Sam Neill is eight months in remission following a blood cancer diagnosis but says “he’s fine” and wishes the headlines were more focused on his upcoming book, which he wrote while undergoing treatment.
The Jurassic Park and Invasion actor initially opened up about his health in an interview with The Guardian published on Friday, which was tied to his new memoir. Releasing on March 21, Did I Ever Tell You This? was written in just a few months during 2022 while, as Neill wrote, he was “possibly dying.” The book chronicles the Ireland-born actor’s Hollywood journey from New Zealand beginnings — “where there was no film industry” in the ’60s and ’70s, according to the book’s summary — to his time working with Meryl Streep, Isabel Adjani, Jeff Goldblum, Sean Connery, Steven Spielberg and Jane Campion.
According to the actor, he first discovered he had swollen glands in March of last year while doing press for Jurassic World Dominion in Los Angeles. The diagnosis was stage three angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma, a blood cancer, that he was in chemotherapy to treat within weeks.
Neill told the outlet that at the time, he wasn’t afraid to die and ultimately “couldn’t care less” about it, “but it would annoy me. Because I’d really like another decade or two, you know? We’ve built all these lovely terraces, we’ve got these olive trees and cypresses, and I want to be around to see it all mature. And I’ve got my lovely little grandchildren. I want to see them get big.”
The interview details that after his first round of chemo didn’t work, the actor tried a new and “very expensive” drug that Neill will do monthly for the rest of his life. He will also receive it for free after signing a contract with the drug company that guaranteed it was no-cost if he was still alive after the first four months of treatment. After joking that he has “a slight look of lab rat” about him, he told The Guardian, “I’m not off the hook as such, but there’s no cancer in my body.”
Now the actor says that he wished the headlines focused more on that reality — that he’s “alive and well,” promoting a book and gearing up for a new film instead of the “slightly tiresome” cancer news that proceeded the interview. “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 in an Instagram video posted Saturday, which saw Neill responding to reports about his health. “I’m alive and kicking and I’m going to work.”
The Hunt for Red October star shared that along with his book’s impending release, he is slated to start filming Apples Never Fall alongside Annette Bening in seven days and is “very happy to be going back to work.”
“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?’” he continued. “And it does mention cancer because that’s the sort of context in which I wrote it. But I didn’t really mean to write a book, I needed something to do while I was undergoing treatment, and I am used to going to work and I suddenly couldn’t go to work.”
He went on to celebrate the “great response” around the book, which he said he was “very nervous” to write as a first-time author.
“It gives you an idea of all the crazy things that have happened to me. The tone of the book is one of surprise. I never thought that I would have a career as an actor, let alone an actor on screen. But that’s kind of what happened and I am full of gratitude looking back on this life, and that’s what the book is about,” he added. “So I hope you enjoy it, and let’s not worry too much about ‘all that’ because I’m fine.”