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As far as celebrities go, Sam Neill is as down to earth as they come.

The Hollywood A-lister donned his good bush shirt for a night out at Central Cinema in Alexandra last week for a screening of Kiwi favourite Hunt for the Wilderpeople

Neill had been patron of the community-owned cinema for “quite a few years now.”

“Somebody asked me probably the only cinematic actor in the area, I don’t know,” he joked.

When not working at his “day job”, Neill swaps the glitter and glamour of Hollywood for the simple life on his vineyard and farm, Two Paddocks, in Earnscleugh, near Alexandra.

But regardless of where he finds himself, his passion for cinematic arts remains.

“I think every community like this, and towns, needs a cinema,” Neill said.

“It needs somewhere people mix artists; a place in the community.

“Here in Alexandra there’s quite a lot of artistic people .. it’s important, because in every community we need the arts, whether it’s theatre small here for the opera some theatre, some music.

“The value of arts are very rich here.”

to the cinema in the current Covid climate was something that should not be taken for granted, Neill said.

“The community in post-Covid times, and I say that in inverted commas because anything can happen, it’s almost nowhere in the world apart from Australia where you can come and sit by someone and watch a movie.

“The communal experience we’re so very lucky, so very fortunate. It’s very rare.”

While best known for his portrayal of paleontologist Dr Alan Grant in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III, it was his role as Hec Faulkner in Taika Waititi’s Hunt for the Wilderpeople which had him venturing off the vineyard.

The film was dear to his heart, Neill said.

“It’s a film I’m very, very fond of.

“I don’t get asked to do things in New Zealand very often,” he said.

Meet and greet .. Actor and Central Cinema patron Sam Neill talks to cinema-goers at Central Cinema in Alexandra last week. PHOTO: SHANNON THOMSON