Category Archives: Australia

Kate Sheppard 3.10.13 Thought of the Day

“All that separates, whether of race, class, creed, or sex, is inhuman, and must be overcome.” –Kate Sheppard

Social reformer, suffragist, writer, and first...

Catherine Wilson Malcolm was born on this day in Liverpool, England in 1847. Today is the 166th anniversary of her birth.
Although christened Catherine she preferred Kate. She lived in London, Nairn (Scotland) and Dublin. She was well-educated and excelled in science, the arts and law.  She shared her father’s love of music and her mother’s faith in the Free church of Scotland (her uncle was a minister in the church.) She lived in the UK until 1869. After her father passed away her mother, brother and sister moved to Christchurch, New Zealand.  At 24 she married Walter Allen Sheppard, and they had a son, Douglas.
In New Zealand she got involved in the temperance movement.
Women’s Christian Temperance Union, which advocated women’s suffrage as a means to fight for liquor prohibition. For Kate, suffrage quickly became an end in itself. Speaking for a new generation, she argued, ‘We are tired of having a “sphere” doled out to us, and of being told that anything outside that sphere is “unwomanly”.’ [New Zealand History Time Line]
She quickly became the leading voice for the movement and deployed her organizational, writing and speech making skills to rally other women to the cause.  The women refused to follow the advice of critics such as ” Wellington resident Henry Wright” who wrote…
…women were ‘recommended to go home, look after their children, cook their husbands’ dinners, empty the slops, and generally attend to the domestic affairs for which Nature designed them’; they should give up ‘meddling in masculine concerns of which they are profoundly ignorant’. [Ibid]
New Zealand became the first country to pass a Woman’s suffrage bill, granting woman the right to vote, in 1893. A a 766-foot-long petition containing 32,000 signature was unrolled in front of the country’s Parliament to get the job done.
National Council of Women at the inaugural mee...

National Council of Women at the inaugural meeting in Christchurch in 1896 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sheppard  continued to work for women’s rights  and freedoms. She traveled the world to promote the women’s right to vote, and  became president of the National Council of Women of New Zealand as well as the editor of The White Ribbon, a New Zealand newspaper owned, managed and published by women.
She died on 13 July 1934, a year after the first woman MP, Labour’s Elizabeth McCombs, entered Parliament. In recent years Sheppard’s contribution to New Zealand’s identity has been acknowledged on the $10 note and a commemorative stamp. [Ibid]

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Thought of the Day 11.1.12 Toni Collette

“I don’t understand why I do what I do. I don’t understand why I act anymore. But I do know that I love it, and that I find it really interesting and satisfying to enter into other worlds and explore different ways of thinking.”
Toni Collette

Toni Collette (United States of Tara)

Toni Collette (United States of Tara) (Photo credit: Capital M)

Antonia Collette was born on this day in Blacktown, Sydney, Australia in 1972. She is 40 years old today.

Toni is the oldest of three, and only girl, to Judy and Bob Collette. The family lived about an hour away from Sydney where Bob was a truck driver and Judy was a customer-service rep. When she was six the family moved to the Sydney suburbs. She had a number of pets as a child, including cats, dogs, birds and rabbits. Toni was always a tom-boy and athletic.

Collette at 15 at the Blackstown Girls High School [Image courtesy: Toni Collette Online]

At 14 she caught the acting bug when she performed in her school’s production of Godspell. By 16, with her parents permission, she dropped out of school and enrolled in NIDA (the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, ) It was a three-year acting course, but she left after 18 months to take a role in her first film Spotswood with Anthony Hopkins and Russell Crowe. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the Australian Film Institutefor her role as Wendy in the movie.

She moved to the Theatre, playing Petra in A Little Night Music , Meg in Away .

…She won a Critics’ Circle Award as Best Newcomer for her performance as Sonya in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya“. There would also be Aristophane’s “Frogs (…directed by Geoffrey Rush), Summer Of The Aliens , and … Cordelia in King Lear. [Toni Collette Online]

Cover of "Muriel's Wedding"

Cover of Muriel’s Wedding

Her break out film was Muriel’s Wedding. Her hefty Muriel (she gained 40 pounds for the role) is a misfit. She has no direction in life. Her one hazy ambition is to get married, (even though she’s never had a boy friend).

A very special actress was needed, someone who could reveal the terrible torment and turmoil inside the outwardly cheery Muriel, someone who could really enjoy the extravagant highs of Muriel’s holiday – including a storming rendition of Abba’s Waterloo with Rachel Griffiths. [Ibid]

Collette is wonderful in the film about a “girl who didn’t fit in, but learns to stand out.” [from the dvd cover]. [If you are planning a Quirky Australian Film Night — and why wouldn’t you be? — throw this one in with Strictly Ballroom]

Cover of "Emma [Region 2]"

Cover of Emma [Region 2]

Her simple, sweet Harriet Smith in the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow/Jeremy Northam version of Jane Austen’s Emma was a delight. [Click Here to read the Thought of the Day on Gwyneth Paltrow.]

She made her Broadway in 1999 debut in Michael John LaChiusa’s The Wild Party. She nominated for a Toni Award, a Drama Desk Award and a Theatre World Award (Collette won the latter.)

She was offered the role of Bridget Jones, but had to turn it down because of her Broadway commitment. No worries, that left her free to take the role in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.  [Click Here to read the Thought of the Day on M. Night Shyamalan] Collette  earned an Oscar nomination as the harried mother who glued her troubled son to reality in this thriller. She turned in a fantastic performance among a cast full of fantastic performances and her turn from smiling, singing Muriel or bland, sweet Harriet to intense, worried Lynn Sear let the world know that she was an actress to look out for.

She had a supporting role in Nick Hornby’s About a Boy as Fiona, and in The Hours, as Kitty in 2002. Collette received a slew of awards and nominations for both.

Cover of "Little Miss Sunshine [Blu-ray]&...

Cover of Little Miss Sunshine [Blu-ray]

Collette played mom Sheryl Hoover in the sleeper hit of 2006, Little Miss Sunshine. Sunshine was an ensemble piece with quirky characters all around.

…Meet the Hoovers, an Albuquerque clan riddled with depression, hostility, and the tattered remnants of the American Dream; despite their flakiness, they manage to pile into a VW van for a weekend trek to L.A. in order to get moppet daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) into the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Much of the pleasure of this journey comes from watching some skillful comic actors doing their thing…[From Robert Horton’s review of Little Miss Sunshine on]

Again Collette plays a mom just trying to keep her family together (although to a lot more laughs here than she did in Sixth Sense.)

HBO and the BBC joined forces to produce Tsunami: The Aftermath in which Collette plays an Australian aid worker named Kathy Graham. Tim Roth, Hugh Bonneville & Chiwetel Ejiofor also star in the film that dramatized events around the devastating the 2004 tsunami that hit Thailand.

United States of Tara

United States of Tara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and an Australian Film Institute Award for her work on the United States of Tara. In it she plays a housewife with dissociative identity disorder. When stressed one of her multiple personalities come out. The show ran for three seasons on Showtime.

Collette re-teamed with her Muriel  director PJ Hogan for the quirky Aussie film Mental. It was release Down Under on October 4th.  Other indie films out (or coming out) include the comedy Jesus Henry Christ — a comedy about a ten-year old, “petri-dish”, boy genius who goes in search of his biological father and  Hitchcock — about the making of Psycho.

Collette and husband Dave Galafassi headline the group Toni Collette and the Finish. Their cd, “Beautiful Awkward Pictures” came out in 2006 features 11 of Collette’s original songs.

Here’s Cowboy Games…

Thought of the Day 10.12.12 Hugh Jackman

“Basically, I’ll make an ass of myself anywhere.”
Hugh Jackman

[Image courtesy: RealHughJackman (his twitter feed)]

Hugh Michael Jackman was born on this day in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia in 1968. He is 44 years old.

The youngest of five ankle-biters, Jackman was raised by his father when his parents divorced. Jackman was eight-years-old at the time. He grew up with a love of the outdoors and enjoyed camping and playing on the beach. His first brush with acting was in My Fair Lady in Knox Grammar School at 17. He earned a degree in Communications at the University of Technology, Sydney in 1991. To finish up his university work he took some acting classes and found his muse.

After finishing a one-year intensive course called “The Journey” at the Actor’s Center in Sydney he hopped coasts to Perth to attend the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts at Edith Cowan University.

Promotional still from Correlli . [Image courtesy: IMDb]

Almost immediately after graduating from ECU he was offered the part of  Kevin Jones in a 10-part prison drama on Australian Broadcasting Company’s (ABC) Correlli. Jackman began dating  his future wife, the series star, Deborra-Lee Furness on the show’s set.

