The female customers at Shawty's Cafe in the sleepy Canterbury town of Twizel are swooning with a dashing Hollywood star in their midst. Michael Fassbender (Prometheus, X Men: First Class) is in Twizel to shoot his film Slow West, but he's quickly making friends among the locals for his lack of airs and graces.
"He's so beautiful," said one local grandmother. "He's got lovely big blue eyes and a gorgeous smile. He smiles at us every morning when he comes in to Shawty's to get his morning coffee.
"You wouldn't know he's a big Hollywood star. He talks to people and is really friendly and chatty. He's been here about three weeks now."
Principal photography got under way this week, with Twizel doubling as 19th- century Colorado. Filming on the Western - about a 17-year-old travelling across the American Frontier to search for the woman he loves, accompanied by a mysterious traveller - will also take place in the Scottish Highlands.
Cast and crew of the UK-NZ feature film, which has financing from the New Zealand Film Commission, are staying in various houses around town.
But it's Fassbender locals want to see.
"He's been great for business," laughed Shawty's proprietor Troy Sheridan. "He's very modest and shy, but he laughed when my wife told him he's bringing in customers. Mostly the ladies, of course."
Fassbender, who grew up in the small Irish settlement of Killarney, is enjoying working in the small South Island town. "He's so accommodating and approachable," Sheridan said. "He comes in every day. He said he loves Twizel. He loves small towns. He's from a small town himself with only 12,000 people."
Fassbender plays both lead actor (the mysterious traveller Silas) and debut producer on the film, through his private production company DMC Film. He joins producers Iain Canning and Emile Sherman from See-Saw Films, a London- and Sydney-based production company behind the Jane Campion-directed TV dramaTop of the Lake, and Kiwi film and television producer Rachel Gardner.
Other Kiwis on production include Academy Award-winning art director Kim Sinclair, Whale Rider costume designer Kirsty Cameron and The Hobbit make-up artist Dannelle Satherley.