While Neill was happy to work with Steven Spielberg, he says that some of the cast felt that the film’s marketing downplayed the non-dinosaur contributors.
After announcing his cancer diagnosis this month (and subsequently reassuring fans that he’s in remission), Sam Neill turned his fans’ attention to more cheerful topics with the release of his new memoir, “Did I Ever Told You That?” The book is full of behind-the-scenes anecdotes from Neill’s extensive filmography, including “The Piano” and “Peaky Blinders.”
But of course Neill’s stories about the making of “Jurassic Park” drew the most attention. The actor landed one of the biggest roles of his career when Steven Spielberg cast him in his 1993 dinosaur classic – but feared he would be a bad fit for the part.
“I was tormented by the usual uncertainties,” Neill wrote in his book. “Why me? I’m certainly not an action hero. The idea of going hand-in-hand with Sylvester Stallone or Arnold Schwarzenegger is just absurd. I’m more of an everyday guy on the screen. If I was really supposed to be that action guy, I think I was already forty-five years old and, as always, I left things ten or fifteen years too late.
According to Neill, these feelings were exacerbated when the film’s marketing campaign made it clear that the real stars of the film were the CGI dinosaurs, not the actors.
“The impostor syndrome kicked in later when we were out promoting the film,” he wrote. “The more or less official position of Universal Pictures was that with ‘Jurassic Park’ they wanted to prove that they and Spielberg could make huge hits without ‘movie stars.’ That was true enough, but I think it was a little annoying for us actors to be reminded from time to time that we weren’t real ‘stars’. He also ignored the well established and highly respected careers of Laura, Jeff and Dicky. As it turns out, we now know that Harrison Ford turned down the role, so the ‘not a movie star’ plan might not be entirely true.”
Still, Neill made it clear that his gripes with the film’s marketing were a small price to pay for being in such an iconic film.
“I emphasize the word ‘slightly’ because more than anything, we enjoyed working with Steven,” he wrote. “And to work on something that would turn out to be absolutely groundbreaking.”
Register: Stay up to date with the latest movie and TV news! Subscribe to our email newsletter here.