Renowned actor Sam Neill has disclosed his battle with stage-three blood cancer in a forthcoming honest memoir, set to release on Tuesday.
In a conversation with the Guardian concerning his book, Did I Ever Tell You This?, the 75-year-old icon from Jurassic Park delves into his career in the film and television industry, celebrity’s essence, life on his farm in New Zealand, and facing mortality, as his book begins with a stunning revelation.
“The thing is, I’m crook. Possibly dying,” Neill confesses in the first chapter, “I may have to speed this up.”
Last year, Neill started penning life episodes to stay occupied and as a therapeutic activity while undergoing treatment.
“I found myself with nothing to do,” he shared during the interview. “I love working, going to work, and being with people daily, enjoying human company, friendship, and all these things. Suddenly, I was deprived of that, and I thought, ‘what am I going to do?’
“I never intended to write a book. However, as I continued writing, I realized it was giving me a reason to live. I would go to bed thinking, ‘I’ll write about that tomorrow… that will entertain me.’ It was a lifesaver, as I couldn’t have gone through that with nothing to do, you know.”
In Did I Ever Tell You This? – endorsed on its cover by celebrities like Meryl Streep, Laura Dern, and Stephen Fry – Neill demonstrates his exceptional storytelling abilities with a compilation of stories ranging from his early years in Ireland to growing up in New Zealand, peculiar family life, humorous coming-of-age tales, and amusing anecdotes from film sets over the years (co-stars behaving badly, beware).
He clarified that his book is not solely a cancer memoir but rather has his illness as a “spiral thread” woven throughout the narrative.
Neill first noticed swollen glands while promoting Jurassic World Dominion in March of the previous year, leading to his diagnosis of angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. After his initial chemotherapy began to fail, he started a new chemotherapy drug, which he will continue to receive monthly for the rest of his life. He is now cancer-free.
“I can’t pretend that the last year hasn’t had its dark moments,” he admitted. “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.”
With an acting career spanning over 150 roles since the 1970s, including My Brilliant Career, The Piano, Jurassic Park, and Peaky Blinders, Neill is currently preparing to start filming the TV adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel Apples Never Fall in Australia, co-starring Annette Bening.