Rhys Darby was in Los Angeles trying to sound like an American when he heard about the Christchurch quake.
"I was auditioning for American TV shows ... I had to spend the whole day doing the American accent in my apartment and it just didn't feel right. I mean, I've never felt so Kiwi in my life. I've never felt so helpless and homeless," the comedian said yesterday.
"I just really wanted to be home."
Darby, of the Flight of the Conchords TV show, is one of 17 New Zealand actors who will appear in a one-off charity performance of the play Bare at the Civic on March 25 to raise funds for the Red Cross appeal.
The play, about Kiwi identity and change, was originally performed by two actors, but this time will include Lucy Lawless, Sam Neill, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Antony Starr, Ian Mune, Michael Hurst and Annie Whittle.
It will also boast musician Don McGlashan, accompanied by the 30-strong Jubilation Choir. The choir will end the performance with the song Bathe in the River.
Darby said he jumped at the chance to do something for Christchurch.
"It means so much to me. [Christchurch is] a second home to me.
"I spent time as a soldier there. I did all my university there. I began my comedy career there, in pubs telling jokes for a free beer.
"And I met my wife down there, so it's a very special place for me, so it's the least I can do."
Darby was tight-lipped about his role in Bare. "It's secret. It may shock some people."
However, he was happy to note that his American audition went well. He ended up being asked to speak in his New Zealand accent so he threw the script in the air in a mock tantrum.
"I had a hissy-fit in an audition in America. I'm pleased to say I got the part and I get to keep my New Zealand accent in the role so I feel really proud about that."
Darby will play the brother-in-law to the protagonist in a CBS sitcom called How to be a Gentleman.
Where: The Civic, Auckland.
When: March 25, 7.30pm.
Tickets: From $35.