Australian Story on ABC – Acclaimed actor Sam Neill was at the top of his game when a sore neck prompted a visit to the doctor.
A shock diagnosis followed, with Sam finding himself rushed into treatment for an aggressive blood cancer.
Now in remission, Sam reveals the experience forced him to confront his own mortality.
“One of the things I’ve learnt … is how important it is to live in the moment,” says Sam.
“We don’t ruminate on mortality, the pair of us,” says best mate and fellow actor Bryan Brown. “But he’s had to deal with something big.”
During his treatment, he put pen to paper to document his life, hoping to capture his memories for his children and grandchildren.
“He was on a lot of steroid medication, which gave him a lot of energy and … he burned the midnight oil by writing chapters and chapters of this book at an incredible pace,” says his haematologist, Dr Orly Lavee.
Now his biggest fear is the ‘r’ word.
“The idea of retirement fills me with horror,” he says. “Not to be able to do the things you love would be heartbreaking.”
Sam is now back acting and making wine at his beloved New Zealand vineyard.
“I’m not in any way frightened of dying, but I would be annoyed. I’d be annoyed because there are things I still want to do.”
Producers: Vanessa Gorman and Kirstin Murray.
Australian Story on ABC and ABC iview – Monday 16 October, 2023 at 8:00pm
Media Release – ABC
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Australian Story on ABC