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The ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic’ Star Discusses Her New Film, Her Lack Of Fashion Sense And The Power Of Comedy

Isla Fisher may excel at loosing it onscreen – carnally in her scene-stealing role from “Wedding Crashers,” financially as the star of the new “Confessions of a Shopaholic” – but in real life the Australian actress seems eminently sensible.

Even if she is engaged to Borat. Fisher, 33, and Sacha Baron Cohen have a one-year-old daughter named Olive, live between L.A. and his hometown London, and keep low public profiles when they’re not engaged in their separate but similar professional acts outrageous behavior.

Fisher additionally claims that she’s nothing like fashion-obsessed, credit card-abusing Rebecca Bloomwood, the journalist heroine of Sophie Kinsella’s best-selling series of “Shopaholic” novels.

Maybe, but the petite redhead exhibited pretty good taste on the day of an interview, having chosen a puffy sleeved, low-cut blue Zac Posen dress that complemented her fair features perfectly. Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by “My Best Friend’s Wedding’s” P.J. Hogan – two guys who’ve never been accused of shying away from excess – “Shopaholic” comes out at a time when consumerism may be in its death throes.

Fortunately, Isla did not sign on for a celebration of overspending, but a film that ultimately turns into a critique of it. That could make this the first big comedy of our new, underfunded age. At the very least, it’s an example of good actorly sense.

Q: The message of this movie is: Don’t buy overpriced clothes. And Sacha’s been crashing and trashing big fashion shows as his gay character Bruno for a new movie. Are you two plotting to destroy the clothing industry?

A: [Laughs until she coughs]

Q: Well?

A: No. At least I’m not.

Q: Seriously, did you have any idea when you were making this film about the joys and perils of runaway spending that we’d be in such an economic mess now?

A: We finished the movie, I think, the first of April last year. It’s hard to even remember now, but at that stage people were shopping! Magazines were viable; y’know, it was Back Then. It just feels incredibly topical to come out with this movie now. I just hope people realize that we’re not glamorizing shopping, that there is a true message at the end.

Q: Your dad was an international banker, your mom’s an author, you’ve acted since you were nine and you even published two novels when you were a teenager. Safe to assume you’ve never had trouble making ends meet?

A: Yes and no. I’m certainly not from a wealthy family by any stretch of the imagination. And when I was in Paris, I spent all my money to get into this theater school that specialized in clowning, mime and commedia dell’arte. And at the same time, I bought a very small apartment that had an extremely large mortgage when I was 19. So even though I was technically a homeowner, I didn’t have any liquid and I was heavily in debt. So there were a couple of years there when I was just scraping by.

Q: Spill your personal shopaholic secrets.

A: I shop rarely and poorly. But I would say that if had to pick something that’s my shopping weakness, it’s books. Just the smell of books, particularly old books, and just seeing all your buddies . . . I’ll buy books I’ve already read because I’ve misplaced them and I love them.

Q: Not into the latest fashions, then?

A: I’m not a fashionista by any stretch of the imagination. With the pageantry of the red carpet, there’s a portion of my life that’s devoted to that. But the reality is that I’m a jeans and t-shirt girl and I’m a mom. Unfortunately, my life and time don’t lend themselves to the beautification process, which is extremely time-consuming. Any spare time I get is dedicated to sleep right now.

Q: So, learn a lot making this movie?

A: I did enjoy working with Patricia Fields, who did the costumes. She did “Sex and the City” and “The Devil Wears Prada.” She made me realize that fashion is this entire world that I had no idea existed. Y’know, there would be a six-hour conversation about a belt, and I couldn’t for the life of me see the difference between this green belt and the green and gold belt.

Q: Did you keep anything from the movie?

A: No, I wasn’t allowed. At the beginning when I first tried on the costumes I was very excited and I wished I could keep things. But after wearing them for three-and-a-half months, then on-and-off because I was breastfeeding every couple of minutes, the last thing I want to do is see those costumes again.

Q: How’d it feel to headline a movie for the first time?

A: It was a big responsibility to do something that I’d never done before. I knew I was responsible for the tone of the movie in a way that I wasn’t as a supporting castmember. Then add onto that the pressure of playing a character from beloved books. The idea that I’d do any disservice to Rebecca Bloomwood in the books was very nerve-wracking.

Q: I’d imagine it’d be a bit weird for a Scottish Australian who’s lived a long time in England to play this very British character as an American.

A: Yeah, absolutely. But I knew the character so well – I’d read the books way before I got the gig, then I re-read and re-read them – I just had to make subtle shifts. But ultimately Rebecca’s inner voice and characteristics stayed the same. I made her a little more clowny for the sake of the movie than she is in the book because it’s a heightened reality.

Q: Many say comedy is harder than drama. You agree?

A: Personally, I can watch a bad dramatic movie and it doesn’t bother me as much as watching a bad comedic movie. That makes my skin crawl. So I think that comedy is much more difficult.

Q: You grew up in Perth, which was also Heath Ledger’s hometown. Did you ever work together?

A: Heath was on a show that I worked on called “Home and Away.” We worked together; I’ve known him since I was 16. It’s a shame. I absolutely hope he wins the Oscar, even though “The Dark Knight” was something that felt like it would be difficult for me to see, having known him personally.

Q: Though his taboo-breaking pranks may not indicate it, Sacha’s a pretty conservative Jew. Didn’t you recently convert?

A: Yes! It’s great. You know, family is so important in Judaism and it’s the most important thing to me, so I’m very happy.

Q: Sacha gets so into his characters like Borat and Bruno. Does he ever bring them home with him?

A: No comment. [laughs until she coughs again]