Actor Sam Neill has announced he is being treated for stage 3 blood cancer and will undergo chemotherapy drugs for the rest of his life.
The Jurassic Park star who was born in Omagh, Co Tyrone, but moved to New Zealand as a child has made the revelation in his new memoir due out on Tuesday.
First reported in The Guardian, the actor opens his new book, Did I Ever Tell You This? with the line: “The thing is, I’m crook. Possibly dying. I may have to speed this up.”
He then goes on to write about how he first experienced swollen glands during the press tour for the latest Jurassic Park film, Dominion, last March.
Shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T-cell lymphoma and received an unsuccessful round of chemotherapy.
However, he is now cancer free after beginning a new chemotherapy drug which he will receive monthly for the rest of his life.
“I can’t pretend that the last year hasn’t had its dark moments,” he told the newspaper.
“But those dark moments throw the light into sharp relief, you know, and have made me grateful for every day and immensely grateful for all my friends. Just pleased to be alive.”
The Peaky Blinders star said his new book was born out of him having “nothing to do” and his writing was “giving him a reason to live”.
“I found myself with with nothing to do,” he said.
“And I’m used to working. I love working. I love going to work. I love being with people every day and enjoying human company and friendship and all these things. And suddenly I was deprived of that.
“I never had any intention to write a book,” he said.
"But as I went on and kept writing, I realised it was actually sort of giving me a reason to live and I would go to bed thinking, ‘I’ll write about that tomorrow … that will entertain me.’”
While born in Northern Ireland, Neill firmly identifies as a New Zealander and in October last year, received a knighthood from the country for his services to acting.
“Greatly honoured today by the Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro at Govt House Auckland. Redesignated K.N.Z.M. (Knight),” he said at the time on social media.
The actor’s great-grandfather was also born in Northern Ireland before moving to New Zealand in 1860. At the time of his birth, his father was serving with the Royal Irish Fusiliers.
His new book is set to explore the seven years he spent in Omagh as a child, as well as his later life in New Zealand.
In an interview ten years ago, he famously compared Northern Ireland to the ‘Garden of Eden’ in his memories of his time here.
"I would range freely around the beautiful countryside, and I vividly remember too, going with my brother to Tyrella beach - one of the greatest in the British Isles - and fishing for hours on the rocks; no one was there; it was ours."
Despite his diagnosis, the New Zealander is not short on upcoming work with production set to begin on his new film Apples Never Fall shortly.
He will also appear in thriller The Portable Door which is out in April.