For actor Sam Neill 1991 has already been an exciting time.
He has a new baby and he has moved into a new house in Beverly
"It's our intention to live in America for two years at
least," says the versatile New Zealand star, best known for his role as
Michael Chamberlain in Evil Angels, playing opposite Meryl Streep, and TV
series such as Reilly, Ace Of Spies, Amerika, and Kane And Abel.
''I've always liked being in Hollywood,"
Sam says. "I know a lot more people and I'm more comfortable living here.
It doesn't seem as alarmingly alien as it used to be."
Sam, born in Northern Ireland,
has homes in New Zealand
and Sydney. He is currently
shooting the romantic thriller Fever, opposite Armand Assante and Marcia Gay
Harden, star of the recently released Miller's Crossing.
In 1989 he married Japanese actress Noriko Watanabe and they
had their first child, Elena, in late January.
The taciturn 43-year-old Sam got his career break in
Margaret Fink's My Brilliant Career, and established himself as an
international leading man. He has a son Henry, 7, who lives with his mother, New
Zealand actress Lisa Harrow, in Britain.
Noriko has a daughter from a previous marriage.
Relaxing in his dressing-room, Sam says: "I got married
in 1989 . . . it seemed like a good idea at the time. And it still seems like a
good idea. We've been together for three years."
In 1989 he played Sean Connery's faithful Soviet submarine
second-in-command in the box office hit The Hunt For Red October. He also
received good reviews for his role in the Phillip Noyce-directed thriller Dead
Calm, opposite Nicole Kidman.
In Melbourne he
made Death In Brunswick, a low-budget, quirky black comedy for director John
Ruane opposite Greek actress Zoe Carides and (fellow Kiwi) John Clarke.
"I play a short-order cook in the story set in the
working-class area of Melbourne
which is full of immigrants, drug dealers and ne'er-do-wells," he says.
"My character, a hapless innocent named Carl Fitzgerald, is surrounded by
corruption. He murders someone by mistake and also falls in love with a Greek
girl very much his junior."
He is very keen about that film, calling it "part of a
new wave of lower-budget, 'offbeat pictures which are being made in Australia".
On the opposite end of the spectrum are two other big budget
films he has also finished. There's the $50-million mini-series about the
French Revolution which took him all over the world.
"I played Lafayette
and spent a lot of time riding around on a white horse. It was great fun,"
Sam says. "But I don't know what's happened to the film. It hasn't come
Then there's Until The End Of The World, another big-budget
"I spent most of the year going around the world on
that film," Sam says. "For 21 weeks we went from France to Portugal, to
America and Australia."
The movie co-stars William Hurt; Max Von Sydow and Jeanne
Moreau. "It's part science fiction set in the future, part road movie and
part apocalyptic vision," he says.
The film, which cost more than $30 million, was made with
Australian, Japanese and American money. The screenplay was by German director Wim
Wenders and Australian novelist Peter Carey.
Now Sam is looking at work in Hollywood
- and job offers in England.
His role in Fever enabled him to stay close to his wife in the weeks before the
"I play this lawyer who is a nice guy - he's so nice
you wanna kick him."
The move to California,
he insists, is not a carefully designed career strategy.
''I've never been able to plan a damn thing. I find it
difficult to organise a shopping trip. But it seems to make sense.
is my home, but Hollywood is where
the work is. I'd like to try a comedy film next, with a light Cary Grant touch. And I haven't played a
decent bad guy lately."
He laughs. "It's about time I got to play a really