New Zealand Women's Weekly - August 9, 1993




Jurassic Park's Sam Neill admits to being lazy and lacking self-discipline.


SOME actors may think twice about sharing the billing with two children, a goat and a six-metre high Tyrannosaurus rex. But, as Sam Neill points out, when the director is Steven Spielberg and the film is the monster movie Jurassic Park, it's foolish to turn down the part just because of the adage about never working with animals and children.

"When someone like Steven asks you to be in his film, the reaction's pretty automatic," says Sam, who jumped at the chance to play fossil expert Dr Albert Grant. He was happy to share the limelight not only with a herd of alarmingly life-like model dinosaurs, but also with nine-year-old Joey Mazzello and Ariana Richards (12).

"You do hear some awful stories about child stars," admits Sam, who has a 10-year-old son, Timothy, by actress Lisa Harrow, and a baby daughter with his wife Noriko. "But the ones on this film were very nice and we had a good time together."

Despite the hype surrounding the film, its huge impact took even the actors by surprise. "The cast has been overwhelmed by the film's success," says Sam.

Steven Spielberg needed all his persuasive charm to help Sam overcome his fear of heights during the filming of one key scene in the movie.

"I was supposed to look scared about climbing the tree - and I wasn't just acting," Sam recalls. "It was wet, dark and slippery, and I was really afraid of falling."

While he has climbed to dizzy heights in his career, Sam - who was christened Nigel Neill when he was born in Ulster and then moved to New Zealand with his family - says he lacks drive and ambition.

"I'm quite lazy. I have no self-discipline or motivation," he smiles, sheepishly. "I'm not sure I have any major ambitions as an actor. I'm as famous now as I want to be. I really don't want to become a bigger name."

For someone who claims to be such an unambitious lazybones, he's been pretty busy of late.

He stars in The Piano, which won the Palme D'Or, The Sinking of the Rainbow Warrior, Family Pictures with Anjelica Huston, and the Australian film Sirens, which features Elle Macpherson, minus her clothes. As if that isn't enough, there's already talk of a sequel to Jurassic Park. The actors have been asked to sign contracts agreeing to make themselves available for at least two more follow-up films.

"I feel I'm working to capacity and I'm enjoying it," smiles Sam (45). "Luckily, I really love my job, the money and the travel that goes with it."

His dark, striking good looks have featured in 22 film roles so far, including My Brilliant Career, Dead Calm and The Omen III. Yet he dismisses his appearance, saying, "I'm just an average sort of guy; average face, average height, nothing special to look at."

As self-deprecating remarks go, this is one which is just crying out to be contradicted by Sam's vast horde of female fans.





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