Sam Neill, likely best known for playing paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant in Steven Spielberg’s original “Jurassic Park” franchise films, has recently revealed that he’s receiving treatment for stage-three blood cancer.
The 75-year-old actor told the BBC this week that he was diagnosed with “a ferocious type of aggressive” non-Hodgkin lymphoma about 12 months ago, explaining that his initial thoughts were, “I’m crook, I’m dying.”
Neill first noticed that he was experiencing swollen glands during a publicity tour for “Jurassic World: Dominion” in March last year.
In an interview published in the Guardian on March 17, Neill said that the first rounds of chemotherapy treatment failed, but he’s now cancer-free after switching to a relatively new anti-cancer drug that he will have to take on a monthly basis for the rest of his life.
“I’m not off the hook as such, but there’s no cancer in my body,” Neill told the publication.
Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma is an aggressive form of cancer that develops in the lymphatic system. It can potentially return, even after it has been eliminated, but Neill’s anti-cancer drug will decrease the chances of this happening.
What Am I Going to Do?
Unable to work, the Northern Ireland-born actor, who currently lives in New Zealand, said that he began writing a memoir as a distraction and to “give me a reason to get through the day.”
“I found myself with nothing to do,” Neill said. “I’m used to working. I love working. I love going to work. I love being with people every day and enjoying human company and friendship and all these things. And suddenly I was deprived of that. And I thought, what am I going to do?”
“I never had any intention to write a book,” he added. “But as I went on and kept writing, I realized 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.”
Neill’s book, “Did I Ever Tell You This?,” is set for release on March 21. In the book, the actor discusses his blood cancer diagnosis, decades-long big-screen career, and experience growing up in Ireland and New Zealand.
“I was very nervous, obviously as a first-time author. Anyway, I think it’s fun. We sub-titled it ‘Movies, Life, Love, and Other Catastrophes,” Neil wrote in the caption of a video he posted on Instagram on March 18. “So it gives you an idea of all the crazy things that have happened to me.”
Neill assured fans in the social media post that he’s “alive and well” after reports of his cancer diagnosis started to appear all over the news, noting “[I’ve] been in remission for eight months, which feels really good.”
“Hi, I’m Sam Neill! Actor of sorts, vintner, and an author as it happens,” Neill wrote in the post.
“I’m alive and kicking and I’m going to work. I’m very happy to be going back to work. We start filming in seven days’ time. I’m doing a thing called ‘Apples Never Fall’ with Annette Bening, and a really wonderful cast. So here I am, and I just wish the headline wasn’t ‘that thing’ so much,” he added, referring to his diagnosis appearing in headlines.
Neill started his acting career in the 1970s and has been considered one of the most versatile actors of his generation. He recently returned to the science fiction action film series to perform in “Jurassic World: Dominion,” where he appeared alongside his former “Jurassic Park” co-stars, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern.