Who - July 29, 2002

 

 

The Grill
with Sam Neill

In the new crime-caper film Dirty Deeds, Sam Neill is a crooked cop on the take from a Sydney pokie baron played by real-life mate Bryan Brown. Kiwi Neill, 54, came clean to Julietta Jameson.

 

We've seen you in Jurassic Park III, The Dish and Dirty Deeds in a short period. Are you the busiest man in showbiz?

I wish. But I've always said, "You can never work an actor too hard." Most of the time we just sit around in comfortable chairs dissing other actors, or trying to get our tiny heads around a crossword.

 

Had you worked with Bryan before?

Yes, we worked on The Umbrella Woman... But we've been friends for 25 years or something ridiculous.

 

The two of you had giggle fits doing Dirty Deeds scenes together.

I find Bryan an endless source of amusement. [Long pause] I say that cryptically. [Wicked laugh]

 

The Dish and Dirty Deeds are both set in the Swinging '60s.

Yes, but Dirty Deeds was the first time I've worn a pork-pie hat in a film and the first, and probably last, time that I've got to use the F-word.

 

It seems you're a G-rated guy, then, except for those spooky Omen movies.

Yes, you can safely turn me on at 7.30 and I won't cause offence. Except in this film-there were no holds barred, as far as I could tell.

 

Where were you in 1969, the year in which Dirty Deeds was set?

I was a callow student.

 

Not wearing pork-pie hats then ...

No, certainly not. [Laughs] But I remember my father had one.

 

You in that pork-pie hat-it reminded me of Alwyn Kurts in that great old Australian TV drama Homicide.

Well, there are certain wardrobe similarities. Those drab suits, the narrow ties.

 

You've been vocal recently about genetic modification of food in New Zealand.

I feel that we are being rushed into something. No-one's been able to prove to me that releasing genetically modified organisms into the environment is 100 per cent safe. And it's clear that very few people want to eat potatoes that are part toad or tomatoes that are part fish. Why grow stuff people don't want to eat?

 

You're a winemaker in New Zealand. Your Two Paddocks pinot noir can be bought at the Ivy restaurant in London for 60 quid.

Oh, my God. That's rather a lot of money, isn't it? But then again, it's a rather wonderful wine.

 

How is the wine-making going? I read you had a frost.

That's the thing about growing wine. Every season is an adventure. One thing we have a lot of in New Zealand is weather and everything and anything can happen. We have frosts and floods, you name it, but that makes it interesting. We're about to start our seventh vintage and it's been much more rewarding than I could have imagined.

 

In Perfect Strangers, the movie you're working on with Rachael Blake, you playa dead guy with whom she falls in love. It sounds like Weekend at Bernie's meets Misery.

[Much guffawing] I would say, in all fairness, it's quite not like anything you've seen before.

 

Are you playing a dead guy? Yes or no.

I may or may not be dead at some point or another.

 

Kevin Costner played a corpse in The Big Chill and ended up on the cutting room floor.

Well, I'm part producer on this film so they can't just shred me at will. Plus, if they cut me out, it would be a rather short film. I'm in virtually every scene.

 

 

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