A Disney and Universal actor who revealed his battle with Stage III cancer in March says his doctors have told him that his rare treatments will fail, and though he’s not afraid to die, he admits that dying will be “annoying.”
Jurassic Park star Sam Neill, who played Dr. Alan Grant alongside actress Laura Dern and actor Jeff Goldblum in Steven Spielberg’s dino-film franchise, has made peace with the fact that he has Stage 3 blood cancer.
Making Peace with a Difficult Discovery
Not only has the actor made peace with his diagnosis, coming to terms with the fact that he has cancer, but he has also determined that he’s unafraid to die. Something else, however, terrifies him.
During a recent interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Australian Story, Neill, the 76-year-old actor from New Zealand who made a name for himself with such blockbusters as The Hunt For Red October (1990), Jurassic Park (1993), Event Horizon (1997), The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), Bicentennial Man (1999), Jurassic Park III (2001), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Thor: Love and Thunder (2022), and Jurassic Park: World Dominion (2022), said death would be “annoying,” but he said he’s “not remotely afraid” of dying.
The idea of retiring from acting, however, “fills [him] with horror.”
Neill said during the interview that he’s been in remission for 12 months, and he credits the effects of a rare anti-cancer medication that requires the actor to receive infusions every two weeks. There’s just one problem, Neill said: his doctors have told him that at some point, the drug will no longer be effective in keeping his cancer at bay.
And while such news might diminish hope for another, Neill says that since it’s out of his control, he doesn’t get too involved with it.
“I know I’ve got it, but I’m not really interested in it,” he said, referring to his blood cancer. “It’s out of my control; if you can’t control it, don’t get into it.”
Neill, who also stars in Peaky Blinders, first received his diagnosis in early 2022 during a visit to New Zealand to see his family. It was the first visit the actor made following two years of restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Neill and his son Tim, the actor had only been back among family for about an hour when he received a call from his doctor–a call that forever changed his life.
A Challenging Journey
“When he hung the phone up, we sat down, and we had a little bit of a cry together,” Tim Neill, 40, said of the painful experience with his father. “It was supposed to be a happy day. He didn’t get to stay.”
Neill was forced to shorten his trip to New Zealand so that he could return home and begin treatments.
“I was in really a fight for my life,” Neill explained. “And everything was a new world and a rather alarming world. “I had three or four months of reasonably conventional chemotherapies, which are brutal.”
Neill’s chemotherapy treatments made him exceedingly weak–something that took his son by surprise once he was able to visit his father.
“I was shocked, and I broke down, and I could barely hug him,” Tim Neill explained. “He was just, you know, bones and skin. And then he was giving me a hard time for being upset about it and saying I was stressing him out, but I was going, ‘What are you talking about, Dad?'”
But after three grueling months of chemotherapy, Neill received even more heartbreaking news: his treatments weren’t effective against his cancer, and as a result, the malignancy had come back with a vengeance.
The awful news came as a predecessor to a miracle, though, as Neill’s doctors made the decision to stop chemotherapy treatment and begin using a rare anti-cancer drug in Neill’s treatment program. The goal of the drug is to stop the cancer in its tracks–and it worked.
The actor has now been in remission for a year, and for the foreseeable future, he will continue his current treatment protocol, which involves receiving an infusion every two weeks. Neill says that the first few days following an infusion are challenging, as they can be “very grim and depressing.”
During those challenging days, Neill feels as though he has gone 10 rounds with a boxer, but he’s positive about the treatment, as it realizes “it’s keeping me alive.”
But his doctors have cautioned the actor, saying that the miracle drug he’s taking won’t work forever.
Revealing His Diagnosis
Sam Neill first shared the news of his blood cancer diagnosis in his memoir titled Did I Ever Tell You This? The book was published in March 2022, and in it, the actor, whose career has spanned more than 50 years so far, told fans he was “possibly dying.”
“I didn’t know really how long I had to live,” he said during his interview with Australian Story. “I thought, yeah, I should probably write something down for my children [and] my grandchildren because I may not be here in a couple of months, and it would be good for them to have a sense of me, you know, and some of the things that I’ve done.”
“I’m not in any way frightened of dying,” he explained. “That doesn’t worry me. It’s never worried me from the beginning, but I would be annoyed. I’d be annoyed because there are things I still want to do. Very irritating, dying. But I’m not afraid of it.”