After Correlli Jackman hit the stage for the Melbourne based productions of  Beauty and the Beast (as Gaston) and Sunset Boulevard (as Joe). Back in the cinema he was in the Australian indie films Erskinesville Kings and the rom-com Paperback Hero. He also did a smattering television guest spots on the ABC.

Still from the filmed staged production of Oklahoma! [Image courtesy: Great Performances]

His big international break came as Curley in Trevor Nunn’s reboot of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s “Oklahoma!” Jackman won an Oliver Award for his work in the musical.

Don’t mess with this man! Jackman snagged the #1 spot in the Top Ten Hollywood Heroes List on Netscape Celebrity’s pole, beating out Matt Damon, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. [Image courtesy: Netscape Celebrity]

Then came the role that changed everything. Wolverine. He’s played the Clawed One in five movies now (he holds the record for an actor playing the same super ‘hero’ in the most movies.)  The X-Men franchise was hugely popular and found an audience across genres and generations.

He followed up rough and hairy Wolverine with the role of refined and charming Leopold Alexis Elijah Walker Thomas Gareth MountbattenDuke of Albany in the time travel rom-com Kate and Leopold.

Jackman switched gears again, next appearing as a ex-con computer hacker who unwittingly gets involved in John Travolta’s crime circle in Swordfish.

Local advertising for the musical The Boy from...

Local advertising for the musical The Boy from Oz starring Hugh Jackman in New York City, 2004. Cropped from original. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2004 he won a Tony Award for his portrayal of fellow Aussie Peter Allen  in The Boy  from Oz. He hosted the Tonys for three years running (’03, ’04, and ’05) and won an Emmy Award for his emcee work in ’04.

He reprised Wolverine in X2: X-Men United, then starred as Gabriel Van Helsing in the rather ridiculous (and IMO dismal) Van Helsing.

He fared better as one of a pair of dueling magicians (Christian Bale was the other) in The Prestige in 2006. It didn’t hurt the movie that David Bowie added his talents as Nikola Tesla.

Personally, I liked the weird and romantic The Fountain. It was a big, strange, time traveling ride, and I just went with it. I thought Jackman and co-star Rachel Weisz had a lot of movie charisma and, for me at least, it worked. NOT so much for his next film Scoop.

Scoop should have been good. It starred the equally like able Scarlett Johanson and was written and directed by Woody Allen. It is supposed to be a comedy/ mystery hybrid but it isn’t funny and it isn’t suspenseful, and there was very little chemistry between the stars. So sad.

His star took a mediocre swing up again with X-Men: The Last Stand. He was good again as the muscled, intense Wolverine. But not a lot of new territory was covered character wise in the this, the third installment of the franchise.

Then my Hugh Jack admiration took a real dive. He provided the voice for two animated movies. He adopted a strange (southern?) accent to play Memphis, the father emperor penguin to Elijah Wood’s tap dancing Mumble in Happy Feet. Then he played a rat who gets flushed down the pipes in Flushed Away. Human again he played Wyatt Bose in the “thriller” Deception.


Cover of "Australia"

Cover of Australia

Baz Luhrmann’s Australia gave Jackman a chance to star in an epic, big budget, old-fashioned, romantic movie. It is very Luhrmann in style, and the director wisely lets Jackman’s natural Aussie charm shine through the rough and tumble character of the Drover . (Though, for the record, Brandon Walters, as Nullah, steals the show.) With the unforgiving but beautiful outback as the title character, and the  nicely filmed attack of Darwin,  Australia worked.

He was in the ensemble comedy Butter and played a down on his luck boxer in the heart warming Real Steel both of which that came out last fall.

Jackman has several projects upcoming including his role as Jean Valjean in Les Miserables coming out this Christmas.

[Image courtesy Joblo’s Movie Posters]

Thought of the Day 9.20.12 Elizabeth Kenny

“He who angers you conquers you.”

–Elizabeth Kenny

“Sister” Kenny [Image courtesy: Australian War Memorial;]

Elizabeth Kenny was born on this day in Warialda, New South Wales, Australia in 1880. Today is the 132nd anniversary of her birth.

Because her father was an itinerant farmer the family moved often when Elizabeth was growing up. Her education was limited to home-schooling and a variety of small town primary schools. When she was 17 she fell off her horse and broke her wrist. Her father, Michael, took her to the town of  Toowoomba to see Dr. Aeneas McDonnell. Kenny remained in Toowoomba to recover from the injury and grew fascinated with Dr. McDonnell’s medical books, especially those on anatomy, and his model skeleton. It started Kenny on her life long journey in medicine. She made her own model skeleton to study how muscles and bone worked together in the human body.

