Among the best sci-fi movies out there is 1993’s Jurassic Park, as it imagined a world where dinosaurs and humans could collide in a theme park concept gone wrong. Ahead of the classic’s 30th anniversary coming up this summer, one of its stars, Sam Neill, got real about the time while making it when he, along with the cast and crew, “came very close” to dying on set.
Sam Neill just released his memoir Did I Ever Tell You This? this week, where he speaks to his career as an actor and gets candid about his cancer diagnosis. In between the pages of the new book release, Neill shared how he and the Jurassic Park cast almost said their final goodbyes in Hawaii while filming the Steven Spielberg dino movie. In his words (via People):
We almost died in the first few weeks where we were filming on Kauai in the Hawaiian archipelago. 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.
Now that’s intense! As it turns out, Jurassic Park was filming at the same time a Category 4 hurricane called Iniki passed through and destroyed 14,350 homes on Kauai. As Neill reflected in the memoir:
It turned out we came very close… They herded us into a ballroom, all the cast and crew, a few hours before Hurricane Iniki hit us. 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.
For context, a Category 4 hurricane is based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale where Category 1 is the least dangerous and Category 5 is the worst possible. On the hurricane scale, a Category 4 will cause winds between 130 and 156 miles per hour and will cause “catastrophic damage,” per Weather. So for real, the Jurassic Park cast and crew almost actually died while filming one of the most beloved movies of many of our lifetimes.
As Neill recalled, within three to four hours, the hurricane had moved through their area and they found themselves “surrounded by wreckage of our huge resort hotel.” The actor also shared that a few days after the hurricane, the Jurassic Park team flew out to Los Angeles to film some scenes in a studio before returning to Hawaii to film the rest of the footage.
The story is among many anecdotes Sam Neill tells during Did I Ever Tell You This? As Neill recently shared, while he was being treater for stage-three blood cancer, which the actor has been in remission for eight months, he found that writing about his life was helpful to him while he took time off work. Since recently revealing the details of his personal health, his co-star Jeff Goldblum has opened up about the diagnosis, which he knew about “early on.”
The 75-year-old's memoir comes after he, Goldblum and Laura Dern returned to their legacy characters for Jurassic World: Dominion last year to tie up loose ends for their characters and save the world. Sam Neill is currently back to work as his memoir arrived to bookshelves this week.