There’s plenty of Anzac-related entertainment to be had these days, but Sam Neill hopes you’ll find his family’s story as interesting as he does
Having poured his heart, soul and family history into a new documentary, actor Sam Neill hopes audiences don’t already have “Gallipoli fatigue”.
After Channel Nine’s highly anticipated production underperformed, Neill says, “I don’t think we’ll know until we see the next one, Foxtel’s Deadline Gallipoli.”
“We were aware when we started that there were a lot of Gallipoli productions going on. That, in part, is why it’s a much broader canvas than simply Gallipoli.
“But I suspect maybe there will be some sort of Gallipoli fatigue. It is a familiar story. That’s why we’re doing something that is entirely different.”
It’s been 100 years since the mission that saw Australian and New Zealand troops land in Turkey, and Why Anzac looks at how the two countries are now inextricably bound by those events.
Coming from a long line of soldiers, Neill’s interest in the subject is personal and the documentary collaboration with director Kriv Stenders ( Red Dog) sees him trace his forebears’ footsteps.
“Obviously I have strong feelings, but I come from a very, very militaristic family,” he says.
“My grandfather served in India and Tibet, for instance. My great grandfather was part of the conquest of Burma (Myanmar) in the 1880s, and also went to Kabul. It didn’t end well then and it’s not going to end well now. There are lessons to be learned.
“You’d have to press me really hard to find a war that I could justify, apart from the Second World War. My father was there. There was a clear and present danger.
“The whole destabilisation of the Middle East is a calamity that we are living with on a daily basis now.”
Sam Neill at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra for ABC show