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Heartfelt interview was no act for Sam Neill

Melvin Hunter | 01.09.2002

The actor Sam Neill and his wife Noriko recently gave an interview to BSA for a video that is in production, called "Famous Lost Words".

Picture of Kym Borrett, Phyllis Foundis, and Sam Neill in Prague. Sam generously gave some of his time to talk on camera about his childhood stammer and the incredible pain he and wife Noriko felt when they discovered that their children both developed a stammer between the ages of two and three.

From the Prague set of Doctor Zhivago, the remake of Pasternak's epic novel, Sam talked in depth about his feelings as he watched his daughter struggle with certain words and of the immense relief they all felt when within a year of therapy his daughter no longer had a struggle with words.

He described memories of his own childhood when he struggled with words and the various methods he would employ to avoid certain speaking situations. As he says, "luckily, I just grew out of it in my teenage years, but today you can get help from a speech and language therapist and avoid all those years of pain, as we did with my daughter, and the results have been miraculous."

He spoke of the many successful people he has met over the years, some of them close friends and colleagues who stammer, and how for them a struggle with words has not diminished their ability to be successful at their chosen careers.

The BSA has thanked Sam and Noriko for their generous help with our project work for young people who stammer. Sam said with a warm smile at the end of our interview: "It's okay to stammer, we should all stammer. I love stammerers."

His warm and very sincere interview will appear in the Famous Lost Words film, to feature famous people from both the past and present who have lived with a stammer and very successfully overcome it.

The remake of Doctor Zhivago is scheduled for screening later this year.
Reporting by Melvin Hunter

From the Autumn 2002 edition of Speaking Out