Actor Sam Neill: ´I´m not afraid to die but it would annoy me´

Sam Neill/Shutterstock Images

New Zealand actor Sam Neill has revealed that he is being treated for stage-three blood cancer in a candid memoir to be released on Tuesday.

In an interview with the Guardian about his book, Did I Ever Tell You This?, the 75-year-old Jurassic Park star discusses his career in film and television, the nature of celebrity, life on his New Zealand farm, and mortality, having opened his book with a shock.

“The thing is, I’m crook. Possibly dying,” he writes in Chapter One, “I may have to speed this up.”

“I’m not afraid to die,” he says, “but it would annoy me. Because I’d really like another decade or two, you know? We’ve built all these lovely terraces, we’ve got these olive trees and cypresses, and I want to be around to see it all mature. And I’ve got my lovely little grandchildren. I want to see them get big.

“But as for the dying? I couldn’t care less.”

Neill started writing vignettes from his life as a way to keep busy – and as a salve – while undergoing treatment last year.

“I found myself with nothing to do,” Neill said in the interview. “And I’m used to working. I love working. I love going to work. I love being with people every day and enjoying human company and friendship and all these things. And suddenly I was deprived of that. And I thought, ‘what am I going to do?’

“I never had any intention to write a book. But as I went on and kept writing, I realised it was actually sort of giving me a reason to live and I would go to bed thinking, ‘I’ll write about that tomorrow … that will entertain me.’ And so it was a lifesaver really, because I couldn’t have gone through that with nothing to do, you know.”

Neill first experienced swollen glands during publicity for Jurassic World Dominion in March last year and was soon diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. He received chemotherapy, but when that started to fail, he embarked on a new chemotherapy drug which he will continue to receive monthly for the rest of his life, although he is now cancer-free.

“I can’t pretend that the last year hasn’t had its dark moments,” he said. “But those dark moments throw the light into sharp relief, you know, and have made me grateful for every day and immensely grateful for all my friends. Just pleased to be alive.”

Neill, whose acting career began in the 1970s and is comprised of over 150 roles from My Brilliant Career to The Piano to Jurassic Park to Peaky Blinders, is currently in preparation to start filming on the television adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel Apples Never Fall, being filmed in Australia and co-starring Annette Bening.

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