New Zealand actor Sam Neill has given fans an update after it was revealed yesterday he had been diagnosed with stage-three blood cancer.
The Jurassic Park veteran posted a video on Instagram, revealing he has been in remission for eight months, and to share details about his upcoming memoirs, which he wrote during his cancer treatment.
He said, “I’m alive and kicking and I’m going to work and I’m very happy to be going back to work.
“We start filming in seven days’ time. I’m doing a thing called Apples Never Fall [with] Anette Bening and a really wonderful cast. Here I am, and I wish the headline wasn’t that thing because the main thing is that I have written this book, it’s called Did I Ever Tell You This?. And it does mention cancer because that’s the sort of context in which I wrote it.
“But I didn’t really mean to write a book, I needed something to do while I was undergoing treatment, and I am used to going to work and I suddenly couldn’t go to work. So that’s why I wrote the book, and I have to say there’s been great response to it. People seem to love it, which is great.
“I was very nervous, obviously as a first time author. Anyway, I think it’s fun. We subtitled it Movies, Life, Love and Other Catastrophes. So it gives you an idea of all the crazy things that have happened to me. The tone of the book is one of surprise. I never thought that I would have a career as an actor, let alone an actor on screen.
“But that’s kind of what happened and I am full of gratitude looking back on this life, and that’s what the book is about. I hope you enjoy it. I enjoyed reading the audiobook the other day.
“I hadn’t looked at the book for quite a while but I found it more entertaining than I expected. And I would look through the glass window at the audio engineer/producer and he seemed to be cracking up a lot so I take that as a good sign.
“So I hope you enjoy it, and let’s not worry too much about ‘all that’ because I’m fine. OK!”
Neill’s diagnosis was first reported by The Guardian which revealed that the opening chapter of his book contained the line, “The thing is, I’m crook. Possibly dying. I may have to speed this up.”
During the publicity tour for Jurassic Park the actor discovered a lump and was quickly diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma – a fairly uncommon blood cancer.
The BBC reported that the 75-year-old actor revealed that he only decided to write a book after being given the bad news by a doctor.
“I thought I need to do something, and I thought, ‘Shall I start writing?’ I didn’t think I had a book in me, I just thought I’d write some stories. And I found it increasingly engrossing,” he said.
Neill was so engrossed that he finished the memoir relatively quickly, joking: “I suspect my publishers, they’re delightful people, but I think they wanted to get it out in a hurry just in case I kicked the bucket before it was time to release the thing.”
To treat the disease he tried chemotherapy but when that wasn’t as responsive as he hoped, he started a different and newer chemotherapy drug that has worked and he will stay on indefinitely.
The seasoned actor told BBC that he hopes his cancer diagnosis doesn’t outshine his memoir. “The last thing I want is for people to obsess about the cancer thing because I’m not really interested in cancer. I’m m not really interested in anything other than living.”
Neill has always been fairly private about his personal life but he was most recently linked to Australian political journalist Laura Tingle, and has two children from previous relationships.
Neill, who was born in the UK, raised in New Zealand and beloved by fans in Australia, is most famous for his role in Jurassic Park and he has been a staple in Australian cinema and television for more than fifty years.
He has been in everything from the Academy Award-winning film The Piano to most recently starring in Foxtel’s series The Twelve that also featured Kate Mulvany.
In the 1980s, Neill was rumoured to be one of the frontrunners in line to suceed Roger Moore in the role of James Bond. Ultimately the role went to Timothy Dalton.