Americans Cindy Hall and Jamin Halberstadt caught up with a famous compatriot yesterday, half a world away from home.

The couple, who have lived in Dunedin for six years, talked to actor Gwyneth Paltrow, posed for photographs with her and their 20-month-old daughter, Abigail, and came away with the star's autograph.

"It was really neat. We would never be able to get that close to her in the US," Ms Hall said.

"It will be great to tell Abigail all about it when she is old enough to understand."

Ms Hall said she had always wanted to meet Paltrow.

"She is a really good actor. It was kind of neat to be so close to her."

Paltrow is in New Zealand for about two weeks filming scenes for Ted and Sylvia, a movie about the relationship between poets Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, played by British actor Daniel Craig.

Ms Hall and Mr Halberstadt had been to Karitane, northeast of Dunedin, on Thursday, hoping to see Paltrow, but missed her by a day. Their persistence paid off yesterday at Otago University, where the stars and about 60 extras were filming inside Marama Hall.

Keeping a lower profile in Dunedin was the lead singer of award-winning British indie band Coldplay, Chris Martin, who is accompanying Paltrow, his partner, during the New Zealand shoot.

Martin was seen at the university yesterday and was apparently on the barge used for filming off Karitane.