Woman’s Day (Australia)
SAM NEIL'S LOVE TRIANGLE
The Jurassic Park star split from his wife of 27 years – on the eve of his 70th birthday
There was no hiding Sam Neill’s very complicated love-life when both his secret new girlfriend and his wife Noriko attended a star-studded party at Sydney’s Pier One earlier this month to celebrate his birthday.
There were tense negotiations leading up to the glamorous party – which was a joint 70th birthday celebration for both Sam and his close friend, actor Bryan Brown – as it was the first time the two women had come face to face.
“Noriko insisted on going, even though they’ve separated,” reveals one guest, who adds the very public introduction of Sam’s new partner, fashion rep Rebeccah Mahne, was the talk of the party.
Australian Crawl singer James Reyne introduced Sam to Rebeccah in February 2016 – at the same party where the actor met Byron Bay store owner Miranda Cummings, who he was seen kissing on the Gold Coast in October last year.
His marriage has been rumoured to be in trouble ever since the passionate clinch with Miranda was revealed – but it is Rebeccah who he has been secretly romancing since his relationship with Noriko ended, even taking her to Two Paddocks, his New Zealand vineyard, recently.
“Anyone who knows Sam knows that’s pretty serious – the vineyard is his haven, his sanctuary, so to share it with Rebeccah says a lot,” explains a friend, who says Sam seems utterly besotted by the darkhaired Sydney businesswoman.
Noriko, 52, is said to be “heartbroken” over the split with Sam, who she met in 1989 when he starred in Dead Calm, with the pair falling in love as the Japaneseborn make-up artist spent hours on set with Sam.
“She’s known about Rebeccah for a while but she thought Sam would eventually come back to her, so she’s absolutely shattered now that they’ve separated,” reveals the friend.
“There was more than a bit of tension at the party that night.”
Noriko and Rebeccah did not speak on the night, and Sam seemed happy to spend time with his celebrity friends. His girlfriend spent much of the evening smoking in an outdoor area well away from Sam’s wife.
With Sam and Bryan co-hosting the party, the guest list read like an Australian Who’s Who and included Jack Thompson, Jimmy and Jane Barnes, David and Lisa Campbell, Andrew Denton and Jennifer Byrne, Simon Baker and Rebecca Rigg, David Wenham, Pat and Lara Rafter, Wendy Harmer, Justine Clarke, George Gregan and Tex Perkins.
The Cupid in Sam’s life, James Reyne, arrived with his new bride Leanne Woolrich, carrying walking sticks as presents for the two actors turning 70 – but one guest joked that Sam may prefer a “flak jacket” if he got caught between Noriko and Rebeccah.
HOLDING ON TO HOPE
Sam and Noriko have one daughter together, Elena, 26, while Sam also has a son, Tim, 34, from a previous relationship with NZ actress Lisa Harrow. He also shares stepdaughter Maiko, 35, with Noriko.
“Noriko was determined to share the night with Sam, as she is still extremely close to many of their friends,” says one guest. “She and Sam have spent 27 years together, and you can’t just rub that out all of a sudden.
“I know they’ve had their ups and downs, but on the surface it really did seem like a great marriage, even if Sam tested her sometimes with his wellknown appreciation of smart, strong and independent women.
“Noriko never thought it would come to this.”
But the actor has been increasingly distancing himself from his marriage for months. In May this year, he and Rebeccah were spotted together on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, where they attended James and Leanne’s wedding.
“We all feel for Noriko, because she’s always held onto the hope that the marriage would get back on track, and she’s the sweetest, gentlest woman,” says the guest. “I think she’s still a bit dazed by it all.”
Of course, now that Sam has made the first step towards finalising his relationship with Noriko, the couple have to divide up the $25 million fortune they have built up on the back of Sam’s incredible 46-year movie career starring in everything from My Brilliant Career and Evil Angels to The Piano and the Jurassic Park franchise.
Sam’s Australian rep at Shanahan Management did not respond when asked to comment on the marriage split.