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The Real Me: Isla Fisher – Interview: Darren gets on well with his ex-girlfriends so he can’t be that much of a heartbreaker

FOR three years Isla Fisher starred in the Australian soap Home And Away as the feisty Shannon, who ultimately left Summer Bay to go to Paris to be a writer.

This year, Isla appeared in Summer Holiday in Blackpool, which is where she met Darren Day. The story of their engagement broke in the papers last week on their return from a romantic holiday in the Maldives, where Darren proposed.

They are starring together in Cinderella, which opens tonight at the Palace Theatre in Manchester. We met in Darron’s dressing room. Isla is tiny, buzzing, pretty – and nobody’s fool.

I HAVE never been into my looks. I’m very fortunate. I’ve always been comfortable with the way I’ve looked and I’ve never put that much effort into my appearance.

The truth is, I haven’t got anything to complain about. I wish my fingers were slimmer – they’re a bit pudgy – but that’s hardly newsworthy!

And I thought once about getting my ears pinned but that was about it. People used to call me Dumbo and make jokes such as: “How are you going to get to rehearsals – walk or fly?” But it never really worried me.

I’m not as tiny as Kylie Minogue. Everyone said to me: “Oh, Kylie’s tiny, too.” And I thought: “Yeah, but she’ll still be taller than me.” And I met her and I was so surprised. She’s gorgeous.

I come from a big family, I have four brothers and young men growing up make comments about women’s bodies so I was always conscious. I used to feel that I was maybe too slight to be sexy. I wasn’t the voluptuous Marilyn Monroe-type figure that men seemed to adore.

But I was too busy doing other things. I started acting very young, at 12. I’ve always been very disciplined and driven. My mother says I’m the most ambitious person she’s met. And I am.

As a result, my looks meant nothing, in terms that I’ve got so much more to say. I always thought I’d write, in which case it didn’t matter what I looked like.

I mean, I’m not gay at all but I find all women of all ages beautiful – no matter what colour their hair is or whatever their shape.

So many young girls today have problems and I’ve read that it can be due to the media scrutiny and the supermodel era.

But no matter how much access you’re getting to absolutely stunning, computer-graphically touched-up women, you’ve always got to know that what you’ve got inside and who you are is a hell of a lot more important than how someone else sees you.

I would never have cosmetic surgery. I don’t understand it. Two-thirds of the population don’t eat yet someone thinks that their breasts aren’t big enough?

I am looking forward to ageing. Every line in my face will be a story about what I’ve achieved and who I am as a person and I’m not going to alter it.

Of course, I say that now without lines! Once I get them, I’ll probably be in there and have everything done. I’ll be a walking Barbie!

I’m 5ft 3ins and about 6st 10lb, although I don’t weigh myself – I don’t own scales. It never varies. I can eat everything in sight and don’t put on weight. I know, I know, I know – I’m really sorry!

It’s because I’ve got a high metabolism and I jump around all the time and I’m always active. But I like to eat well, I like fresh fruit and vegetables. I don’t eat lots of sugar. My Mum was into the Pritikin Diet and we grew our own veggies.

I think if you’re young and you’re set a good family example, it gives you good habits. We never had junk food in the house, no chocolate. My Mum is just the best person. I idolise her.

She’s a very intelligent, very educated, strong woman, very successful, done everything from marketing to writing children’s books. She’s always had her own mind and done her own thing.

You’d love her – she’s very inspirational.

She’s not needy, she doesn’t expect anything from me, she doesn’t judge me in any way. When I ring her in tears, she says: “Isla, it’s all bulls***. Let it go.”

She can’t wait to have grandchildren. Whatever country I’m in when I have babies, I know my mother will be at my side.

I’ve worked non-stop since I was 12, in Perth, Western Australia. When I was 16 I left home to do a series called Paradise Beach in Queensland. And when I was 19, I moved on to Home And Away In Sydney.

I left the series 18 months ago – I’m 23 next February – to go to Jacques Le Coq Mime School in Paris to train in alternative theatre. I really, really wanted to live in Paris so basically I took a year out of my career to train.

It was quite brave on my own, looking back. It was a very difficult time for me. I’d arrived in England a couple of months before I started and I was seeing someone at the time, Anthony de Rothschild, who meant a lot to me. And we actually broke up on the eve of my departure to Paris.

I sat in this tiny little hotel room in Paris and thought: “My God, what have I done? I’ve got no friends here, I’ve just split up from a relationship, I don’t speak much of the language. How am I going to cope?” I was very, very, very depressed.

But it was brilliant, because I found somewhere to live and made the best friend in my life – apart from Kate Ritchie, who plays Sally in Home And Away. I adore her.

I just got into living the French student life for nine months and loved it.

In a way, it’s that unpredictability that makes life cool – you never know in what direction you’re going to go. I wasn’t recognised in France. I’d been used to being treated differently, because of Home And Away.

I always thought I’d miss fame. But I worked out over there that I don’t want to be defined by my work. I learned that I wasn’t going to place my self-worth in something external, or be graded by other people’s opinions. Bloody hell, I’m not going to be judged! I came back here in May and got Summer Holiday so I thought I could implement the theatre skills I’d learned in a musical. It was a great experience.

Not being a singer or a dancer, I worry about what poor Darren and the rest of the cast thought. They probably had their ears plugged. I just gave it a go. Blackpool was a culture shock but I loved it in the end.

I got my belly button pierced there. I really wanted a tattoo but I know I’d regret it. It’s such fun, it makes me feel rebellious.

I rang my Dad and he said: “Is that the best you can do? I’ve been waiting for you to rebel for 22 years.”

Like other redheads, I’m definitely fiery. I don’t sit on the fence. I say what I mean and say what I feel. It’s very Australian. No bulls***.

I love being Australian, I’m so proud of it. But I’ve only been back twice since I went away. The second time for a couple of weeks when I finished Summer Holiday. Darren came over for four days before we flew on to the Maldives and just fell in love with Australia. My parents adore Darren. My Mum gets on very well with him and my father thinks he’s wonderful.

We’re probably looking at getting married mid-next year. It’s up to me to get organised, to get it together. We’ll definitely have a celebration in Australia and one here for Darren’s family.

Although I suppose it’s nothing new being victims of hurtful things in the Press, I do find it, very, um, distressing.

I find it distressing for Darren. I feel for him because he has to bear the brunt of it.

I think, you know, Darren Day Gets Engaged Every Week? I mean, he’s 30 and he’s been engaged once. To be honest, I’d be concerned if my fiance at 30 hadn’t ever had another relationship.

Darren has very good relationships with his exes – I don’t know about Tracy – so he can’t be that much of a heart-breaker.

Darren and I didn’t release our engagement to the Press. We had no intention of telling anyone. When the story broke, it put me in the most horrendous situation because I had phone calls from my friends all around the world, saying: “My God, Isla, you got engaged and you never told me.”

We got engaged in the Maldives and came back and I had every intention – when I had a minute from panto rehearsals – of calling and telling friends.

My parents, of course, knew. So I felt very betrayed and my friends felt very betrayed.

It definitely does hurt and it’s terribly unfair. But it will pass, everything does. I’m not a victim. I never will be a victim. Not before I’m blue in the face will I ever be a victim.

And at the end of the day, you know, we’re all just people trying to get through. And frankly, life’s too short to give a s***.

Because for 1998, my New Year’s resolutions were to do a film, to do a theatre show, to get home to Oz and to fall in love.

I’ve done all four. So I’m very happy.

NO WHIFFS OR BUTTS

MY NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION
TO GIVE up smoking – it’s my only vice. I started heavily only in the last couple of years. I’ve never done drugs although I’ve been offered cocaine like everyone else in the industry. I will stop smoking – it’s disgusting. Or my lungs will be like barbecued prawns.

MY DARK SECRETS
I’VE GOT fair skin so I’ve never been a sun bunny, and I always clapped Factor 30 on my face. One in five Australians gets skin cancer. I’m a biscuit colour from our holiday in the Maldives. I’ve never gone topless, I just couldn’t. I’m quite shy about my body. I’m not self-conscious, I’ve got no cellulite. Yet.

MY BIGGEST TREAT
CHOCOLATE. I love Twirls in this country. Back home we have Violet Crumbles, honeycomb covered in chocolate and delicious. And chocolate Tim Tam biscuits, the best in the world. I also missed Iced Vo-vos, fluffy pink marshmallow biscuits. I love them.

MY BEAUTY SECRETS
ALTHOUGH men are more vain than women – my brothers! – we are suckered into the beauty product line. I don’t skimp on the best products and I’ll happily pay for packaging. I’ve had bad skin through going through adolescence on-screen under heavy lights. I have had spots. I use Reno Quinot Products and have their facial once a month.

MY FAVOURITE TIPPLE
BUDWEISER and Australian wines – any Margaret River wine – are fabulous, or Jacob’s Creek Semillon Chardonney, beautiful. I have been known to do too many Tequila Slammers occasionally but it’s very rare. Berocca is brilliant for hangovers.

MY CLOSET SECRETS
I’M A shoe and handbag freak. I haven’t grasped the concept that I already have six pairs of black, strappy going-out sandals – I still need to buy more and more. Between here and Australia, I maybe have 60 pairs of shoes. I’m hard on them too, scuff anything. Hard on nails too, worried I’ll clunk my engagement ring.