Sam Neill in Uncharted territory with new series

He was behind the camera before he was in front of it. In Uncharted, he professes a love of volcanoes. Ngauruhoe was his first, he tells Canvas. He was making a skiing film for the National Film Unit. "It was in semi-eruption, we got stuck up there because the clouds rolled in, and the wind changed and we started to choke to death, we thought we were going to die ...

"Look at that one right behind you," he says, gesturing to Rangitoto. "It's only 600 years old. We are on a live volcanic field. I don't want to be too pessimistic about this, but there might be some karma involved here. When that volcanic field goes, 'I've had enough of this'."

He's made himself smile again. He's like that unpredictable uncle at Christmas.