Sam Neill Recalls How 'Jurassic Park' Cast 'Came Very Close' to Dying When Hurricane Hit Set

"I was down on the beach with Laura Dern, who asked me: 'Sam, do you think we might die today?' " the actor wrote in his memoir Did I Ever Tell You This?

Sam Neill Jurassic Park - 1993 Director: Steven Spielberg Amblin/Universal USA Scene Still Scifi Jurassic Park
Photo: Amblin/Universal/Kobal/Shutterstock

The stars of Jurassic Park face constant danger onscreen, but according to Sam Neill in his new memoir Did I Ever Tell You This?, they had a near-death experience filming the first Jurassic Park movie in Hawaii in September 1992.

"We almost died in the first few weeks where we were filming on Kauai in the Hawaiian archipelago," Neill, 75, wrote. "One morning we were told to stay back at the hotel and expect a hurricane later in the day. I was down on the beach with Laura Dern, who asked me: 'Sam, do you think we might die today?' As these massive black clouds approached over the Pacific I found I had to tell her that in all honesty the answer was yes, I thought we might."

"It turned out we came very close," he added.

The New Zealander recalled how the cast and crew tried to stay safe during the hurricane, named Iniki.

"They herded us into a ballroom, all the cast and crew, a few hours before Hurricane Iniki hit us," he wrote. "Iniki was a Category 4 hurricane and it absolutely wrecked the island, including all our sets. Six people died, and it caused more than $3 billion worth of damage."

Did I Ever Tell You This?, by Sam Neill

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According to the Red Cross via CNN, the storm also damaged or destroyed 14,350 homes on Kauai.

"I think that within three or four hours it had moved on, leaving us surrounded by the wreckage of our huge resort hotel," Neill recalled in the book. "I'm pretty sure that is why we were spared a large tidal surge through our ballroom, which was just a couple of meters above sea level, a surge that would have probably drowned us all."

After a few days, Neill and the Jurassic team flew back to Los Angeles to continue filming in a studio before heading back to Hawaii to do some more scenes on the Big Island.

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Neill admitted he had a bit of imposter syndrome while working on that first Jurassic movie.

"The impostor syndrome would be enhanced later on when we were out and about promoting the movie; the more or less official line from Universal Pictures was that, with Jurassic Park, they had set out to prove that they, with Spielberg, could make huge blockbusters without 'movie stars,' " he wrote. "This was true enough, but I think it slightly irked us, the actors, to be reminded from time to time we were not real 'stars.' "

Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum
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Neill wrote that costars Dern, 56, and Jeff Goldblum went on to become his "lifelong friends." He also called Chris Pratt, who joined the franchise in 2015's Jurassic World, "absolutely fantastic as a hero."

"He's really thought about what it means to be an action hero," Neill wrote. "It's a real job. I never did that on the Jurassic films. On the contrary, I thought I was playing an ordinary guy who finds himself in a heap of trouble and muddles his way to survival."

Neill returned for two more Jurassic installments, but he doesn't think the movies impacted his career in a major way.

"It was great to be in such a success, and I owe so much to Spielberg and everyone involved, but I don't think the Jurassic series made any seismic shift in my career," the two-time Emmy nominee wrote. "I didn't become Mr. Action Hero or anything, though there is a weird action-man figurine from 1992 in which a muscular version of me wears peculiar underpants."

Did I Ever Tell You This? is out now.

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