In 1954, the Neill family returned to New Zealand and Sam attended Christ’s College in Christchurch, an Anglican boys’ boarding school. Later, he studied English Literature at the University of Canterbury. It was while at University that Neill became so interested in acting. It was only after he received his degree that he became a prolific actor and began his career.
Neill worked as a director and actor at the New Zealand National Film Unit, but was then cast the lead role in Sleeping Dogs. Shortly thereafter in 1979, Neill was cast in My Brilliant Career opposite Judy Davis. That film has become an Australian classic. His work in these two films influenced producers casting The Omen III: The Final Conflict in 1981, which also helped spark his worldwide career as an actor.
It is interesting to note that Sam Neill was actually considered for the role of James Bond in The Living Daylights which was the first Bond film after Roger Moore’s reign over the character for so long. Neill ultimately lost the role to Timothy Dalton, but has enjoyed plentiful roles since then. Neill may be best known for his role as Doctor Alan Grant, one the paleontologists in Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III. Neill has also starred in Dead Calm, The Hunt for Red October, The Piano, and Event Horizon.
Sam Neill has tried his hand at directing in more recent years, namely for a film called Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill, a 1995 documentary written and directed by Neill with Judy Rymer. This film is a personal outline of New Zealand film history. Neill also lends his voice to commercial work, mostly for Fifth Third Bank. Neill can be seen in commercials, on television, and in films all over the world.
At this point in his life, Sam Neill lives in Sydney, Australia, but travels all over the world for his work. He is married to Noriko Watanabe (since 1989), with whom he has a daughter, Elena (born in 1990). Neill also has a son, Tim (born in 1983), with previous girlfriend Lisa Harrow. Beyond acting and directing, Sam Neill is the owner of the Two Paddocks winery which is located in Central Otago.
Sam Neill may be one of the present day’s Renaissance men in that he not only acts but directs, produces, and owns a winery. Neill is a very talented actor who has been seen in everything from modern classic films to experimental documentaries, and even made-for-television movies. Neill has made his mark on the world and has made it clear he is here to stay. We should watch him eagerly to see what else Sam Neill has up his sleeve.