Although he is still on air, weaving his romantic older-man
spell over the dreamy-eyed, teenage Kitty Sullivan, Neill has actually ended
his work on The Sullivans for the time being. He admits he wouldn't object to
being called back. He said: "There's no doubt at all in my mind. I'd love
another sequence in the show. I don't think I've enjoyed a job so much before,
both for the work and the cast.
"They are all dedicated to the show and they are all
The atmosphere in fact was so like a family that Neill had
to force himself to keep completely away from anything about The Sullivans at
"It was the only way to keep a perspective," he
said. "I kept right away from anything to do with the show over the
weekend to recharge for the next week.
"I don't do much at the weekend though. I have a few
beers and relax, and I've become an Aussie Rules fan. It's still a peculiar
game to me, being brought up on rugby, but' soon became hooked on the game.
"I don't follow any specific team, but I live in Richmond,
close to the MCG, so I just go along and watch whoever is playing there. I've
always had a feeling for the underdog, so I suppose the nearest thing I have to
a favourite team is St Kilda.
"I haven't travelled around the countryside as much as
I would want, maybe I'll have the time when I get back from New
Zealand next time."
Neill is taking a short holiday at home but will be back to
help promote My Brilliant Career. By then his face will be familiar through The
Sullivans, but he will still keep his privacy because of the length of time he
has been away from the show.
"My hair will have grown," he said. "I won't
have a World War II short back and sides any more, so people in the street
won't associate me with Ben."
Despite having chosen a career like acting, which relies on
public acceptance for success, Neill maintains that he does not seek stardom.
He said: "I know It's hard to understand, but I don't
want to be recognised in the streets. I'm not interested in that sort of fame.
I look on acting as a craft, one in which I want to improve constantly.
"Remember I am also a director and interested in the
techniques of production: To me acting is only part of the craft.
"I like to get totally involved in the medium and I do
love film; In fact; I sometimes feel guilty because I don't spend enough time
on the stage.
"I feel that it is necessary for any actor to do his
share of stage work, because it gets back to the basics, to the roots of
acting. After a long spell in film or TV I think an actor needs to get back to
The future for Sam Neill isn't clear at the moment, but he
has "several things in the wind."
He said: "I can't really say what I will be doing
except that, whatever it is, it will be in Australia."
Story: Eric Scott
Photos: Barrie Bell