After being cast in the current release The Other Side of Heaven as a 1950s Mormon missionary stationed in a tropical paradise, Christopher Gorham pictured himself sipping pina coladas and soaking up rays. But, he tells TV Guide Online, making the movie in the South Pacific turned out to be as much like a season of Survivor as a rerun of Fantasy Island.

"A lot of people describe Rarotonga as being like Hawaii 50 years ago, before it got totally developed," says the actor, a WB mainstay who has appeared on Popular, Felicity and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. "It's incredibly beautiful, but it's not Honolulu, so you don't have all the amenities."

"As far as our shooting conditions went," he continues, "I was covered with mosquito bites all the time. We did a lot of stuff in swamps and, post-hurricane, it was very messy."

By the time the 27-year-old Fresno, Calif., native headed home to wife (and onetime Popular co-star) Anel Lopez, his experience even had begun to feel like an episode of Fear Factor. "We shot swimming scenes out in the ocean beyond the reefs where there are sharks," he reveals. "I was scared I was going to die.

"I didn't actually see any sharks," confesses the star of the upcoming Showtime series Odyssey 5, "but they're out there. Plus, I've never been swimming out in the open — I've been swimming at the beach, but never where I can't touch the bottom or even see the bottom. So being out there for the first time was terrifying."