This was supposed to be an interview with the actress Lisa Chappell, but don't get your hopes up. She was upstaged by a dog called George, which was her fault, and by an unnamed goat, which she would say was mine.

She is supposed to be plugging the Auckland Theatre Company production of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest at the Maidment, in which she is playing the minx Gwendolen. She proved hopeless at the sales pitch so I'll do it for her: on now; do book; sounds a jolly romp etc.

I don't mind because she is a jolly romp of an interview, even when much of the interview involved animals. The romp bit was something of a relief.

I was asked: would I like to interview her on a beach, or in a cafe? Neither. I wanted to go to her house, but that wasn't on, apparently.

I may have muttered, after hanging up the phone after that conversation with the publicist: "bloody actors". The beach idea was silly, and the not going to her house probably meant she was going to be snooty.

A cafe it was, at 10 in the morning, in a not at all trendy suburb, near a beach. She, very sweetly and not a bit snootily, asked me to name neither because she's just bought her first house and people can be a bit starry-eyed about having "the girl on the telly" move in.

So, "I just thought I might request that". I said the location of her washing line was safe with me. She is not in the least starry herself, so deserves to be able to hang out her smalls in private.

She was wearing full slap, but no lipstick, a kaftanny top over tights and jandals and her toenails were painted with chipped electric blue polish. She was also wearing an enormous headband thing, which made her look as though she had hardly any hair. She has often played pretty girls with good hair.

"Ha, ha! Nobody's ever said that about me. I've got crap hair." She held a bit out for me to investigate. "It's like baby hair." But in the pictures ... "Yeah, when I was working on The Cult, another actor said to me, 'But I thought you had good hair!"'

She said, sounding like Wilde's Lady Bracknell: "Yes, grooming is such a challenge, isn't it?" She shrieked when I said I admired her dedication to make up at 10am.

The thing I really admired was - how to put this? - that it was so haphazardly applied. I didn't like to tell her (well, how would you put it?) but I didn't need to - she helpfully did it for me.

She said she had slapped on some old sunscreen makeup and an ancient mascara she'd unearthed. This indicates that she does not spend much of her time, if any, given the state of those toenails, worrying about the challenges of grooming.

She was first famous, of course, for playing Chelsea in Gloss, in the Greed is Good 80s, when she was just 17. She said, later, about her Gloss role, that she worried that "being an attractive woman, I may not have been taken seriously".

She looks horrified now. "God, did I really say that? It's surprising what you say ... It's just Gloss was such a novelty in New Zealand ... glamour and fashion ... I had to fight tooth and nail to get my next role."

She went to an audition for Shark in the Park, wasn't recognised in the audition waiting room by the producer and got a call from her agent to ask why she hadn't turned up.

Actors are chameleons, of course, so I'm really not being rude when I say I can see how this might have happened. I was looking for somebody who looked a bit like her character Claire from McLeod's Daughters, the Australian "romantic drama" which turned into a soap, which is one reason she asked to be killed off.

This show made her a bit famous, I think. It's hard to tell. She won awards and was "a celebrity in 144 countries", or so I learned by watching a TV doco about her. This is so daft as to be meaningless, not least of all to her.

"Ha, ha. I do get letters from the strangest places. The last one was from Romania. I didn't even know they had TV in Romania. I'm only joking!"

What would someone in Romania write to say? "Just that they love the show and they love Claire and my performance. Some of them ... say that the show impacted on them profoundly and in a time of great need."

It is strange, she says, but she always tries to reply. She has kept up an email conversation with a woman in Belgium "who has had cancer for seven years ... she's kind of part of my life now ... But other than that, I get a bit detached because it is just a bit odd, but I do answer. Very quickly. And I try not to buy into it because it is odd."

I'm trying to work out how famous she was, a line of inquiry she's not remotely interested in pursuing.

I said it was hard to get a sense of her starriness and she said, "yeah. I agree! I've never been a big star in my world. I might have been in other people's worlds. Ha. But not in mine. My world has always been the same: quite small. You know, my close friends, my family, whatever is going on in my head."

She certainly never developed that actor's ailment: angsty self-consciousness. "No, I kind of go around in my little world most of the time. Anyway, I don't really notice what's going on."

When she lived in Sydney people were always asking her for Ecstasy because she is so lovey-dovey and was always hugging and kissing people. She thought E was a new drink. She is such a goody-goody.

"I like drinking! But I don't like to drink too much so consequently I leave before all the fun stuff happens."

Because she is so friendly and huggy, I did ask about not being allowed to go to her house. "Why didn't you come to my house? I mean, it's not flash but you would have been more than welcome." So it wasn't her idea.

The beach idea was because it's next door to her house, and she could have just rolled out of bed instead of having to turn up to a cafe at this ungodly hour of the morning.

Also, she is a hippy girl and so of course she liked the idea of an interview on a beach and thought I was strange for thinking it dotty. She does meditation. She has "healings" done.

Healing of what? I wondered, because she looks as robust as a goat but perhaps even goats need spiritual healing.

She will really be shrieking at that "goat", because she told me she believes in reincarnation (and the basic tenets of Christianity) and so of course I asked what she used to be. She said, "a goat".

I said I was sure she had been a beautiful goat. "I made that up! Because you're so cynical. I don't even like goats. I do not think I was a goat ... Oh, God. Now I'll have some other reporter going, ' 10 years ago, when you thought you were a goat ..."'

Then she said, "I don't feed you goat, do I?" This was addressed to the dog, George, who sat in on the interview. The very first thing she told me was how George had pooed on the carpet during the night. She told me much more than I wanted to know about this.

I could tell you much more about George, but here are some of the more interesting details: he has recently had his moustache clipped so that he resembles a member of the Village People.

He is not allowed to eat anything bigger than himself - "which would mean mosquitoes, wouldn't it?" she said, to him, obviously - by decree of his animal naturopath. He is only allowed to eat raw food, because of his rashes.

His owner has been a vegetarian since she worked with a hand-reared lamb on McLeod's Daughters. She did a very funny impersonation of herself: a hysterical vegetarian elbow-deep in animal bits, "tearing them limb-to-limb", to make George's tea.

I had to ask: She hasn't mistaken him for her baby, has she? "No!" To George: "You're a dog, aren't you? You don't sleep on the bed, do you? Well, maybe sometimes."

Some people get confused. "Yes, they do. I've got friends with dogs who don't have kids [she doesn't have kids], and when we're all in the same room together and start talking about their poos and what they're eating and ... doggie dates, we look at each and crack up and go 'oh, God!"'

Is that enough George? He's a good prop for an actor in an interview, but I'm not so cynical I think that this is why she brought him along.

At another Lady Bracknell moment she said, "Oh well, that's all right, my dear. You can be as cynical as you like." So, uncynically I will say that she just does take him to cafes anyway.

I said I was glad she hadn't made George be vegetarian and she said, well, he was a carnivore. I said, well, so was she, actually. She stuck out her chin and said, "Ha! And would you like to have that discussion?" I would not. She manages to be a bit airy-fairy and down-to-earth but she is also, if endearingly, stroppy.

I teased her a bit about bawling when she had to fire a gun for The Cult and she said: "It was a real gun. And I was sticking it in someone's stomach. And shooting it. You try it and see how you like it!"

She should never have mentioned the goat, because I really can see her as one: sticking out her chin; digging her little heels in. I do mean that as a compliment.

I can think of no other goat, and very few actors, you could spend such an engaging hour with.