If you’ve followed Sam Neill’s career or even just his antics on social media, then you know he’s quite the Renaissance man. In New Zealand, where he resides, Neill grows grapes for his winery, Two Paddocks, and has a farm filled with celebrity named critters. He’s a writer and director of documentaries. And an outspoken humanitarian backing many environmental causes in New Zealand and Australia. But it’s most likely that you know him for his 50-year acting career where he’s racked up more than 140 roles in television and film. His career has touched everything from Academy Award winning period dramas like The Piano (1993) to voicing a character on Rick and Morty (2019). But a large chunk of his C.V. is comprised of sci-fi, fantasy and horror projects that have gone on to become genre classics. In fact, his first international film role was the grown-up Damien in The Omen III (aka The Final Conflict) (1981) and since then he’s never looked back.
“I’ve always enjoyed jumping genres, you know,” Neill tells SYFY WIRE in a call from Australia. “I’d hate to be stuck in one thing. And a lot of the sci-fi stuff I’ve done over the years has given me great pleasure. Actually the first time I met Colin Trevorrow was at the Sitges Film Festival, which is dedicated to fantasy and horror. They gave me a Lifetime Award which was very nice. And then Colin took me out for lunch, where he persuaded me that he wanted me and Jeff (Goldblum) and Laura (Dern) in [Jurassic World Dominion] for significant roles.”
Dominion finally reunites all three of the Jurassic Park lead actors together for the first time in the franchise sequel since the original 1993 movie. Perhaps for the last time, Neill gets to slip into Dr. Alan Grant’s signature hat and boots (fun fact: he actually kept his boots from the first movie) and put a button on his character’s story. In getting to play one more significant arc, especially alongside Dern, the actor admits it was all or nothing this time around. “I wasn’t interested in coming back if it was a cough-and-a-spit in a cameo,” he laughs.
In our conversation, SYFY WIRE asked if he was game to do a proverbial walk down memory lane for just a few of his memorable genre roles. Initially, his reaction was pragmatic, saying candidly, “I actually never look back. I just generally take other people’s word for it.” But when he mused on just how many genre roles he’s played, Neill gave it a go.