Entertainment Celebrity Sam Neill becomes the unlikely king of Twitter
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Sam Neill becomes the unlikely king of Twitter

Sam Neill with pet pig
Sam Neill with his special pet pig (Twitter followers will know the animal's name.) Photo: Twitter
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A few months ago a friend sent me a semi-hysterical text message, all in capital letters, asking whether I had seen the latest tweet by Sam Neill.

The post in question contained this video of Neill’s young grandson being unceremoniously obliterated by a fit ball.

Since discovering it, my friend and I have watched this clip upwards of 30 times.

We watch it when we need a little lift.

It’s become a moment of such joy that a screenshot of the toddler mid-launch is now the caller ID photo that comes up when we phone one another.

Sam Neill, whose latest movie Palm Beach (with Bryan Brown and Greta Scacchi) premieres on August 8, has been my favourite thing on Twitter for a while now, ever since he posted this picture and caption:

Over the years, more and more people have been cottoning on to the majesty of the 71-year-old star’s online presence.

Neill started tweeting in 2011 and his following has more than doubled in the past two years.

The Hunt for the Wilderpeople star now has an impressive 64K+ followers on Instagram and 310K+ on Twitter.

Neill tweets as @TwoPaddocks – a nod to his Central Otago wine label, his current passion.

“It is a ridiculously time- and money-consuming business,” he told The West of winemaking.

“I would not do it if it was not so satisfying and fun, and it gets me pissed once in a while”.

His Twitter bio describes him as “proprietor of TwoPaddocks – in the cheering-up business since 1993. Also seen acting on occasion.”

He has said he named his farm animals after his friends as an “insurance policy”, so he’s not tempted to eat them.

“It doesn’t always end well,” he told Vulture.

“Meryl Streep was killed by a ferret recently … Hugo Weaving was another unfortunate end, but he died happy. He was a ram. He was doing what rams do — he fell off the back of a female sheep.”

Neill has a particularly close friendship with a pig named Angelica and a duck named Charlie Pickering.

Videos of him for walks with Charlie, reciting positive affirmations and belatedly documenting the duck’s first flight have been some of his most popular posts.

Even Hollywood actor Ryan Reynolds fell in love with the pair.

Neill’s Twitter account is a refreshing contrast from many celebrity social media feeds, which tend to be littered of selfies with other famous faces and thinly veiled sponsored posts (although to be fair, he does post the occasional celeb selfie but gets away with it thanks to the witty captions).

Once in a while, the New Zealand native opens up a spontaneous Q&A session, announcing, “the clinic is open, ask any question.” His responses are rather glorious:

He also riffs off the fact people constantly mistake Sam Neill for Hugo Weaving.

Neill told The Cut he only started tweeting regularly after pressure from the guys in the Two Paddocks office. They decided the actor needed to take his blog musings to Twitter.

“They told me that social media was important,” he said.

“I’d never heard of it. I started Facebook, but I didn’t like it at all. It filled me with existential dread.

“But I found I enjoyed Twitter. The economy of 140 characters was really appealing; every tweet was like a lame haiku”.

He also told Vulture he enjoys the “immediate feedback” on Twitter.

“You know what people are enjoying. I’ve worked out that what I enjoy and what I find funny is what people enjoy, too.”

And it’s certainly true the people are picking up what Neill is putting down.

Writers at BuzzFeed and The Cut have described Neill as “the only thing keeping me on Twitter right now,” and “the best possible use of Twitter”.

It’s a delightful glimpse of a fellow living his best life, making wonderful wine in an idyllic setting and finding simple joys in nature.

It’s the ultimate antidote to all the angst and noise on Twitter.

“There’s a lot to be angry about in the world at the moment,” Neill told Vulture.

“I used to do a lot more angry posts. But there are enough angry voices as it is! What’s amusing me today? It’s mostly my duck.”

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