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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The actor, the artist, her life and her fantasies

Admit it. You’ve thought about having sex with Sam Neill too.

1 I dream of Sam Neill when I go to bed, 1986. National Gallery of Victoria. © Davida Allen. 2 Lovely Sam from 'Sam Neill Suite', 1986. Griffith University Art Collection. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by the artist 2007. Photograph: Carl Warner. © Davida Allen. 3 Domestic Woman from 'Sam Neill Suite', 1986. Griffith University Art Collection. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program by the artist 2007. Photograph: Carl Warner. © Davida Allen. 4 Chair, 1989. National Gallery of Victoria. © Davida Allen. 5 Baby, 1989. National Gallery of Victoria. © Davida Allen. All Davida Allen.

No matter how strident one’s feminism, it’s possible to watch My Brilliant Career (1979) and fail to comprehend how Judy Davis’ Sybylla could have rejected Harry – the smoking-hot love interest played by Sam Neill. He smouldered again as the rakish lead in the 1983 series Reilly, Ace of Spies, becoming the object of countless sexual fantasies. For Davida Allen, at home with four young children, watching Sam on telly on Sunday nights was an escape, a delicious ritual. As an artist whose work is always unabashed and usually autobiographical – ‘wifehood, motherhood, womanhood, parenthood: all the female hoods’ – Allen created a series that flagrantly broke the unwritten rule that ‘nice girls’ (and women artists) should keep their desires to themselves. The Sam Neill suite is revered by Allen’s admirers for its evocation of the way that the frustrations and constraints of family life can co-exist with intense, unshakeable love for spouse and children – and sexy actors to boot.

That’s one to get your heart started! You are 9 stories away from seeing your love score...

Choose your next love story

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency