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Isla Fisher

Her unorthodox upbringing took her from Brunei to the beaches of Australia. But it’s her clown-school lessons that are paying off big-time.

Isla Fisher’s character in the new film Wedding Crashers is, to put it lightly, all over the map–which is nothing new for the 29-year-old actress. Born to Scottish parents in Muscat, Oman, Fisher spent her early years living in a variety of locales throughout the Middle East and Asia, including Egypt and Brunei. The family eventually settled in Australia, where she began acting, snagging a role on the long-running soap Home and Away. She also published two best-selling teen romance novels before taking off for Paris to study at a drama school that specialized in clowning, where she learned to mime and juggle.

Fisher, though, put all that experience to good use for Wedding Crashers, in which her character, Gloria Cleary, the off-kilter daughter of a U.S. senator, becomes enamored with a bridesmaid-bedding divorce lawyer (Vince Vaughn) who shows up uninvited at her sister’s wedding. Vaughn’s character, however, soon finds that he may have bitten off more than he can chew with Gloria, whom Fisher describes as “completely mental.” “She’d be locked up if she didn’t have such a powerful family,” explains the actress, who’s in the midst of planning her own wedding to fiance Sacha Baron Cohen (a.k.a. Ali G). “She’s this girl in heat who has no etiquette or ability to control herself. I just kept trying to turn it up an extra notch, and I think it paid off.”