Sam Neill stays very, very still...

James Mottram discovers that
Sam Neill couldn’t be happier returning to Monster Island to battle the new breed of dinosaurs...
in Jurassic Park III

From Film Review July 2001

Sam Neill - pipe not shown There's something of the scientist about Sam Neill. Not unlike his Jurassic Park co-star Jeff Goldblum, where both played boffins, Neill carries a thoughtful demeanour about him wherever he goes. Tall and tanned, he looks healthy for his 53 years, when we meet in London’s Sanderson hotel. All that’s missing is the pipe, a vice he has long since quit, and his intellectual status would be secured. “I’m sorry to say there are fewer and fewer pipe-smokers around,” he says. “It’s all about the detail: having the time to consider things while you stuff the tobacco in the pipe. Take (BBC comedy) The Fast Show, when Ralph is in full flight and Ted is mortified, Ted doesn’t know what to do or where to look – and that’s the comedy really...”

It’s an implement he put to good use in his most recent movie, smash Aussie comedy The Dish, where his character Cliff Buxton, the man charged with the task of beaming satellite pictures of Neil Armstrong’s 1969 moon-walk world-wide, spent much of the film sucking on one. Rather necessary, when you have NASA breathing down your neck, perhaps, and good practice for reprising his most famous role, that of palaeontologist Dr Alan Grant in dinosaur extravaganza Jurassic Park III.

Absent from its predecessor, The Lost World, Neill admits that he relishes the chance to have a crack at the character for a second time. “I wasn’t quite happy with what I’d done with the character in the first film,” he says. “I was so over-awed by [Jurassic Park director Steven] Spielberg, I think I didn’t quite look after my guy as well as I might have. When the original film came out, I was rather stung by a New Yorker review. They give a five-line description of everything that is on, and Jurassic Park lasted about a year in the cinemas, so this bloody thing wouldn’t go away: it said ‘The first film in history where the special effects are more real than the actors.’ Hopefully we got it right this time.”

Co-starring with newcomers William H Macy (“a very, very good actor,” says Neill) and Alessandro Nivola, Neill is remaining “zipped tight” as to the plot details, but welcomed Joe Johnston (a former effects man for Spielberg) as the director on the third instalment. “I think that was a good call, to have someone with a fresh pair of eyes and with the enthusiasm and the sheer sense of mischief that Joe has.”

As for whether or not he thinks it will surpass its predecessors, Neill is quietly confident. “The emphasis on this film, if anything, is on the action quota,” he says. “That’s probably why it was so time-absorbing. It may be the best of them, I’m not sure. That’s what they seem to think at base-camp...”

Film Review July 2001 issue For the full interview, read on in the 608th issue of Film Review...

Jurassic Park III opens on July 20 from UIP (JUly 18 in the US). Sadly, at the time of going to press there had been no screenings and the film will be reviewed next issue.

Images copyright: UIP
Feature © Visual Imagination Ltd 2001. Not for reproduction.

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