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Interview: Actor Sam Neill talks ‘The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box’

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The Chico Movie Examiner recently conducted an over-the-phone interview with actor Sam Neill about his role in “The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box,” which releases to limited theaters on Friday, Jan. 10.

The film, based on G.P. Taylor’s novel “Mariah Mundi and the Midas Box,” tells the story of young Mariah Mundi (Aneurin Barnard), whose world gets turned upside down when his parents (played by Ioan Gruffudd and Keeley Hawes) go missing and his younger brother (played by Xavier Atkins) gets kidnapped. Mariah teams up with Will Charity (Michael Sheen) to embark on a journey that lands them at the Prince Regent Hotel, which is operated by Otto Luger (Neill).

It’s discovered that Otto is the one responsible for the kidnapping of Mariah’s brother, and he might have also found the secret lair that contains the Midas Box. With this box, anyone can turn anything into gold. And if it falls into the hands of Otto, bad things will happen.

Neill talked about his role as Otto; the possibility of returning to the “Jurassic Park” franchise; his love for wine; and more. Check out the full interview below.

David Wangberg: There’s a quote that you said over 20 years ago in reference to your Carl Fitzgerald character in “Death in Brunswick.” And that quote was, “Of all the characters I’ve played, I think I have more in common with [Carl] than I do with “Reilly: Ace of Spies.” I was wondering, even though Otto [Luger] is a villain, what characteristics do you have in common with him?

Sam Neill: Did you see “Death in Brunswick?”

DW: No, I did not.

SN: [laughs] OK. [Carl] is a kind of hapless fool. I think the only thing I have in common with this particular character would be the beard. [Otto] is a very, very bad man, and I, myself, am a paragon of goodness.

DW: Out of all the characters you’ve played over the years, which is the one with whom you would say you have the most in common, and which is the one with whom you have the least in common?

SN: Well, I’ve certainly got nothing in common with this guy, apart from an affection for a good neck tie.

I don’t know. I don’t think anything I’ve played has been remotely connected to myself, apart from when I’ve been playing myself in a documentary. Hopefully, every character you play is vivid and complete unto themselves. Inevitably, there will be something of yourself that kind of bleeds into the character to some extent, but I hope they live and breathe on their own.

DW: This is based off the first “Mariah Mundi” book, and a lot of successful, cinematic franchises have been based on books as of recent years – including “Harry Potter”; “Twilight”; and even “Jurassic Park.” If you could place yourself in another franchise aside from “Jurassic Park,” of which one would you like to be in at least one film?

SN: Hmm… can you give me any more franchises?

DW: Oh, there’s “Harry Potter,” “The Chronicles of Narnia,” “Twilight,” “Indiana Jones,” “Star Wars”…

SN: I think they’ve all pretty much done their dash. Although, “Star Wars” is coming back, isn’t it?

DW: Yeah, “Star Wars” is coming back.

SN: With J.J. Abrams. Well, I like J.J. I’d like to work with him again. “Star Wars” would be cool.

DW: Yeah, you guys did “Alcatraz” together.

SN: That’s correct.

DW: There’s a moment in the film where you narrate the tale of King Midas. If someone was to make a documentary about the career of Sam Neill, who would you like to have narrate it?

SN: [laughs] Wow! That’s a left-field question. Let’s see. Who would I like to narrate it? Wow! I think Richard Burton. I think Richard Burton’s got the sonority for it, you know?

DW: Continuing with that, if someone was to make a documentary about you, what would be the one thing that they should include in it?

SN: Oh, my affection for wine probably. That’s my other life, which is diametrically opposed to what I do as an actor. I’m a winemaker, and I find that increasingly enthralling.

DW: You do acting, and you do winemaking. With this being called “The Adventurer,” do you also consider yourself an adventurer of some kind or a risk taker of some kind?

SN: I’m not sure about the risk taking, but I do think that my life has been a sort of very unlikely adventure, and I never expected to be a working actor – let alone, an actor that works regularly on film and television. That wasn’t something I anticipated at all. I counted it up the other day – I’ve worked in about 35 different countries, which is phenomenal. Coming from a small town in a small country, this is beyond any kind of reason. It’s beyond my wildest expectations. I never thought that would happen, and it’s been greatly satisfying and, really, an adventure.

DW: Had you read the “Mariah Mundi” books before doing this film?

SN: No, I hadn’t. They’re kid’s books.

DW: Well, I thought you could have read them to your children, or maybe just…

SN: No, they’re too big for that stuff.

DW: [laughs] There’s a part in the film where your character is having a rare steak, and he says, “A little blood does liven up the parrot.” What is the one thing in your life that kind of livens you up, even if it’s just a little, tiny bit of it?

SN: Conversation [and] stimulating company. And my affection for wine goes beyond opening a bottle. I think wine has immensely enriched my life, because I’m enthralled with the soil and the seasons and the beautiful sort of rich cycle. But also, the end product is so much… I love company; I love being with friends; I love conversation with a glass of wine. So, yeah, probably a glass of wine is the thing that starts me more than anything else. I sound like a terrible alcoholic; I don’t think I’m really [an] alcoholic. But I think, as a part of the fabric of one’s life, the one element that you can introduce to a life – that I introduced to the mechanics of my life – is a glass of wine. A glass of wine goes a long way. [laughs]

DW: [laughs] I wasn’t going to assume you were an alcoholic or anything, because I do like wine myself, and my girlfriend is a wino, too. She loves wine.

SN: That’s my kind of girl.

DW: [laughs] Actually, I wanted to squeeze in one other question. I’m pretty sure you’ve been asked a lot about “Jurassic Park” and the new one that’s coming out [“Jurassic World”]. Even though you are not in it, if [the filmmakers] were to call you up and say, “Hey can you come in for a part in this, or even a cameo appearance?” would you still do it?

SN: Look, you never say no. I think there’s a whole new cast and a whole new look at things, and I think that’s great. As I said, I’d never say no, but I wish them… well, I’m sure it’s going to be great, but they don’t need me.

This concludes the interview, but the Chico Movie Examiner would like to thank Sam Neill for taking the time to talk about “The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box.”

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