Sam Neill Names His Farm Animals After Celebrity Friends Like His Chicken, Meryl Streep

Actor Sam Neill in Australia
Mark Metcalfe / Getty Images

Born in Northern Ireland and now residing in New Zealand, actor Sam Neill is happy to spend time on his farm and vineyards among the animals as much as he can.

Vulture had a chance to chat with Neill, who is best known these days as the star of Jurassic Park and Peaky Blinders to ask him how he spends his time, and why he loves to commune with his animals on the farm. Neill says he spends some time each year in Sydney, Australia, but heads to the farm in Central Otago, New Zealand when he can to hang with his “menagerie” and tend to his four “little vineyards.”

Neill explained that he has chickens, sheep, goats and pigs, and some have become media stars on his wine labels, social media, and farm website. Recently, he explained that he enjoys Twitter because “you get immediate feedback.”

The Peaky Blinders actor revealed that he likes to name his farm animals, and often he chooses celebrity names for them as a diversion. One of his favorite chickens was named Meryl Streep, but she met an untimely end. Meryl Streep the chicken was sadly killed by a ferret recently, and Neill found her in a pile of feathers one day.

Neill confides that another famously named animal, a ram named Hugo Weaving, also passed recently, but he died happily “on the job.”

The actor says his tightest bond on the farm is with a duck named Charlie Pickering, who is a Muscovy duck. When Charlie’s two companion ducks were killed, she started hanging out with Neill on a daily basis.

“There’s something about that duck! He loves being in my company and I love hanging around with him, too. I have a small lake on the farm, and in the summer I like to swim laps, and he likes to swim laps with me. Or rather, I shouldn’t say ‘he.’ I always thought Charlie was a male, and then she laid eggs one day.”

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Over the next few weeks, Neill says he’s getting more ducks so hopefully, Charlie can have some friends, but if they don’t bond, Charlie will always be number one. In terms of ducks, the actor says that Muscovy ducks are his favorite, adding, “I really like Muscovy ducks; they’re really sociable.”

Neill has a pig that he calls “The Pig” and a cow named Helena Bonham Carter. He says he spends time out in the field with The Pig, and while some people do goat yoga, he does pig yoga.

“So The Pig and I do our stretching routine together these mornings; we take turns while the other coaches.”