"I feel like I've been in something that is of a profound
and permanent place in cinema history," says Sam Neill "I really believe that."
Sorry, Steven. Sam Neill is not
talking about Jurassic Park.
He has five new films opening, he likes them all for different reasons, and the
one that he loves most, Jane Campion's Cannes festival winner The Piano, places him in the quite
unique position of starring in not only the year's biggest runaway box-office
success, but they year's top art movie as well.
This is the very best of Neill's 16 acting years. His career
- he scoffs at the word - has taken him from a university triumph as Macbeth
and directing documentaries on favourite subjects like architecture, ski-ing
and theatre.to being pushed into the big time by James Mason, who paid Neill's
way from down-under to an Elstree screentest. From acting all over the world - The Omen's third Damien and Reilly-Ace of Spies - to meeting Pope
John Paul II and working with such superstars as Meryl Streep and Isabelle
The New Zealander (born in Northern
Ireland in 1948) has more potential hits in
the can."I've been a little busy," he agrees.
Since completing the French-financed Piano last May in New Zealand,
he's played the Kiwi detective cracking the case of The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior - minus any French money! Plus: Family Pictures with Anjelica
Huston.succeeding William Hurt and Tim Robbins in Jurassic Park and when we met in Cannes
he'd just arrived from the Blue Mountains of Australia and John Duigan's
Sirens. Neill plays the painter Norman Lindsay - "a very good subject to pick,
given that his sole subject was women with very little if no clothing on. Good
Once the current Spielbergmania fades - just a tad - he's
off to Paris for Amber Man. With a double credit: Star
and script consultant.
You will, therefore, understand the frown on the familiar
Neill features, when I began:
OK, let's talk about
"Sure. Which one?"
In fact, how do you
psyche yourself up, regain the mood of a film made two three or more movies
ago? Check your script for notations, watch a cassette, examine your diary, ask
your wife for ideas?
Sometimes there's no time to think. You have to just get off the plane, walk
across the tarmac.and start work. I've not seen all of Jurassic Park yet, but it's not as full of
blood and gore as the book was. I did
see The Piano about two months ago
and it had an overwhelming emotional effect on me which I still can't quite get
to grips with. Just seeing the pain my
character goes through, the agony and ecstasy of it all, affected me very strongly. It's the kind of film I've always wanted to
do -like the love story that you've always fantasised about.
It's easy to imagine the familial intimacy of making The Piano, everybody's so keen you're
all helping to carry lights and cameras around - and then, what eight months
later you're in the middle of Spielbergia, a vastly different ball game.