Sam Neill

Sam Neill


9/14/1947, Omagh, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, U.K.

Birth Name

Nigel Neill



Also Known As

John Dermot, Sam Neil
  • Sam Neill on Alcatraz from \
  • Sam Neill on Alcatraz from \
  • Sam Neill on Alcatraz.
  • Sam Neill in Happy Town.
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Sam Neill was born to New Zealand Army parents, Dermot and Priscilla Neill, while they were stationed in Northern Ireland. He has an older brother and a younger sister. The family returned to New Zealand in 1954, where he attended boarding school at Christchurch's Christ College, and participated…more


Trivia and Quotes

  • Trivia

    • Sam played the title role in the 1998 TV mini-series Merlin. He reprised the role in Merlin's Apprentice.

    • In 1998 Sam was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie for Merlin.

    • Sam wrote, directed and edited the movies "Four Shorts on Architecture" and "Telephone Etiquette".

    • Sam's first movie was the New Zealand film "Sleeping Dogs".

    • Sam received a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature degree at Victoria College in Wellington, New Zealand.

    • Sam's first name is Nigel, he adopted the nick name 'Sam' while in school in New Zealand because phrases "a real Nigel" and "Nigel No-mates" were used to describe a sad loner.

    • Sam attended the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival to promote his movie "Skin".

    • Sam Neill read "On the Beach" by Nevil Shute for the Audiocassette.

    • In 1999 Sam was nominated for a Blockbuster Entertainment Award Favorite Supporting Actor - Drama/Romance for The Horse Whisperer.

    • Sam is a fan of The Beach Boys.

    • Sam was the director and a producer of the Australian movie "The Brush-Off".

    • Sam did a TV commercial for MCI in 1998.

    • Sam's father, Dermot Neil, was a New Zealand army officer. His mother's name is Priscilla.

    • Sam was considered to be the 4th and 5th actor to play James Bond. The role ended up going Timothy Dalton and Pierce Brosnan, respectively.

    • Sam married Noriko Watanabe on September 2, 1989. They meet on the set of "Dead Calm". The couple has a daughter, Elana. Noriko has a daughter, Maiko, from her first marriage. Sam also had a son, Tim, from a previous relationship with actress Lisa Harrow (they never married).

    • Sam has twice been nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor, in 1993 for "Memoirs of an Invisible Man" in 2006 for "The Triangle".

    • The first vintage in 1997 of Sam's Two Paddocks Pinot Noir from his New Zealand vineyard was so popular domestically that none was left over for export.

    • Sam supports the Australian Labor Party, Greenpeace, OxFam, and the World Wildlife Fund. He is a patron of the National Performance Conference. He also donated a pair of jeans to the Jeans for Genes auction. They were painted by artist Merv Moriarty and auctioned off in August 1998.

    • Architecture is one of Sam passions.
      In his free time he likes to paint with water colours and play the ukelele.

    • Sam Neill has a Vineyard called Two Paddocks. As of 2007 the produce Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc and Riesling.

    • Sam has been nominated 5 times for an Australian Film Institue Award in various categorys.

      1991 for Death In Brunswick (Best Actor in a Lead Role)
      1993 for The Piano (Best Actor in a Supporting Role)
      2000 for My Mother Frank (Best Performance by an an Actor in a Supporting Role)
      2004 for Jessica (Best Actor in a Leading Role in a Television Drama or Comedy)
      2004 for The Brush Off (Best Direction in Television)

    • Sam won an Australian Film Institute Award in 1989 for his role in A Cry In The Dark.

    • Sam has been nominated 3 times for a Golden Globe. All were for the category: Best Performance by an Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TV.

      In 1983 for Reilly: The Ace Of Spies
      In 1991 for One Against The Wind
      In 1998 for Merlin

    • Sam Neill height is 6' (1.83 m) tall.

    • As of 2006, Sam Neill is appearing in an Australian television commercial funded by the livestock industry. "Red meat - we were meant to eat it."

    • Sam hosted and narrated a series of 2002 documentaries for the BBC entitled Space (Hyperspace in the United States).

    • Sam was asked to play the role of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson but turned it down because of other contractual obligations.

    • Sam studied English Literature at the University of Canterbury, where he got his first exposure to acting.

    • Sam was considered for the role of Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2. His wife ended up as the principal make-up & hair stylist for Kirsten Dunst in the movie.

    • Sam Neill is one of the three founders of Huntaway Films, along with John Clarke and Jay Cassells.

  • Quotes

    • Sam Neill: 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. 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 awhile.

    • Sam Neill: I enjoy being a winemaker of sorts, even if my choice of wine means cultivating a very tricky and elusive grape. More and more of my friends at home and on film locations are after the Two Paddocks label, so I need this third vineyard. But I really do enjoy the commitment away from my real job, the one that pays all the bills - it's good for your soul to balance your work and life.

    • Sam Neill: (on kissing Hugo Weaving in the movie Little Fish) Kissing blokes is deeply unappealing. A bit like kissing an alsatian's arse. Horribly hairy. It gives me a new respect for women.

    • Sam Neill: (talking about his animals) I have very attractive black-faced sheep. (Interviewer: Do they make chops?) No. They make other sheep. I have one ram called Bryan Brown, after my friend the Australian actor. They have similar interests. I have a goat but he can't bear the sheep. He's a racist. He feels they are unspeakably below him. I need to get a goat whisperer. Maybe from Wales.

    • Sam Neill: (talking about meeting Druids while filming Merlin in Wales) A young couple with no shoes came to my hotel with all sorts of interesting observations about the old religion. They gave me a crystal. I've never believed in crystals. I've always been cynical and jaded but I got them to sew it into my costume. Day one chasing around Snowdonia on horses, the crystal was gone. I was devastated. A hundred people were searching for the crystal in 500 acres of national park. There's no way we're going to find it. 'Please stop,' I said. I put my head into my hands and looked down and in the grass between my feet was the crystal, and now I'm never without it. It's always in my roly-poly bag.

    • Sam Neill: (when complimented on The Piano) It was very hard to do that movie, chopping off your wife's finger in a rainstorm in the mud. Could have a bad effect on you. Holly Hunter was such a firebrand. She fought back like buggery. After three takes I was absolutely exhausted.

    • Sam Neill: The pathetic thing about actors is they don't feel valid unless they're acting.

    • Sam Neill: If all I did was acting, I'd go out of my mind.