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The Adventures of Sam Neill: From Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma Diagnosis to Writing Memoir




The actor Sam Neill received a diagnosis of “a ferocious type of aggressive” non-Hodgkin lymphoma, which was discovered during Stage three cancer in March 2022. At the time, he thought his “life was over,” but he has remained positive and is now in remission.

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A New Focus

While he was unable to work, Neill found a new focus through writing. Writing was a distraction, as well as something to give him a reason to get through the day, according to a BBC interview.

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The Book

His new memoir Did I Ever Tell You This? discusses his illness and his almost 50-year career on screen. Writing initially began as something therapeutic, but it grew into a full book, which he wrote entirely himself. The memoir was published in record time, as Neill feared that he might not make it.

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The Dark Days

In the book, Neill talks about the “dark days” that come with a cancer diagnosis. He lost his hair after the first round of chemotherapy and said that he does not like his current appearance.

The Cancer

Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is an uncommon cancer that affects the lymphatic system. Neill’s cancer is currently in remission, and he is in excellent spirits.

The Actor

Throughout his career, Neill has appeared in more than 70 films, starring alongside famous actors such as Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, and Jeff Goldblum. He claims that the fundamentals of screen acting have not changed in recent years. Still, he likes to take a stab at younger actors, who he believes have a habit of mumbling their lines.

Spilling the Beans

The book also has some juicy stories about Neill’s co-stars, such as Harvey Keitel, who he describes as “truculent and difficult and a bit graceless.” He admits to having had a falling out with Australian actor Judy Davis. Still, he is quick to add that the book’s title should be “Spilling the Beans” due to the number of secrets he has revealed.

Barbra Streisand

One such secret that has garnered much interest is Neill’s meeting with Barbra Streisand in a New York hotel suite in the 1980s for a role in her film Yentl. Neill has always admired Streisand, but he admits that he has never enjoyed her singing. To Neill’s shock and dismay, Streisand proceeded to sing two songs from the film at full volume just five feet away from him.


While Neill must still undergo several chemotherapy treatments, he is in high spirits and looking forward to returning to work. He is now set to appear in a new film in Australia and is currently starring in the ITVX legal drama series The Twelve. Despite his recent health struggles, Neill is only interested in one thing: living.



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