Elizabeth Kenny as a young woman. [Image courtesy: Minnesota Public]

At 18 she became an unaccredited,  unpaid bush nurse. She later (probably) volunteered at the maternity hospital at Guyra in New South Wales.

There is no official record of formal training or registration as a nurse. She probably learned by voluntary assistance at a small maternity hospital at Guyra, New South Wales. About 1910 Kenny was a self-appointed nurse, working from the family home at Nobby on the Darling Downs, riding on horseback to give her services, without pay, to any who called her. [Elizabeth Kenny, by Ross Patrick, Australian Dictionary of Biography]

Kenny opened St. Canice’s Cottage Hospital in Clifton. She kept in contact with Dr. McDonnell and would often telegraph him when a case stymied her.

In 1911 one such case presented itself. She contacted McDonnell about a new case that stymied her.. a young girl who was crippled, but not from a fall or external trauma. McDonnell replied that it was probably “It sounds like Infantile Paralysis.  There’s no known treatment, so do the best you can.” [Sister Elizabeth Kenny. Australians Documentary Series. 1998. from] Kenny used a common sense approach. She applied hot compresses to the little girl’s spasming muscles. Hot, heavy woolen blankets were applied that help loosen the muscles and relieve the pain. Then she stretched the little girls legs and strengthened the muscles. It worked. The pain abated, the girl (allegedly) asked “Please, I want them rags that well my leg.”

Of the twenty children in the district, the six that Kenny treated survived without complications. [Sister Elizabeth Kenny. Australians Documentary Series. 1998. from]

With the outbreak of World War I Kenny, with a letter of recommendation from Dr. McDonnell, joined the Australian Medical Corps. She worked on hospital ships bringing the wounded home from Europe. She was received a shrapnel wound to the leg while at the front.

She patented her invention of a stretcher that immobilized shock patients during transport, the Sylvia Stretcher, and used the royalties  open a clinic for polio patients in Townsville, Queensland. Here she treated long-term polio and cerebral palsy patients, tossing aside the braces and concentrating on hot baths, passive movements and foments.

Sister Kenny works with a young patient as other doctors, nurses and physiotherapist observe. [Image courtesy: Sister Elizabeth Kenny: Medical Pioneer]

Her “homespun” methods for polio treatment, though effective, were controversial as the  accepted practice was to splint the affected limbs to keep them rigid. That way the stronger muscles wouldn’t pull on the weaker/paralyzed muscles and create deformities. Kenny thought that splinting the limbs would actually produce deformities and increase paralysis. She alternately dismissed, ridiculed or vilified by the medical establishment. Kenny soldiered on, buoyed by the support of parents who witnessed first hand the results her methods were having on their children. Kenny opened clinics in Brisbane and through out Queensland.

The controversy over her methods followed her to England  and the US. Kenny worked in the Minneapolis General Hospital where…

Her methods became widely accepted. She began courses for doctors and physiotherapists from many parts of the world. The Sister Kenny Institute was built in Minneapolis in 1942 and other Kenny clinics were established. [Elizabeth Kenny, by Ross Patrick, Australian Dictionary of Biography]

Kenny in 1950. {Image courtesy: Wikipedia]

She developed Parkinson’s disease and retired to Toowoomba in 1951. Kenny died there of cerebrovascular disease on 30 November 1952.

Sister Kenny’s pioneering principles of muscle rehabilitation became the foundation of physical therapy. Today, Sister Kenny Rehabilitation Services is one of the premier rehabilitation centers in the country, known for its progressive and innovative vision. [Nurses for nurse]

Thought of the Day 9.17.12 Baz Luhrmann

n”I only achieve about 60 per cent of what I’ve dreamed of. Perhaps that’s a good thing – if I did ever get the whole way with anything, I think I’d probably want to destroy it.”

 Baz Luhrmann

On the set of Australia [Image Courtesy: The Play List]

Mark Anthony Luhrmann was born on this day in Sydney, Australia in 1962. He is 50 years old.

His mother, Barbara, owned a dress shop. His father, Leonard, was a farmer and owned a gas station and movie theater in the small town of Herons Creek near where they lived. Barbara and Leonard competed in ballroom dance competitions and Barbara taught ballroom dance at a local studio.

