Sam Neill says not using his ‘embarrassing’ birth name is the ‘best decision I ever made’

‘Jurassic Park’ star joked that his real name gave him a ‘disadvantage’ as a child

Inga Parkel
Wednesday 01 May 2024 19:42 BST
Jurassic Park stars Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill reunite for musical number

Sam Neill has explained why he gave up his real name and how his stage name came to be.

After Neill was welcomed on Tuesday’s (30 April) episode of The Kelly Clarkson Show, host Kelly Clarkson said: “I didn’t even realise that your real name isn’t even Sam.”

Letting out a sigh, the Jurassic Park star, 76, responded: “That’s embarrassing that you know that. I was christened Nigel Neill – that’s like my parents giving me a disadvantage from the start.”

“I think Nigel Neill is strong!” Clarkson, 42, argued.

“No, no. You never want to be called Nigel. It’s also called ‘Nigel No Mates’, you know, ‘Nigel No Friends,’” the Kiwi actor added.

“When I was 10, my best friend was called Nigel Nut – which is even worse – and I was Nigel Neill,” he continued.

“Yeah, that was a disadvantage. But we liked Westerns, and we thought, ‘let’s not just call ourselves Nigel, let’s have nickname.’ So I was called Sam and he was called Bill, and that was the best decision I ever made.”

Sam Neil attends the Los Angeles Premiere Of Peacock’s New Series ‘Apples Never Fall'
Sam Neil attends the Los Angeles Premiere Of Peacock’s New Series ‘Apples Never Fall' (Getty Images)

Neill, who is best known for playing Dr Alan Grant in the Jurassic World franchise, currently stars in Peacock’s mystery drama miniseries Apples Never Fall.

An adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s 2021 novel of the same name, the show follows the well-known Delaney family, whose world is turned upside down when a wounded young woman shows up on their doorstep.

Suddenly, the family matriarch (Annette Bening) goes missing, leaving the four adult Delaney children scrambling to piece together what they thought they knew about their parents.

All seven episodes of Apples Never Fall are available to stream on Peacock.

Last March, Neill revealed he was being treated for angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma in his memoir, Did I Ever Tell You This?.

Months later, however, he confirmed to ABC’s Australian Story that he had been in remission for 12 months. And although he said that doctors had told him that, at some point, treatment would stop working, he said: “I’m prepared for that,” adding that he is “not remotely afraid” of death.

In a February 2023 interview with The Independent, Neill dismissed the idea of retiring.

“The idea of giving up my day job? Intolerable!” he said. “I love acting. It’s really good for me to keep walking onto new sets with young actors and all that stimulation. New words, new ideas, there’s nothing like it. I never want to give that up. The idea of retirement, of having to play golf, fills me with untold dread.”

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