Sam Neill Biography

(Actor, Director and Producer Known for His Role as ‘Dr. Alan Grant’ in ‘Jurassic Park’ Film Series)

Birthday: September 14, 1947 (Virgo)

Born In: Omagh, Northern Ireland

Sam Neill is a New Zealand actor, director, producer and writer who shot to international fame playing Dr Alan Grant in Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III. He is also a part of the next movie – Jurassic World: Dominion – in the series which is expected to be released in 2022. Sam began his acting career in New Zealand and gained recognition with the film Sleeping Dogs. He then moved to Australia and bagged the lead role in My Brilliant Career. Thereafter, he appeared in a series of movies like Omen III: The Final ConflictPossessionA Cry in the Dark and The Piano which brought him further fame. His film credits in subsequent years include The Dish, Sweet Country, Hunt For The Wilderpeople, The Daughter and The Hunter. Apart from films, the veteran actor has been a part of numerous television production including Reilly, Ace of Spies, Merlin, The Tudors and Peaky Blinders. Sam Neill has also narrated, directed, produced and written numerous documentaries. For his work in cinema and television, he was named Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1991 and a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2007.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Nigel John Dermot Neill

Age: 76 Years, 76 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Lisa Harrow (m. 1978–1989), Noriko Watanabe (m. 1989–2017)

father: Dermot Neill

mother: Priscilla Neill

children: Elena Neill, Tim Neill

Partner: Laura Tingle (2017–present)

Born Country: Northern Ireland

Actors New Zealand Men

Height: 6'0" (183 cm), 6'0" Males

Ancestry: English New Zealander

Notable Alumni: University Of Canterbury

Founder/Co-Founder: Two Paddocks

More Facts

education: University Of Canterbury, Victoria University Of Wellington

Childhood & Early Life

Sam Neill was born on 14th September 1947 in Omagh, Northern Ireland as Nigel John Dermot Neill. His father Dermot Neill, a New Zealander, was an army officer stationed in Northern Ireland. His mother, Priscilla Beatrice, was an English woman.

In 1954, when he was seven, his family moved to New Zealand where he went to Christ's College, a boarding school in Christchurch. It was in school, that he changed his name to Sam because there were many other students named Nigel there.

Growing up, Sam Neill never thought of making a career in films. Instead, he contemplated joining army. As a youngster, he also suffered from stammering issue.

After school, he joined the University of Canterbury and Victoria University to pursue studies in English Literature. At Canterbury, he first got into acting.

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Sam Neill began his career as a member of the New Zealand National Film Unit and spent seven years working on documentary films before fully committing himself to acting.

His first acting job was in the New Zealand television movie The City of No (1971) which was followed by a short film The Water Cycle (1972), another television movie Hunt’s Duffer (1973) and a film Landfall (1975). In 1974, he also acted in, wrote and directed a film Telephone Etiquette.

In 1977, he played the lead role in the drama action thriller film Sleeping Dogs which earned him recognition in New Zealand.

Thereafter, he moved to Australia and was signed as the male lead of the internationally successful period drama film My Brilliant Career (1979). The same year he began playing the guest role of Ben Dawson in a period drama series – The Sullivans.

In 1981, Sam Neill landed the role of Damien Thorn, the son of Devil, in the British-American supernatural horror film Omen III: The Final Conflict. The movie brought him international recognition. The same year, he also appeared in another psychological horror film Possession.

In 1983, Sam Neill earned further recognition and his first Golden Globe award nomination for playing the role of Sidney Reilly — one of the greatest real-life spies who worked for the British — in the miniseries, Reilly: Ace of Spies.

In 1987, Sam Neill appeared in the American action drama, fantasy miniseries Amerika playing the role of a senior KGB officer Colonel Andrei Denisov.

In 1988, he gave an award-winning performance in the Australian drama film Evil Angels (A Cry in the Dark) which was fictionalised version of the real life story of the couple who claimed that their infant daughter was kidnapped by a dingo. The following year, he acted in the psychological thriller horror film Dead Calm.

