Beloved actor Sam Neill reveals why changing his name was the ‘best decision’ he ever made

Aug 16, 2023
Celebrated as an “international leading man”, Neill stands out as one of the most adaptable actors of his generation. Source: Getty Images.

Long before he became the Jurassic Park star we know today, beloved actor Sam Neill went by a strikingly different name in his early days.

Neill made the disclosure in his new memoir Did I Ever Tell You This, surprising fans with the revelation that his name at birth was Nigel John Dermot Neill.

Neill, who has captured the hearts of audiences around the world with his remarkable performances, shared that adopting the new moniker was indeed the “best decision” he ever made, setting him on a path to stardom that would change his life.

“The one thing I resent about my parents, the only thing, is that they called me Nigel,” Neill wrote in the book.

“Changing my name to Sam at the age of 11 was probably the best decision I made in my life.”

While Neill no doubt caught fans by surprise with the reveal of his former name, he certainly caught his adoring fanbase off guard when he revealed that he had recently battled stage 3 blood cancer.

As concerns grew for the star, Neill was forced to take to social media to alleviate any concerns and let fans know he was doing fine.

Neill posted a video to Instagram in which he shared further details regarding the condition of his health and that he is currently in remission.

“Hi I’m Sam Neill, actor of sorts, vintner, and an author as it happens. And my news seems to be all over the news at the moment, and it’s sort of ‘Cancer ! Cancer! Cancer !’ Which is slightly tiresome because as you see, I am alive and well and I have been in remission for eight months, which feels really good,” he said at the time.

“And I’m alive and kicking and I’m going to work.”


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Neill then encouraged fans to focus less on his latest health news and instead get excited about his new book.

“So here I am, and I just wish the headline wasn’t ‘that thing’ so much, 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,” he said.

“So I hope you enjoy it, and let’s not worry too much about ‘all that’ because I’m fine. Okay!”

Celebrated as an “international leading man”, Neill stands out as one of the most adaptable actors of his generation.

Following his breakthrough performance in the 1977 movie Sleeping Dogs, Neill went on to take on leading roles in films such as My Brilliant Career (1979), Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), A Cry in the Dark (1988), Dead Calm (1989), The Hunt For Red October (1990), The Piano (1993), and In the Mouth of Madness (1994). Neill gained global acclaim for his portrayal of Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park (1993), a character he reprised in Jurassic Park III (2001) and Jurassic World Dominion (2022).

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