Sam Neill". Enough Rope with Andrew Denton. Australia. 7 June 2004. ABC. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
- Erika Grams. "Sam Neill – FAQ". Ibiblio.org. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
- "Nigel, Neville??". Lexigame.com. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
- For Your Consideration: Sam Neill for the FANGORIA Hall of Fame!, Fangoria.com, 11 January 2015.
- "A Cry in the Dark (1988) – Release dates". IMDb.com. Retrieved 14 June 2012.
- Pam Brown. The West. "A glorious romp through history", 5 February 2008. Archived 12 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
- Adam Dawtrey (11 April 2012). "Aneurin Barnard tapped for 'Mariah Mundi'". Variety article. Retrieved 30 July 2012.
- Catherall, Sarah (28 March 2018). "Lisa Harrow reflects on the pivotal moments in her colourful career". The New Zealand Listener.
- "Sam Neill – Family & Companions". yahoo.com. 10 January 1991. Retrieved 22 July 2010.
- Wilson, Fiona (2014-10-11). "What I've learnt: Sam Neill". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2017-09-24.
- Robin, Myriam (4 February 2018). "Actor Sam Neill and AFR political editor Laura Tingle start dating". The Australian Financial Review. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- "Sam Neill's Twitter romance gets 'serious'". Spy website, The New Zealand Herald. Auckland. 6 February 2018. Retrieved 13 February 2018.
- Scott, Cathy. "Two Paddocks: Our Story".
- "Let's take a moment to appreciate Sam Neill's beautiful, perfect, pig-filled Twitter account".
- "Meet Taika, the latest Sam Neill's farm animal with a famous name". Stuff. 4 May 2017. Retrieved 20 February 2018.
- "Sam Neil's Oamaru Speech".
- "No. 52564". The London Gazette (Supplement). 14 June 1991. p. 30.
- "Sir 'just far too grand' for Neill". Otago Daily Times. 1 August 2009. Retrieved 1 August 2009.
- "Honorary Graduates" (PDF). University of Canterbury. 2014. p. 2. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2015.