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The actor Sam Neill's perspective

Sam talks about life at school

I think I was very quiet in class, I just never said anything I didn't put my hand up or participate in things particularly, in case, you know, when I put my hand up I wasn't able to say anything which would be mortifying, so I was probably about the quietest person in the class I suspect. My fear was nothing would come out at all and inevitably because that was what I feared, nothing would come out 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 you know as I didn't have any choice so, I think I'm a good listener now and I think, probably, I'm still fairly economic with words and I think that's a good thing.

The importance of gaining confidence

I don't know what I did to change the stutter, I think I just forgot it, by degrees and in part I always thought that actually... I was sent on one of those, kind of, outward bounds things where you had to run across logs or fall in the river and drown, and that did a lot for my physical self- confidence. At about the same time I was kind of doing better at school and I was learning to debate and I was involved in drama and plays and so on. I was becoming kind of a confident person and I suspect that all of that kind of worked on the stuttering and vice versa, and so there was no particular game plan, it just sort of happened organically.

Sam talks about Peter Jackson

It's odd, you know, I know a great many people who still stutter very badly and one person who's clearly very successful is Peter Jackson, who directed Lord of the Rings. Peter stutters quite badly but I hadn't... it was only the other night I was actually having dinner with Peter and I've known him for years and years and it just occurred to me, actually Peter is a stutterer and it's something that, you know, there's so many other fascinating things going on with Peter, this incredible mind that's going all over the show and coming up with extraordinary sort of ideas all the time that it's sort of the last thing you notice.


  • Sam Neill, the New Zealand actor, has starred in many popular films. These included Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park 3 where he played Dr Alan Grant. Most recently he was seen on BBC 2 as Cardinal Wolsey in The Tudors.
  • Sam talks here about his stammering.