HE'S been called "the thinking woman's sex-symbol"
and "every woman's fantasy".
With that sort of hype it's not hard to understand why Sam
Neill is a sought-after name.
The unabashed adulation he receives is something that
clearly has him bemused and, at times, embarrassed. In fact, during the
shooting of his latest movie, The Umbrella Woman, which opens nationally this
week, a female admirer trailed after him, openly declaring her infatuation.
It wasn't Lisa Harrow, the actress with whom he shares a
house in London and the mother of
his four-year-old son, but a happily married 35-year-old Queensland
artist, Davida Allen.
Davida, winner of the 1986 Archibald Prize, arrived on
location with her husband Michael and their young children and proceeded to
pursue the object of her publicly proclaimed passion.
The result of Davida's adoration is a series of erotic
paintings and drawings which have gone on display in the U.S.
Coincidentally, The Umbrella Woman is a film about a married
woman's unbridled passion and sexual obsession for a stranger.
The film stars husband and wife Bryan Brown and Rachel Ward
as Marge and Sonny Hills with Sam Neill as Neville Gifford - the stranger - a
charming and highly successful womaniser who becomes the object of Marge's
The Umbrella Woman's director Ken Cameron says he understands Sam was initially very
reluctant to take on the role of Neville.
"He might have been concerned that he would be
confronting some side of his personality he didn't like. I don't know what it
was. Actors are a mysterious lot.
"The character he plays is so treacherous with all
those women - and such a phoney. It was Jan Sharp (the producer) who talked him
into it - and I know he enjoyed doing the movie."
Sam, however, claims Neville is a wonderful character
because "he's not just a sleazebag but multi-layered".
He has some sympathy for Neville who, perhaps, like Sam,
attracts women, despite himself.