Sam Neill and Heather Mitchell discuss their breakup and living with cancer


Long-time friends Heather Mitchell and Sam Neill shared an image promoting each other's memoirs last year. Photo /@samneilltheprop
Long-time friends Heather Mitchell and Sam Neill shared an image promoting each other's memoirs last year. Photo /@samneilltheprop
Jurassic Park star Sam Neill and Australian actress Heather Mitchell have grilled each other over the end of their brief relationship.

The pair discussed their short-lived stint together in a wide-ranging new interview for Daily Telegraph’s Stellar magazine.

During their discussion, the two admitted they once briefly dated in 1985 after meeting via their mutual agent. Mitchell has had an extensive TV, film and stage career in Australia, while Neill has had an equally prolific output, including appearing in numerous Hollywood hits.

Neill, 76, and Mitchell, 66, have remained friends over the years, and during the chat seemed confused about the nature of their relationship and why exactly it ended.

“Here’s a more important question: why did we break up?” Neill asked Mitchell, saying the duo had “never discussed it” before.

“Well, I’ve got my version, and you have yours,” Mitchell responded, adding, “I’ve always wanted to [discuss it]. I think I did something that upset you. I can’t remember what it was.”

“‘Well, I remember it differently. We were both invited to a party and you were upset with me for some reason,” Neill replied.

“So I turn up thrilled to see you – and you wouldn’t talk to me. You wouldn’t even look at me,” he added. The actor says he left the party and flew to England and the pair never ironed out the upset.

 Mitchell says she was unaware he had left. “I thought you were mad with me… we might still be together if we had talked about this earlier,” she admitted.

The article reveals weeks later Neill sent Mitchell a painting that symbolised their miscommunication.

Mitchell has been married to cinematographer Martin McGrath for more than 30 years, while Neill was married to Noriko Watanabe between 1989 and 2017.


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Common ground

In the piece the two shared their common ground, forming a ‘cancer club’ with two other friends as each battled cancer in recent years.

Mitchell was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and again in 2022 while Neill was diagnosed with angioimmunoblastic T cell lymphoma, a form of blood cancer, in 2022.

Neil told Entertainment Tonight in March his cancer has been in remission for two years and he is “feeling great.” He said in the Stellar piece he believes the disease is a good reminder that you’re not “dying from it” but rather “living with it”.

“It will kill me one day, but we’ve all got to die,” he openly shared.

Both actors recently released memoirs where they speak about their experiences. Neill’s memoir Did I Ever Tell You This? was released in March last year, while Mitchell’s memoir, Everything and Nothing came out two months later, in May.

Meanwhile, Sam Neill has been busy with his new show Apples Never Fall, in which he stars with Annette Bening in the drama series that is adapted from Liane Moriarty’s New York Times bestselling novel of the same name.

He also runs his successful winery Two Paddocks from his farm in Central Otago, with his wines picking up accolades from consumers and critics worldwide. He recently gave MiNDFOOD a tour of the farm, introducing his menagerie of animals.

This week he shared a video clip of manure on his farm, saying it was part of the secret to the success of his wine, having recently picked up ‘Sustainable Vineyard of the Year’ at the Aotearoa NZ Organic Wine Awards.


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