Famous birthdays: On this day
14/09/1947 - present, 70 years old.
"When I left university, I was working for a documentary film company for six or seven years to the great relief of my father whose greatest waking fear was that I would become an actor."
1947: Nigel John Dermot Neill DCNZM known professionally as Sam Neill was born in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, to Priscilla Beatrice (née Ingham) and Dermot Neill. Named Nigel at birth, he adopted the name Sam to avoid confusion with other students named Nigel. His father, an army officer, was a third-generation New Zealander, while his mother was born in England. His father's family owned Neill and Co., the largest liquor retailers in New Zealand.
1954: Neill returned with his family to New Zealand, where he attended the Anglican boys' boarding school Christ's College in Christchurch. He stuttered as a child but went on to study English literature at the University of Canterbury, where he had his first exposure to acting.
1977: After working at the New Zealand National Film Unit as a director, Neill was cast for the lead role in New Zealand film Sleeping Dogs.
1979: He appeared in Australian romance My Brilliant Career, opposite Judy Davis.
1983: Starred in Reilly, Ace of Spies as Sidney Reilly. His son with Actress Lisa Harrow is born in Sydney, his name is Tim Neill.
1987: An early American starring role was in Amerika, playing a senior KGB officer leading the occupation and division of a defeated United States.
1989: His leading and co-starring roles in films include thriller Dead Calm, two-part historical epic La Révolution française as Marquis de Lafayette. He married makeup artist Noriko Watanabe and they have one daughter, Elena (born in 1991). He also has a stepdaughter, Maiko Spencer (born 1982) from Noriko's first marriage.
1990: Starred in The Hunt for Red October and Death in Brunswick.
1991: He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his work as an actor.
1993: Neill co-starred with Anne Archer in Question of Faith and also in Jurassic Park and The Piano.
1994: Starred in Sirens and The Jungle Book.
1995: John Carpenter's In the Mouth of Madness and documentary Cinema of Unease: A Personal Journey by Sam Neill.
1997-1998: He portrayed the legendary wizard in Merlin, a miniseries based on the legends of King Arthur.
1999-2000: Bicentennial Man, The Dish and he provided the voice of Sam Sawnoff in The Magic Pudding.
2001: Hosted and narrated a documentary series for the BBC entitled Space (Hyperspace in the United States).
2003-2004: On the Australian talk show Enough Rope, interviewer Andrew Denton briefly touched on the issue of Neill's "very bad" stuttering. It affected most of his childhood and as a result he was "hoping that people wouldn't talk to [him]" so he would not have to answer back. Starred in Perfect Strangers.
2006-2009: He reprised his role as Merlin in the sequel, Merlin's Apprentice and Under the Mountain.
2012: He acted in the short-lived Fox TV series Alcatraz as Emerson Hauser.
2014: He played the role of Otto Luger in the fantasy adventure movie The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box.
2015: In the BBC TV miniseries And Then There Were None, based on Agatha Christie's thriller, he played the role of General MacArthur.
2016: He starred in the New Zealand-made film, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, directed by Taika Waititi, as well as the ITV miniseries Tutankhamun.
2017: Thor: Ragnarok in post-production, The Commuter in post-production, MindGamers and Sweet Country.
2018: Peter Rabbit Old Mr McGregor, currently filming.
He founded a winery in New Zealand called Two Paddocks Winery made up of a vineyard at Gibbston and two near Alexandra, all in the Central Otago region of New Zealand's South Island. He lives in Queenstown, New Zealand.