Last month 18-year-old Kiwi actress Rose McIver was in Berlin and just about to embark on a historical walking tour of the city when a friend got a text message from McIver’s mother.
The text said she had landed an important role in Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones.
‘‘I didn’t have a cell phone and it cost my friends to receive calls, so my mum just sent a text message saying ‘You’ve got it’. That’s about all I knew for the next few days. I couldn’t concentrate on anything. I was pretty ecstatic.’’
It was the same for another 18-year-old Aucklander, Carolyn Dando. It was just another day at her restaurant job till her mother and younger sister dropped in.
‘‘They were just like ‘You’ve got it.’ I was really overwhelmed after that. I went around in a daze for the rest of the night.’’
In Wellington yesterday at Jackson’s studios, the two were still coming to terms with the big changes ahead.
In October they fly to Pennsylvania for several weeks shooting on the $US65 million ($NZ90m) film, which will be their first chance to meet its Hollywood stars.
McIver will play Lindsey, the younger sister of 14-year-old murder victim Susie Salmon, who continues to observe her family on Earth after her death.
Dando will be Susie’s classmate Ruth Connors, an outsider who becomes mysteriously connected to Susie after her death. The grandmother of McIver’s character will be played by Susan Sarandon, her mother by Rachel Weisz and father by rising star Ryan Gosling.
Thirteen-year-old Irish actress Saoirse Ronan will play Susie and the cast also included Michael Imperioli, from The Sopranos, and Stanley Tucci as Susie’s murderer, Mr Harvey.
‘‘We auditioned all over the world for the characters of Lindsey and Ruth, but in the end we found that the best actor for each role happened to be a young Kiwi,’’ said Jackson.
McIver has appeared in television shows including Maddigan’s Quest and Rude Awakenings and films for the Disney Channel.
But Dando, who has postponed plans to study classical singing next year after landing the part, had only been in one television movie Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America along with some theatre.
The film is based on American writer Alice Sebold’s book and both had been rereading it, taking particular note of the American characters they will play.
But the fact they would soon be in a film directed by an Oscar winner and seen by millions still had not sunk in.
‘‘It is the first time I’ve lived away from home, so Mum’s hoping I’ll be able to cook my own dinners capably and do my own washing,’’ joked McIver.