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 in school drama productions.
He acquired his nickname, Sam, to avoid being victimized at school, and encouraged it's use. He uses the nickname today as his stage name. After college, he toured for a year in a minibus with the Players Drama Quartet, then later worked with the New Zealand National Film Unit in Wellington directing documentaries. This led to his first lead role in Sleeping Dogs, the first New Zealand film to be released in the U.S. After winning the lead in My Brilliant Career, he moved to Australia, and a long line of feature films followed.
In 1981, he received a call from British actor James Mason, urging him to come to England. Mason recommended him for the lead role in The Final Conflict: Omen III. This was Neill's first American production, which was filmed in London. His relationship with costar Lisa Harrow produced a son, Tim. During this time, he was considered to replace Roger Moore in the James Bond films. Instead, he returned to Australia, and continued his successful film career.
In 1989, Neill married make-up artist Noriko Watanabe. Each brought a child into the marriage, Neill's son Tim and Watanabe's daughter Maiko, and they also have a daughter together named Elena. The family resides in Sydney, Australia, although they also have a residence in Otago, and vineyards near Queenstown on the South Island of New Zealand. The vineyard sells Pinot Noir under the registered trademark of Two Paddocks. Son, Tim, divides his time between his parents.
His great-great grandfather aided in burning down the White House during the War of 1812.
Neill retains both his New Zealand citizenship and his British citizenship, by virtue of his birth in Northern Ireland.
**(Information acquired from various sources, including the Official Sam Neill site, authored by Erika Grams, various television interviews, and IMDb.)