Nigel John Dermot "Sam" Neill, DCNZM, OBE (born 14 September 1947) is a New Zealand actor.
He is perhaps best 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, Lord Friedrich Hoffman in Snow White: A Tale of Terror, 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 Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, the second son of Dermot Neill, a Harrow- and Sandhurst-educated army officer and third-generation New Zealander, 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.
Neill returned with his family to New Zealand in 1954 where he attended the Anglican boys' boarding school Christ's College in Christchurch. He then went on to study English literature at the University of Canterbury where he had his first exposure to acting. While at Canterbury University he resided at College House where he held the position of Chief Castigator and Crime Crusher (CCACC). He then moved to Wellington to continue his tertiary education at Victoria University from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.
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), In the Mouth of Madness (1995), Event Horizon (1997), The Dish (2000) and Jurassic Park III (2001).
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 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.
Sleeping Dogs (1977)
My Brilliant Career (1979)
Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981)
Attack Force Z (1982)
Blood of Others (1984)
Robbery Under Arms (1985)
For Love Alone (1986)
The Good Wife (1987)
A Cry in the Dark (1988)
Dead Calm (1989)
La Révolution française (1989)
The Hunt for Red October (1990)
Death in Brunswick (1991)
Until the End of the World (1991)
Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992)
The Rainbow Warrior (1992)
The Piano (1993)
Question of Faith (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Country Life (1994)
Rudyard Kipling's The Jungle Book (1994)
Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill (1995)
In the Mouth of Madness (1995)
Children of the Revolution (1996)
Event Horizon (1997)
Snow White: A Tale of Terror (1997)
Sweet Revenge (1998)
The Horse Whisperer (1998)
Bicentennial Man (1999)
The Dish (2000)
My Mother Frank (2000)
Sally Hemmings: An American Scandal (2000)
Jurassic Park III (2001)
The Zookeeper (2001)
Dirty Deeds (2002)
Perfect Strangers (2003)
Little Fish (2005)
Dean Spanley (2008)
Iron Road (2008)
I Am You (aka In Her Skin) (2009)
Under The Mountain (2009)
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole (voice only) (2010)
The Vow (2012)
A View from the Bridge