Actor Sam Neill, back for another thrill ride in the third
part of Steven Spielberg's Jurassic Park saga,
makes a rather startling admission about his brilliant career.
"I have never been a movie star. I am a good working
actor and I am never out of work, which gives me satisfaction. But I am not a
movie star," he said in Los Angeles
on the eve of the world premiere of JP3.
"And for that I am grateful. It is not fun being a movie
star." Neill, 53, born in Ireland
and raised in New Zealand,
is being modest.
Few actors have anywhere near his resume, which includes My Brilliant Career (1979) with Judy
Davis, A Cry in the Dark (1988) with
Meryl Streep, The Piano (1993) with
Holly Hunter, Sirens (1994) with Elle
Macpherson, and The Horse Whisperer
(1998) with Kristin Scott Thomas.
Neill has been in films with major men as well - Robert
Redford, Sean Connery, Robin Williams, Robert Downey Jr, Hugh Grant, Billy
Zane. But he likes the love story.
"I do love stories from time to time. The Piano springs to mind. . I was
opposite that romantic hunk Harvey Keitel," he said, tongue firmly in
Neill's success with big-budget blockbusters has enabled him
to work on small, independent films throughout the world, including Australia,
where he made last year's local megabit, The
"I don't really have any conscious game plan about my movie
choices. I find it's better not to take your career too seriously.
"Be serious about your work, but don't be serious about
"I kind of ricochet from one project to another in a
rather shambolic manner. I do like to mix it up. The next thing I do will be as
different as I can possibly make it from the last one. And probably in a place
I haven't been before. . . that is a major consideration."
But, as the urbane Neill points out, we are at Universal
Studios, surrounded by dinosaurs, to discuss his role as Dr Alan Grant in
Jurassic Park 3.
starred in the original Spielberg dino-flick in 1993 but was not in the 1997
"I was not angry that I was not in the second movie. It
was clear I wasn't going to be in it because my character wasn't in the book. I
am sure (author) Michael Crichton bitterly regrets that now... I am kidding.
"Don't take anything I say seriously. It's just the way
we are in New Zealand."
Neill thanked his late father for "having the good
sense" to take the family back to New
Zealand when he was a seven-year-old boy.
"I am glad that he did because it is a very nice place
to grow up."
He joked with journalists about the fact that Australians
liked to claim him as their own, similar to Russell Crowe.
But back to Jurassic
Dr Grant, who vowed never to return to the dino-infested
island off Costa Rica,
is tricked into going back by a wealthy couple (Tea Leoni and William H. Macy)
in search of their son, who has been stranded there.
From the opening scene, it is a 90-minute terror-packed
encounter, but forget the storyline. And the dinosaurs are bigger, better and
badder than the previous two JP
The film makers wanted to give the tyrannosaurus rex, the
tyrant of the first two movies, a run for its money and introduced the larger,
even more vicious spinosaurus. It's a massive carnivore with the snout of a
crocodile, the biggest meateating dinosaur that ever lived.
The film features a savage battle between the spino and the
veteran T-rex,which has been reskinned for its third appearance in the series.
"Clearly things have progressed immensely since the
first one," says Neill. "These are much more sophisticated dinosaurs
than the ones I was working with first time around.
"That's not only because technology has advanced
enormously with computers, but also the animatronic world. We also know more
about dinosaurs than we used to. There have been great strides in paleontology.
"I think the dinosaurs are more three-dimensional than
they used to be. My particular satisfaction with this film is that the human
characters are more three-dimensional, too. I think it's the best of the
Neill's female fans will love his portrayal of the suave Dr
"Alan is not quite the wide-eyed innocent that he was
in the first film. He is more the reluctant action hero this time. It's less
'what a wonderful, marvellous, awesome place this is'. It's more 'let's get the
hell out of here'."
The film hadn't even hit theatres when there was talk of
another sequel. The ending of JP3
certainly leaves that option open.
"I would certainly be very happy to go back for a Part
4. But I think it would take tremendous ingenuity on the part of the
scriptwriters to get Alan Grant back. I can't think of any reason why the poor
old bugger would get back on that island again."
After JP3 he has two more films on the go: The Zookeeper, shot in the Balkans, and
another as-yet untitled movie in New Zealand
with director Gaylene Preston.
"I am about to go home to start another film. It is a
small, dark love story, just three characters, broody, moody New
Zealand thing, completely different from
this (JP3). We should start shooting
could easily be a New Zealand
film, except that it is set in the Balkans. It is not sweetness and light, this
love story, in fact it is a tad scary. It will be out some time this