Sam Neill Explains Why He Didn’t Get Explosive Stardom After ‘Jurassic Park’


Some films are so iconic, those involved in them become symbols of everything that movie stands for. Who can think of the exploits of Indiana Jones without seeing Harrison Ford? 1993 introduced audiences to the awe-inspiring Jurassic Park, plastering the faces of Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, and more across theater screens across the country.

However, Neill noted, he did not have the same rocket to mainstream fame as other action movie heroes did. He’s been dubbed an “international leading man” but not with the same associations Bruce Willis had after Die Hard. In his new memoir, Did I Ever Tell You This?, Neill explores why exactly this was the case.


Sam Neill keeps it real about the effect ‘Jurassic Park’ had on his career

Did I Ever Tell You This? memoir by Sam Neill / Amazon

“I owe so much to Spielberg and everyone involved,” says Neill in his memoir, which released on March 21, “but I don’t think the Jurassic series made any seismic shifts in my career.” He continued, “I didn’t become Mr. Action Hero or anything … Between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World Dominion, I went back to making films that interested me here and there, of varying quality.”


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To an extent, this outcome was also deliberate on Neill’s choice. He chooses what he wants to work on, forgoing any adherence to the image of a swashbuckling action protagonist. Couple that with his chameleon nature as an actor, and he can disappear into any subtle role he chooses.

What has Sam Neill been up to after ‘Jurassic Park?’

JURASSIC PARK, Sam Neill, 1993 / Everett Collection

To be sure, Neill has not been idle since Jurassic Park. “I think you probably get the gist from the book that looking back, which is not something I’m given to do a lot, I’m sort of surprised that anything happened for me at all,” he admitted in an interview with Empire. “But I’m immensely grateful for doing a film like Jurassic Park. As for being a movie star, I’ve got friends who are movie stars and I’ve never seen myself in that light. But I just love making movies, and I’m very comfortable on set.”

EVENT HORIZON, Sam Neill, 1997, (c) Paramount/courtesy Everett Collection

Those comfortable sets saw Neill in a range of films and television shows that primarily showed off his versatility – and that’s the heart of it, really; Neill is at his strongest showing off his range. Jurassic Park did not typecast him.

So, since the ’90s blockbuster, which turns 30 this June – and still holds up – Neill has been in the historical drama The Tudors, where he put forward a celebrated performance as Cardinal Thomas Wolsey. He can be seen in Reilly, Ace of Spies, Event Horizon, and The Almighty Johnsons.

THE TUDORS, Sam Neill, Emmanuel Leconte (Season 1, 2007), 2007-10. photo: © Showtime / Courtesy: Everett Collection

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