CAIRO – 14 September 2017: September 14 is the 70th birthday of Irish/New Zealander actor Sam Neill, most famous for his lead role as Paleontologist Alan Grant in "Jurassic Park".
Originally hailing from Ireland, Neill was born in 1947 but moved to New Zealand at the age of six. His birth name was Nigel, though he would take up Sam as his stage name and later his legal one. He originally started off as a director, working to produce films for the New Zealand National Film Unit, working there for six years.
Before starring in his iconic role in "Jurassic Park", Neil had already established himself as an accomplished actor. In 1977, he had his first lead role in "Sleeping Dogs", a political drama set in New Zealand where Neill played a man accused of murder and caught between the revolution and government.
In 1988, he starred alongside Meryl Streep for the Australian drama film "A Cry in the Dark", where he played Michael, a pastor whose wife, Lindy Chamberlain (Streep), fights to prove her innocence after their son is carried off by a Dingo.
Neill was later part of a star-studded cast alongside Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin for 1990’s "The Hunt for Red October", a high-paced thriller about the race to stop a Russian submarine carrying a nuclear missile from reaching the U.S.
Then came Stephen Spielberg’s 1993 blockbuster masterpiece "Jurassic Park", the film that turned Neill into a household name. As Alan Grant, he introduced the world to Jurassic Park’s incredible dinosaurs, inspiring generations of children to become Paleontologist’s themselves. Though he was absent from the follow-up sequel, 1997’s “Jurassic Park: The Lost World”, Neill would return to reprise his role as Grant for 2001’s "Jurassic Park 3".
Another of his most famous films was "The Piano", released the same year as "Jurassic Park". He played Alistair Stewart, husband to the mute main character Ada, played by Holly Hunter, a peculiar woman who refuses to speak and loves her piano, and begins having an affair behind Stewart’s back.
Neill would continue to act across a variety of roles, even voice-acting in "The Simpsons" in 1994, where he played a jewel thief who bamboozles the town of Springfield. In 1999, he starred in the TV miniseries "Merlin", where he played the wizard of legend and was awarded his first Golden Globe nomination for the role.
He also had a prominent role in the 1997 science-fiction horror film "Event Horizon", though the film itself was not particularly well-received, and was a critical failure at the box office, failing to make ends meet. While Neill has not starred in something as big as "Jurassic Park" again, he continues to act with prolificacy, switching between TV and the silver screen. More recently, he has an upcoming role for 2018’s "Thor: Ragnarok".