Disney, Universal Actor Reveals His Recent Battle with Stage III Cancer

sam neill black and white photo with yellow sunburst background

An actor with a 50-year career that includes roles in Disney and Universal films just revealed he recently battled cancer.

In his new memoir, which will be released later this month, New Zealand actor Sam Neill reveals he was recently diagnosed with stage III blood cancer, specifically Angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma (AITL).

sam neill

Credit: Variety

In a recent interview, Neill said he began to experience symptoms like swollen glands during the publicity for Universal’s Jurassic World. Soon after, he received his cancer diagnosis. Following the diagnosis, the 75-year-old actor underwent chemotherapy treatments. Ultimately, the treatments had a positive effect on his cancer.

AITL is a rare type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), a type of blood cancer. AITL affects T-cells in the immune system and can be characterized by several different symptoms, including enlarged lymph nodes, a skin rash, fever, and problems with the immune system. This type of cancer usually affects older adults and is more common in men than it is in women. It’s usually diagnosed by blood tests and biopsies after a patient visits a physician with symptoms.

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sam neill

Credit: The Independent

Neill says that though his new book, Did I Ever Tell You This?, is not about the illness or his treatment journey, there is a “spiral thread” related to his disease throughout the narrative in the book.

Neill says that he is now cancer-free, though he is currently taking a new chemotherapy drug that he will likely take once a month for the rest of his life.

“I’m not off the hook as such, but there’s no cancer in my body,” Neill said in an interview with The Guardian. “I can’t pretend that the last year hasn’t had its dark moments, 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. [I’m] just pleased to be alive.”

A representative for the actor told CNN that Neill is doing “very well and back at work.”

Neill is best known for his portrayal of Dr. Alan Grant in Universal’s Jurassic Park film franchise.

Sam Neill

Credit: Universal Pictures

For Disney, Neill played the part of Colonel Geoffrey Brydon in Disney’s Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book (1994). He also played Sir Richard Martin in Disney’s Bicentennial Man. In addition, he made a cameo appearance in Thor: Ragnarok and Thor: Love and Thunder.

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At the time of this publication, Neill is in production alongside actress Annette Bening on the Apples Never Fall series for the Peacock streaming platform, based on author Liane Moriarty’s best-selling novel. And speaking of novels, Sam Neill’s memoir, Did I Ever Tell You This?, will be released on Tuesday and is available now for pre-order.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!