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Sam Neill

Sam Neill (born Nigel John Dermot Neill), DCNZM, OBE (born 14 September 1947) is a New Zealand film and television actor, and owner of the Two Paddocks winery in Central Otago. He is most widely known for playing paleontologist Doctor Alan Grant in Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III.
Born in Omagh, Northern Ireland, he was the second son of Dermot, a Harrow and Sandhurst-educated army officer and third generation New Zealander (who was then stationed in Northern Ireland), and his English wife, Priscilla. The family were the owners of Neill and Co., the largest liquor retailers in New Zealand. Neill returned with his family to New Zealand in 1954, where he attended the Anglican boys' boarding school Christ's College, in Christchurch. He then went on to study English literature at the University of Canterbury, where he got his first exposure to acting. While at Canterbury University he resided at College House , where he held the position of Chief Castigator and Crime Crusher (CCACC). He then moved to Wellington to continue his tertiary education at the Victoria University, from which he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature. He has one son, Tim (born in 1983), by New Zealand actress Lisa Harrow, and one daughter, Elena (born in 1990), by makeup artist Noriko Watanabe, whom he married in 1989.


After working at the New Zealand National Film Unit as a director and actor, Neill was cast as the lead in the New Zealand film Sleeping Dogs. Following this he appeared in the Australian classic, My Brilliant Career (1979), opposite Judy Davis. This appearance led to his being selected to play Damien in Omen III: The Final Conflict in 1981, one of the sequels to The Omen. In the late-1970s his mentor was the notable British actor James Mason.
After Roger Moore made his last James Bond movie in 1985, Neill was seriously considered for the role in The Living Daylights. He impressed people with his screen test and was the preferred choice of director John Glen. However, Cubby Broccoli was not as impressed by Neill, and the role eventually went to Timothy Dalton instead. Since then, Neill has played heroes and villains in a succession of film and television dramas and comedies. In the UK, he became well-known in the early-1980s, starring in dramas such as Ivanhoe and notably in the title role of Reilly, Ace of Spies. Neill is best known for his leading and co-starring roles in major (mainly U.S.-funded) films including Dead Calm (1989), The Hunt for Red October (1990), The Piano (1993), Sirens (1994), Jurassic Park (1993), Event Horizon (1997), The Dish (2000) and Jurassic Park III (2001).
The film Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill (1995) was written and directed by Sam Neill and Judy Rymer. In it Neill narrated his personal recollection of New Zealand film history. Neill was asked to play the role of Elrond in The Lord of the Rings by Peter Jackson, but turned it down because of his contractual obligations to another film, namely, Jurassic Park III (2001). He hosted and narrated a series of 2002 documentaries for BBC entitled Space (Hyperspace in the United States). Neill is expected to reprise his role as Paleontologist Alan Grant in the possible 2008 film Jurassic Park IV.
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