Sam Neill's straight and narrow career

Last updated 15:05 02/08/2014

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Actor Sam Neill says he's "always been absurdly straight and narrow".

The comment was made in response to a question about Neill's recent work playing a police officer and a former officer in shows in Britain and Australia.

Neill plays hard nut cop Chief Inspector Chester Campbell in post-World War 1 gangster series Peaky Blinders, the second series of which is about to start in Britain.

Set in Birmingham, and compared to US series Boardwalk Empire, the British drama is named after a gang whose members used to sew razor blades into the peaks of their caps.

Neill's character is a Northern Irishman sent to the then-industrial powerhouse by Winston Churchill to put down disorder and contain the risk of a communist uprising.

Meanwhile, in Australia, Neill has been starring in the series Old School as retired cop Ted McCabe, who ends up making common cause with retired crim Lennie Cahill, played by Bryan Brown.

Neill was asked in The Australian whether the fact he was playing the two roles meant he was hitting the straight and narrow as he matured.

"I've always been absurdly straight and narrow," Neill replied.

"My friend the late, great and very gay (actor) John Hargreaves used to make a point of kissing me in public just to see me squirm."

Neill described CI Campbell from Peaky Blinders as a beast of a man, but also sad, lonely and delusional. "Not my kind of geezer at all. But from an actor's point of view, absolute bliss."

He also commented that coming from the most isolated and remote corner of the world he was "hopelessly addicted to travel", although only for work.

"My idea of the perfect holiday is to go home to my vineyards," Neill, who owns the Two Paddocks vineyard in Central Otago, said.

Asked for his political thoughts of the moment, Neill said he was "completely baffled as to why successive governments  in Australia insist on treating a few boat people with such evident cruelty".

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