EXCLUSIVE: Sam Neill avoided learning the ending of his new show The Twelve

"I thought it much more interesting to just play it as someone who just doesn’t know what the story is."
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Looking at Sam Neill in character as Sydney silk Brett Colby for the new Foxtel series The Twelve, it’s hard to believe the 74-year-old actor has never played a lawyer.

WATCH BELOW: The Twelve | Trailer | Foxtel Original

“This is a first for me,” Neill tells WHO.

“I think secretly if I had the brains and the wherewithal and the aptitude to study, I might have, in another life, ended up as a barrister. I always kind of liked the idea. When you’re in court and you’re on the bench, there is a sort of performative aspect to being a defence lawyer or a prosecutor.

“The case you’re putting forward needs to be persuasive, but it also needs to be conveyed in a way that a jury is going to go along with you. I think I would have enjoyed being a barrister, but it wasn’t to be and I ended up acting.”

Well, it looks like that turned out alright for him…

(Credit: Foxtel)

So, what drew you to this role?

I just found the script really compelling. I was interested to know what happens next. That’s always a very critical thing when you’re reading a project. If you want to know what happens next, then that’s telling you something. I read up to about episode six and signed on. I thought, “I don’t want to know what happens in the end,” because you don’t in life, and I thought it much more interesting to just play it as someone who just doesn’t know what the story is. So, I was just as surprised at how things turn out as the audience will be when they see the show.

It’s a fantastic and huge cast. Can you tell me a little bit about the dynamics there and who you worked with?

As a barrister, I didn’t have a lot to do with the jury. They are mostly sitting there listening to me and nodding or shaking their heads – depending on how well I’m doing. But there’s some really interesting people in there. There’s a young Aboriginal actor in there called Ngali Shaw – someone you could keep an eye on, he’s terrific. My main work was with Kate Mulvany, who I think is just extraordinary. She’s very, very talented, and a great writer and wonderful actor. My main work was locking horns with Marta [Dusseldorp], which was a great deal of fun.

“There’s some really interesting people in there,” Sam said of his fellow castmates. (Credit: Foxtel)

You’ve been away from home, your winery, Two Paddocks, and your beloved pig for a while now…

It’s been such a weird couple of years. I thought I’d be able to shoot the show here and go home for a week or two at a time. But it got so complicated with quarantines and everything else, it did keep me away. Prior to that I did a film in Italy and another film on the Gold Coast, and Jurassic, so I’ve been very lucky unlike most actors who’ve been doing it really tough these past couple of years. I was lucky enough to have a lot of work and it’s been a very productive two years for me – that’s an unusual story these days.

Brendan Cowell and Pallavi Sharda also starred in the project. (Credit: Foxtel)

Has that disruption made you think about what projects you take on?

I love acting, I love going to work. This was a great big cast full of people I liked. So, to turn up and have a day with these people was really fantastic and I do enjoy being on sets. I’ve been doing it for a long, long time now and I’m very comfortable on a film set. Having said that, it’s actually been a pretty hectic couple of years and I’m not planning on going to work for a while, but [to] take a break.

You can stream The Twelve on Foxtel Now from June 21, 2022, live and on demand with a 10-day FREE trial. START FREE TRIAL.


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