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Hollywood star Sam pops in to talk wine

HOLLYWOOD star Sam Neill is to visit his ancestral Irish home to promote wines from his New Zealand vineyard.

Neill (65) -- star of such blockbusters as The Hunt For Red October, Jurassic Park and The Piano -- is to visit Ireland next week to showcase products from his Two Paddocks winery.

He will visit Dublin, Cork and Northern Ireland -- and has also agreed to be guest speaker at a Network Cork event next Wednesday.

Network Cork president Rebecca Birchall said they were thrilled that the star had agreed to attend.

"We are so thrilled that Sam can join us -- he is a very brave man venturing into a room full of 100 Cork businesswomen.

"But we are really looking forward to giving him a great welcome, learning about his own unique business story and sampling some of his wonderful New Zealand wines," she said.

While raised in New Zealand, the actor was actually born in Tyrone where his father, a New Zealand-born officer serving in the Irish Guards, was stationed.

His family also has strong ancestral links to Ireland -- and he recently secured an Irish passport.

The star admitted he is really looking forward to his Irish visit.

"I got an Irish passport -- I love it. It is the best thing in my pocket," said the actor, who made his breakthrough with The Omen III in 1981, a role he was recommended for by his friend, James Mason.

After losing out to Timothy Dalton to succeed Roger Moore as James Bond, he earned critical acclaim for the TV series Reilly -- Ace of Spies and went on to become one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood.