Jurassic Park actor Sam Neill says that retirement scares him more than dying. The 76-year-old New Zealand actor is in remission for stage-three blood cancer.
In an interview with ABC's Australian Story, Neill says that he doesn't comb the Internet looking for information on his non-Hodgkin blood cancer, angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. “I know I've got it, but I'm not really interested in it,” says Neill. “It's out of my control. If you can't control it, don't get into it.”
When Neill's chemotherapy treatment stopped working after three months, his doctors switched him to a rare anticancer drug. Neill's cancer has been in remission for 12 months but requires him to undergo infusions every two weeks. He says the treatments make him feel like he's gone 10 rounds with a boxer, “but it's keeping me alive.”
Doctors told Neill that, at some point, the treatment will stop working. Neill says he's “prepared for that” and is “not remotely afraid” of death. He says the thought of retirement, however, “fills me with horror.”
Sam Neill Is Happiest When He's Working
Neill's acting career spans more than five decades and includes roles in movies such as Omen III: The Final Conflict, A Cry in the Dark, Dead Calm, The Hunt for Red October, The Piano, In the Mouth of Madness, Jurassic Park (pictured), Jurassic Park III, and Jurassic World Dominion. Neill was filming the miniseries Apples Never Fall in Australia before the SAG-AFTRA strike shut down the production.
“I can't tell you how privileged I am to spend that amount of time with so many actors, so many of whom I've really enjoyed and so many of whom I've really admired,” says Neill.
Neill tells Australian Story that chemotherapy wore him down, leaving him unable to act or work on his vineyard in Central Otago, New Zealand. “I started to look at my life and realize how immensely grateful I am for so much of it,” Neill says. “I started to think I better write some of this down because I'm not sure how long I have to live. I was running against the clock.”
Neill kept writing and his book, Did I Ever Tell You This?, came together. “I don't pretend to be a writer,” says Neill, “but I am a conversationalist. I love chatting. Here are some stories that amuse me. You might like them, too.” Neill says that he wrote the book for his four children and eight grandchildren. “I thought it would be great for them to have some of my stories,” he says. “I might not be here in a month or two. We'll leave something for them.”
Sam Neill's unexpected memoir, Did I Ever Tell You This?, is available now.
Robert DeSalvo is a professional writer and editor with over 25 years of experience at print and online publications such as Movieline, Playboy, PCH, Fandango, and The A.V. Club. He currently lives in Los Angeles, the setting of his favorite movie, Blade Runner. Robert has interviewed dozens of actors, directors, authors, musicians, and other celebrities during his journalism career, including Brian De Palma, Nicolas Cage, Dustin Hoffman, John Waters, Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Anne Rice, and many more. Horror movies, sci-fi, cult films as well as gothic, postpunk, and synthwave music are what Robert geeks over.