Sam Neill is best remembered by many as Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park, but his career in TV and on the big screen is quite extensive, and has been part of different projects since he left dinosaurs behind. Neill began his career in 1975, and achieved recognition with his role in the drama action-thriller Sleeping Dogs in 1977. He made his TV debut three years later in the miniseries Lucinda Brayford, and has since gone back and forth between films and TV projects.
Prior to Jurassic Park, he played a variety of characters that went from soldiers (Attack Force Z) to the antichrist himself (Damien Thorn in Omen III: The Final Conflict). His biggest roles in the pre-Jurassic Park era were in the Australian drama Evil Angels alongside Meryl Streep, and the period drama The Piano. Although he was already a respected actor, his role as Alan Grant gave his career a major boost.
Neill played Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, and he kept himself quite busy in between films. His most notable roles were in John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness, the historical drama Restoration, Robert Redford’s The Horse Whisperer, and Chris Columbus’ sci-fi drama Bicentennial Man, where he shared the screen with Robin Williams. Neill also took part in many TV projects, the biggest one being the miniseries Merlin, where he played the titular character. During this time, he also lent his voice to a character in The Simpsons (Malloy, in the episode “Homer the Vigilante”). After Jurassic Park III in 2001, his career got even more interesting.
Neill hasn’t stopped working since his days as Alan Grant, and appeared in films like Wimbledon, The Hunter, The Vow, Escape Plan, and The Daughter. He lent his voice to Allomere in Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole and played two characters in Peter Rabbit: Mr. Joe McGregor and Tommy Brock, the latter being a voice role. Neill can also brag about being part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although he didn’t exactly play a superhero: he had a cameo appearance in Thor: Ragnarok as the actor who played Odin in Loki’s (very dramatic) theatre play.
As for television, he appeared in various miniseries, but his most memorable roles are Cardinal Thomas Wolsey in The Tudors and Major Chester Campbell in Peaky Blinders. Unfortunately, his stint on the TV series Alcatraz was short-lived as the series was cancelled not far into its first season. Among his most recent works are the films Palm Beach and Blackbird, and he’s set to return as Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic World 3, along with Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum. Sam Neill is one of those actors you have definitely seen multiple times outside the world of Jurassic Park, as he is one of the most versatile and hard working actors in the industry.
- Jurassic World 3 (2021) release date: Jun 11, 2021