“What kind of kid was I? …Extremely busy. My father was a bit mad, you see. He thought that we had to be the renaissance kids of Herons Creek. We had to learn commando training as well as photography, how to grow corn as well as how to play a musical instrument. We were up at 5 in the morning, and then we just went until we dropped. The town consisted of a gas station, a pig farm, a dress shop and a movie theatre – and we ran them all.” [Baz Luhrmann, as quoted on Baz the Great! fansite]

Growing up the Luhrmann kids helped run the various family businesses. In their free time they rode horses, learned to ballroom dance (of course), and made amateur movies. As a gas jockey at the service station Mark saw a stream of people  pass through. He was invisible to them, and  so was able to observe  their stories unfiltered and unedited for the 5 minutes it took to fill up their tank.  Later, after his parents divorced he eventually found himself in Sydney. Prior to the move he (and his brothers) had to keep their hair closely cropped in a buzz cut, but once in Sydney he was allowed grow it out. When he was teased that his new hair do made him look like a puppet fox on TV, Basil Bush, he embraced the  taunting and officially changed his first name to Bazmark.  In high school he acted in Henry IV, Part 1.  And at 17 he got a role in the Judy Davis, Bryan Brown film The Winter of Our Dreams.

He worked with the Australian Opera to bring in a younger audience and directed and performed in a number of stage productions for the company.

In 1987, while working on an experimental opera, Lake Lost, He met Catherine Martin, a production designer. She became his exclusive production designer and his wife.  (They now have two children.)

Luhrmann mounted productions of La Boheme, A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream and other classics in modern or unusual settings.

[Image Courtesy: NNDB]

His break out film was Strictly Ballroom. The project began as a 30-minute play, but Luhrmann developed it into a full blown motion picture in 1992. The story centers around handsome, spoiled, Scott. He’s a leading ballroom dancer who’s set to win the Pan-Pacific Ballroom Championships. But Scott wants to break the rules and dance his own steps. Enter Fran, a shy, ugly duckling of a girl from the beginner class at his mother’s studio. He teaches her how to dance and along the way she teaches him a thing or two as well. It’s quirky, funny, over the top, and wonderful. Here’s a scene about mid-way through the movie:

It is the first of his Red Curtain Trilogy.  Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! round out the trio. Luhrmann describes a Red Curtain film as having the following attributes:

  1. the audience knows how it will end right from the start;
  2. the storyline is thin and simple;
  3. the world created in the film is one of heightened reality; and
  4. there is to be a specific device driving the story. For Strictly Ballroom it was dance, for Romeo + Juliet it was iambic pentameter, and for Moulin Rouge! it was characters breaking into song.

The success of Strictly Ballroom  brought Luhrmann to the attention of 20th Century Fox  who signed him to a 3-year deal. For second movie Luhrmann gave Romeo + Juliet a modern jump. It starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes and is both fast paced and action packed.  In both style and weirdness factors there is a 15% increase from Ballroom, but still, it works.

The third movie of the set was Moulin Rouge!, a highly stylized musical love story starring Nicole Kidman and Ewan McGregor.

“. . . if you make a film full of risk, studios don’t run towards you to give you $50,000,000 in order to reinvent the post-modern musical, I can tell you. If you do manage to cajole them into doing it and you want to maintain the flag of creative freedom, you better make sure that it pays its bill.”[Baz Luhrmann, IMDB]

It was somehow even bigger and stranger than J + R and Ballroom put together. With an odd combination of modern songs (with modified lyrics) that should not have fit in the 1900 Paris setting, this musical had no business becoming a hit. But it did. Frankly, once Ewan McGregor opened his mouth to sing… nothing else seemed to matter.  (As is evidenced by the bizarre beginning of this clip… Here McGregor’s Christian has snuck into courtesan Satine’s room. He is a penniless writer and he tries to win her over with the strength of his prose [well, in this case it’s Elton John’s lyrics] Kidman feign’s over excitement, hoping to get the shy wordsmith to leave, but then he starts to sing and the movie, and their attraction,  takes off.)

For his next project he brought  La Boheme to Broadway.  The show opened on December 8, 2002 and was declared a “brilliant reworking of Puccini’s masterpiece that appealed to all. [Baz the Great! fansite]

In 2008 he teamed with Kidman again, this time pairing her with Hugh Jackman, in the epic WWII Aussie drama, Australia. It’s beautifully shot. From a cattle drive worthy any Western… to the Japanese attack on Darwin… to the love story, Australia has a lot going for it. (But be warned it is a bit preachy too.)

