One 10-minute Skype call was all it took to get Megan Stevenson on a plane down under. She talks to Chris Schulz.

Megan Stevenson had never heard of the Downlow Concept, had never met Josh Thomson, and had never been to New Zealand.

In fact, she'd never visited a Pacific island.

"I had no idea that Rarotonga was so small," she says on the phone, laughing at her naivety. "I had never been to an island like that."

Yet a 10-minute Skype call over a dodgy connection was all it took to get Stevenson on to a plane to play one of the leads in new film Gary of the Pacific - a role that would require her to do all of those things.


"[There were] all these weird pauses because the connection wasn't good," she says about her pitch meeting with the Downlow Concept.

"That was it ... I was on the plane in a week."

The casting of the 33-year-old as Josh Thomson's love interest in the madcap Kiwi romcom happened so fast, Stevenson didn't have time to think about it.

When she finally gathered her thoughts, she was already on the plane.

"I did have a moment," admits the Californian actor, known for TV comedy roles such as cult hit Review with Forrest MacNeil.

"I thought, 'Oh shit, I really hope I enjoy these people'."

The Downlow Concept - the Auckland-based production team of Jarrod Holt, Ryan Hutchings and Nigel McCulloch who are responsible for 7 Days and Hounds - were intent on wooing Stevenson for their movie.

They had one problem: they'd never made a film before. The trio had been working on the script since winning the 48 Hour Film Festival in 2006 for Brown Peril, a mockumentary about a badminton star, featuring Thomson.

"We thought, 'Gee, Josh is really good, we should do a script with him' ... For nine years, we've been trying to learn how to make a feature film. It was like going to a really long film school with that one script," says Holt.

Read more: Josh Thomson is New Zealand's funniest man - he just doesn't know it yet

With a buffed-up script finally ready to film, Holt, Hutchings and McCulloch had Thomson signed up, along with comedian Dave Fane and Go Girls' Matt Whelan.

Megan Stevenson had never heard of Josh Thomson when she agreed to take the role in Gary of the Pacific.
Megan Stevenson had never heard of Josh Thomson when she agreed to take the role in Gary of the Pacific.

But they desperately needed an American actor to play Thomson's love interest.

"We were just obsessed with [Review With Forrest MacNeil]," says Holt. "Megan's so good, really deadpan and so straight through Forrest's insanity.

"We thought she'd play so well against Josh, straight-faced against that idiocy."

Stevenson says she had no qualms about joining the project after their dodgy Skype call, saying she instantly fell in love with the trio's sense of humour.

But she admits she had no idea about Gary of the Pacific's troubled gestation period.

"I read the script and I really loved it. I watched Hounds and I fell in love, so I based it off that decision. I did not know of the whole 10-years-in-the-making thing when I got on board. They didn't tell me that until I was already on the island with them.

"There was no getting out at that point."

Once in Rarotonga, Stevenson was a fish out of water. But it helped that her character Chloe is as well. She plays a stuck-up American princess who finds herself slumming it on a Pacific Island when Thomson's Gary inherits a sinking island.

Things take a turn for the worse when Gary promises Chloe the wedding of her dreams - only to deliver the opposite, complete with the world's wackiest wedding band.

Luckily for Stevenson, she loved the film's five-week shoot.

"It was a trippy experience. It felt like were all at summer camp together just making a movie for fun. I would walk along the ocean to go get dinner. It was pretty much a dream the whole entire time."

Stevenson's seen the film - twice - and given it her seal of approval.

But she's still confused about one thing:

Gary of the Pacific's

opening joke about a dead dolphin that's found lying on the beach and is chopped up for a barbecue.

She doesn't get it - and she thinks it may be a cultural thing.

"I am a huge animal lover/animal rescuer. That was very hard for me. But I did laugh. It's like, 'Oh, okay, they enjoy this, they get humour out of this. I guess I will get humour out of this'."

A joke about a fish out of water? Maybe it just cut a little too close to the bone.

* Gary of the Pacific hits theatres today.