The beginning of 1990s saw him in the role of Captain Vasily Borodin in the American submarine spy thriller film The Hunt for Red October. It was one of highest grossing domestic films of the year.

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This was followed by a black comedy Death in Brunswick, a sci-fi road trip drama Until the End of the World (both 1991) and sci-fi- black comedy Memoirs of an Invisible Man (1992). The 1991 television movie One Against the Wind brought him yet another Golden Globe nomination.

In 1993, he received great international success portraying Dr Alan Grant in Steven Spielberg’s big budgeted sci-fi action film, Jurassic Park (he reprised his role in the 2001’s Jurassic Park III). The same year Jane Campion’s multiple award winning period drama film – The Piano – about a tale of forbidden love also earned him more recognition.

His other significant work in the 1990s include films In the Mouth of Madness (1994), The Horse Whisperer (1998), Bicentennial Man (1999) and the three part television miniseries Merlin (1998). In the latter, his portrayal of the title role won him appreciation. He reprised his role in 2006 sequel Merlin's Apprentice.

In 1995, he also wrote, directed and narrated a documentary Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill.

His notable films in the first decade of 2000 include My Mother Frank, The Dish (both 2000), The Zookeeper (2001), Dirty Deeds (2002), Perfect Strangers (2003), Yes, Wimbledon (both 2004), Little Fish (2005), Skin (2008) and Daybreakers (2009).

On television, he acted in the series Doctor Zhivago (2002) and Crusoe (2008–2010) as well as a miniseries To The Ends Of the Earth (2005) (1). He also won an award for his performance in miniseries Jessica (2004) and gave another solid performance in the historical series The Tudors (2007).

In 2010, he lent his voice to the computer animated fantasy adventure film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole and the following year once again won appreciation for his performance in the drama film The Hunter.

In 2012, he acted in the television series Alcatraz and the next year became a part of another series Peaky Blinders (2013-2014). His other work following these include television series Old School (2014) and miniseries House of Hancock, The Dovekeepers, And Then There Were None (all 2015), Tutankhamun (2016) and House of Bond (2017).

In 2016, he wrote and produced the documentary Why Anzac with Sam Neill and narrated another documentary New Zealand: Earth's Mythical Islands. In 2018, he once again produced a miniseries The Pacific: In the Wake of Captain Cook with Sam Neill.

He also narrated the documentaries Le Champion (2019), Sea Lions: Life by a Whisker (2020) and Lindy Chamberlain: The True Story (2020).

His success in films continued with movies like The Daughter (2015), Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016), Sweet Country (2017), Peter Rabbit (2018), Palm Beach (2019), Blackbird (2019) and Rams (2020).

In 2020, he produced and appeared as himself in a series of funny absurdist video short Cinema Quarantine series.

Family & Personal Life

Sam Neill has had two marriages. He has a son, Tim from his first marriage to actress Lisa Harrow (1980-1989) and a daughter, Elena, from his second marriage to make-up artist Noriko Watanabe (1989- separated in 2017).

He also has another son, Andrew, from a relationship in his twenties and a stepdaughter Maiko Spencer (Watanabe’s daughter from her previous marriage).

In 1993, Sam Neill established a wine producing company Two Paddocks in Central Otago, New Zealand. He owns four small organic vineyards which primarily produce pinot noir and a little bit of riesling. The products are sold in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.

Sam Neill Movies

1. Jurassic Park (1993)

  (Thriller, Sci-Fi, Adventure)

2. Telephone Etiquette (1974)


3. Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016)

  (Drama, Adventure, Comedy)

4. Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

  (Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi)

5. Possession (1981)

  (Drama, Horror)

6. My Brilliant Career (1979)

  (Romance, Drama, Biography)

7. The Hunt for Red October (1990)

  (Thriller, Action, Adventure)

8. La révolution française (1989)

  (Drama, War, Thriller, History)

9. The Piano (1993)

  (Romance, Drama, Music)

10. The Zookeeper (2001)

  (Drama, War)

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