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His eclectic mix of images and music can make even the every day seem extrordinary…


Luhrmann’s latest project is Gatsby. This time he re-teams with DiCaprio. This stylish take on the Fitzgerald’s classic, The Great Gatsby is due out on Christmas Day. [Don’t buy your tickets just yet… seems like the release date has been pushed back to Summer 2013 — thanks to John for the heads up. ]

Thought of the Day 9.14.12 Sam Neill



“As much as possible, I try to encourage people to use stunt men because that is really their job.”


-Sam Neill


Nigel John Dermot “Sam”  Neill was born on this day in Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland in 1947. He is 65 years old today.

His father, a New Zealander, was stationed in Northern Ireland when Sam was born. The family lived there until Sam was six when they returned to Christ Church.

Sam stuttered badly as a child, and shied away from talking to people. He would refrain from raising his hand because he was afraid that he wouldn’t be able to say anything if he was call on.

“My fear was nothing would come out at all … and I would just be left with a face that was going redder and redder and more purple. The upside of that was I probably learned to listen better than most of my contemporaries… I’m still fairly economic with words and I think that’s a good thing.” [ The British Stammering Association]

He says his stammer gradually became less pronounced. As he  became involved in debate and acting, at University of Canterbury, he gained  self-confidence. The more self-confidence he had, the less he stuttered. Occasionally you can still hear a snippet of it. Neill actively supports several stammering support associations like the British Stammering Association and the Australian Speak Easy Association.

After graduating from university he worked with the New Zealand National Film Unit directing, editing and writing documentaries. He also worked on stage with the New Zealand Players at that time.

His first real film role was in 1977’s Sleeping Dogs, a N.Z. based drama. He got a much wider audience as Harry, the romantic lead in the period drama My Brilliant Career opposite Judy Davis.

Neill in My Brilliant Career [Image Courtesy: HD-Sensei]

After a few television roles he landed quite a different kind of leading role in Omen III: The Final Conflict. Sure, Neill always had a bit of a devilish grin, but …. On a scale of 1 to 10, with My Brilliant Career as a strong 10… I’d give Omen III a weak 6.66.  The Omen brought Neill to the London film making scene under the mentorship of James Mason.

DVD cover for Omen III. Cute little devil, isn’t he? [Image Courtesy: IMBD Movie Database]

For a New Zealander, he played a lot of Soviets. Some were good Russians, like Vassili in Hunt for Red October. Other times he played “A strict Eastern European autocrat” [TalkTalk] as he did in Enigma and Amerika.

While in England he took on the title role in the BBC mini-series Reilly: Ace of Spies, ” The epic adventures of Britain’s greatest spy” [IMDB: Movie Database — Reilly: Ace of Spies]

He teamed up with Academy Award winner Merle Streep for the drama A Cry in the Dark (it was released originally as Evil Angels in Australia and New Zealand.)

Next he starred in the taunt (essentially) three person horror film Dead Calm with newcomer Nicole Kidman and Billy Zane…

“Here Neill played her distressed husband, desperately trying to save the day when nut-job Billy Zane kidnaps both Kidman AND Neill’s boat. It was a superb thriller, boosting its stars big-time…” [TalkTalk]

I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call it “superb”, but…the scene where Neill is stuck inside the quickly sinking second boat (the one Billy Zane was on)  is more than worth the price of a Netflix rental.

Still from Dead Calm. [Image Courtesy: Turner Classic Movies]

In 1993 he was the, angry, odd-man-out in a love triangle between mute Holly Hunter and Harvey Keitel the beautiful made The Piano.

So… if you’ve never heard of any of the movies I’ve written about so far in this blog, I’m betting your heard of this one…Neill played Dr. Alan Grant the Jurassic Park franchise. I thought J.P. the book was wonderful, the movie? Not so much. The dinosaurs were cool, REALLY cool, but the acting, script, and direction was flat — except for my boy Sam. I thought he pulled off the requisite wonder and reluctance needed for the role.

Still from Jurassic Park [Image Courtesy:]

Back on the small screen he’s played  Merlin, Komarovski in Doctor Zhivago, and Cardinal Wolsey in The Tudors.

One of my favorite Sam Neill movies is The Dish. In it “A remote Australian antenna, populated by quirky characters, plays a key role in the first Apollo moon landing.” [IMDB: Movie Data Base]

DVD Cover for The Dish. [Image Courtesy:]

Neill currently  he enjoys relaxing by making wine at his Two Paddocks Winery on New Zealand’s South Island. Here he shows a bit of his trademark deadpan humor in a promotional video for the vineyard.

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