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18th Mar 2023

Jurassic Park star Sam Neill diagnosed with stage-three cancer

Steve Hopkins

‘I can’t pretend that the last year hasn’t had its dark moments’

Sam Neill has revealed that he is being treated for stage-three blood cancer.

The Jurassic Park actor broke the news in his book, Did I Ever Tell You This?, which he spoke about to the Guardian.

The 75-year-old’s book opens with a gut punch.

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

Neill first experienced swollen glands during the publicity round for Jurassic World Dominion in March last year and was then diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. He received chemotherapy, but when that started to fail, 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 told the newspaper.

“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 started writing vignettes from his life as a way to keep busy while undergoing treatment when he found himself “with nothing to do”.

“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.”

So, he started writing, even though he 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.”

The Guardian said, in Neill’s book, he reveals himself to be a great storyteller and reward readers with stories from his early years in Ireland to growing up in New Zealand, with many amusing film set anecdotes in between.

He said his book is not a cancer memoir, that rather his illness forms a “spiral thread” throughout the narrative.

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.

Read the Guardian’s full interview with Sam here.

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