Sam Neill reveals cancer diagnosis in new memoir
The Shocking Revelation
The actor Sam Neill has revealed that he is being treated for stage-three blood cancer in a candid memoir to be released on Tuesday. In an interview with the Guardian about his book, Did I Ever Tell You This?, the 75-year-old Jurassic Park star discusses his career in film and television, the nature of celebrity, life on his New Zealand farm, and mortality, having opened his book with a shock.
The Writing Therapy
Neill started writing vignettes from his life as a way to keep busy – and as a salve – while undergoing treatment last year. “I never had any intention to write a book. But as I went on and kept writing, I realised it was actually sort of giving me a reason to live and I would go to bed thinking, ‘I’ll write about that tomorrow … that will entertain me.’ And so it was a lifesaver really, because I couldn’t have gone through that with nothing to do, you know.”
In Did I Ever Tell You This? – with its cover line endorsements from the likes of Meryl Streep, Laura Dern and Stephen Fry – Neill reveals himself to be an enormously good raconteur with a collection of stories that take the reader from his first seven years in Ireland to growing up in New Zealand and the eccentricities of his family life, through funny coming of age stories and amusing anecdotes from film sets over the years (co-stars behaving badly, take note). He said his book is not a cancer memoir, that rather his illness forms a “spiral thread” throughout the narrative.
The Cancer Diagnosis
Neill first experienced swollen glands during publicity for Jurassic World Dominion in March last year and was soon diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma. He received chemotherapy, but when that started to fail, he embarked on a new chemotherapy drug which he will continue to receive monthly for the rest of his life, although he is now cancer-free.
“I can’t pretend that the last year hasn’t had its dark moments,” he said. “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. Just pleased to be alive.”
Neill, whose acting career began in the 1970s and is comprised of over 150 roles from My Brilliant Career to The Piano to Jurassic Park to Peaky Blinders, is currently in preparation to start filming on the television adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s bestselling novel Apples Never Fall, being filmed in Australia and co-starring Annette Bening.