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Some of Sam Neill’s Greatest Performances

With a career spanning over 40 years, Sam Neill has had his fair share of amazing roles. From his legendary part in Jurassic Park in 1993 as Doctor Alan Grant, to his more recent appearances in BBC hit Peaky Blinders as the intense Inspector Chester Campbell, Sam Neill has played a versatile range of characters. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the release of Jane Campion’s magnificent drama The Piano, available to own on DVD, Blu-ray and Digital Download on July 16, and featuring one of Sam Neill’s best performances; we’ve made a list of just a few of Sam Neill’s top roles.


Doctor Alan Grant – Jurassic Park (1993) – Directed by Steven Spielberg

When billionaire mogul John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) creates an island full of living dinosaurs, he invites expert palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant (Sam Neill) and paleobonatist Dr Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) to observe and hopefully endorse the park in order to attract visitors. When a park employee attempts to steal dinosaur embryos, security systems are shut down, releasing a deadly onslaught of dinosaurs out into the open. Sam Neill gives a commanding performance, as Dr Alan Grant must use his superior dinosaur knowledge to navigate his way through park with two children, all while being hunted by deadly raptors.


Captain Borodin – The Hunt For Red October (1990) – Directed by John McTiernan

The soviets have designed a new submarine called ‘Red October’ capable of running silently thanks to its new engine. The Submarine is captained by Marko Ramius (Sean Connery) and his subordinate Vasili Borodin (Sam Neill). Marko Ramius decides to defect to the Americans fearing a soviet plan to use the submarine to inflict a nuclear blow to the American east coast. Chased by the entire soviet fleet and met with suspicion from the Americans, Ramius and Borodin find themselves in a cat and mouse game in the depths of the ocean, while also having to deal with a saboteur on board their submarine.


John Trent – In The Mouth of Madness (1994) – Directed by John Carpenter

John Trent (Sam Neill) is an insurance investigator tasked with finding the horror writer, Sutter Cane (Jürgen Prochnow). Turns out Cane’s books are driving people crazy. Trent eventually tracks Cane down in the town of Hobb’s End – a place that had previously only existed in Cane’s books. Trent experiences strange and horrific events that causes his sanity to slowly slip away. What follows is a descent into Lovecraftian madness and Sam Neill does an incredible job of an ordinary, cynical man, trying his best to comprehend what is going on around him despite it making no sense. We talked about the film in a recent episode of the After The Ending podcast.


Hector – Hunt for the Wilderpeople (2016) – Directed by Taika Waititi

When Hector (Sam Neill) and Bella (Rima Te Wiata), a reclusive country couple, decide to adopt troubled city teen Ricky (Julian Dennison) things go reasonably well. Until tragically Bella dies, leaving Hector to look after Ricky alone, while suffering due to the loss of his wife. The pair begin to clash, and the adoption agency decide it would be best for Ricky to be taken from the home and put back up for adoption. Not wanting this, Ricky decides to run away from home, with Hector following hoping to bring him back. However when Hector becomes injured, the two become stuck in the jungle, and over time the two bond and a friendship blossoms. Sam Neill gives a heart-warming performance in this New Zealand comedy.


Inspector Chester Campbell – Peaky Blinders – Created by Steven Knight

In this crime drama based in 1920s Birmingham, Sam Neill plays Inspector Campbell, an extremely religious and morally concerned man. However, when it comes to capturing criminals, he’s happy to leave morals at the door, especially when it comes to Thomas Shelby (Cillian Murphy). Expertly portraying the ruthlessness of Campbell, this is surely one of Sam Neill’s best performances.


Alistair Stewart – The Piano (1993) – Directed by Jane Campion

Set in the mid nineteenth century, this epic drama tells the story of Ada (Holly Hunter), a mute woman who is shipped off to New Zealand with her daughter and beloved piano, through which she expresses herself, to marry Alistair Stewart (Sam Neill). When Stewart sells her piano to a neighbour, Baines (Harvey Keital), he offers Ada the chance to earn back her most prized possession, through playing the piano for him, with other conditions attached. Though first despising Baines, the two soon become attached, leading to dire consequences. Sam Neill’s performance as the harsh, but also betrayed husband in this Oscar winning film is one of the best in his career.

Obviously there are many other great Sam Neill roles, but which are your favourites?


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One Comment

  1. How could you leave out his role in Wim Wenders’ Until the End of the World? He was fantastic!

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