After her big Hollywood break in Wedding Crashers in 2005, Isla became frustrated with the lack of comedic roles for women available in film. She found she was just getting offered stereotypical “one-dimensional” ‘girlfriend’ roles, in which “women roll their eyes while the guys get all the good lines,” rather than being able to deliver the funny herself. Ever the fearless one, Isla decided to become pro-active about this and started to write her own projects! She wanted to create more comedic roles her herself, and other actresses. When asked about this new career move, Isla said of it, “I’m still being creative and moving more into production, and making sure I have a little bit more power and control over my career.”
“The reality is, for women in comedy, there aren’t many opportunities to be the funny one. There aren’t scripts written. If you want to be challenged and do the work you want, you have to create the material yourself.”
“I think there is a lack of quality roles for women in comedies. Most actresses get cast as the “eye-roller”/”the serious one,” while men in comedies get to do all the fun, silly stuff and muck around. Sometimes you just have to search hard for a role or create one for yourself.”
“There are millions of funny female actors, but I just think that there are fewer roles for them. So you have to create your own opportunities. You can’t wait for them to appear out of thin air.”
Isla’s writing career started way back in the mid 90’s, when she wrote and released two teenage romance novels entitled ‘Bewitched’ and ‘Seduced By Fame’. She enjoyed the process, and has regularly acknowledged her love of writing in the years since, but admits that she is “too gregarious” to write more novels. Instead, she has turned her writing talents to film projects and says this is how she fulfils the urge to write now. “I got together and found some great writers, and I have kind of been into writing for myself and pitching it to studios, and it’s been really rewarding creatively, and relieving, because it means I’ll get the opportunity to go do that,” she told reporters in 2007.
Isla has been writing with SNL funny lady Amy Poehler on film ideas and scripts in recent years. Isla was a big fan of Amy, and after telling her agent this, a lunch was arranged for the two of them to meet. They’ve been developing ideas since. Back in 2005 it was announced that Isla and Amy would co-star in female driven comedy Groupies, based on an idea they came up with themselves. Somewhere along the line Isla and Amy joined Erica Rivinoja on script writing duties, presumably because Isla felt the project wasn’t getting the attention it deserved, and she felt it was worth developing. Isla stated that she and Amy wrote a lot of the gags and basic structure for Groupies, but that they hired Erica Rivinoja to write the script itself and put it all together. They were careful to make sure that the girls got to be funny, and not just “stand there while some boy made a joke.” They’ve been developing this project ever since 2005-ish, and it used to be brought up regularly in interviews with Isla.
Isla says that “it’s about classic, overconfident dum-dums lusting after a band. There’s a restraining order against them, but they’re in total denial.” “It’s essentially two girls who… It’s a little like Dumb and Dumber with two women. We’re these really deluded, over-confident, dumb dumbs who fall in love with the band, and we believe that they share the same love for us. And, we run their fan club. It’s called Groupies, and we are the world’s worst groupies, but we think that we are king of the mountain,” she adds. The band in the movie are “not dissimilar to Creed,” Isla says.
Possibly because of Amy’s work on her TV show Parks And Recreation and subsequent rise in Hollywood, and Isla’s burgeoning film career and family, we haven’t had any solid news on its progress in recent years. Read more about Groupies on our Rumoured Roles page.
Talking about the process of writing, whether it be novels or scripts, Isla says, “With all writing, you think on the spot, really, and then you go back and make sure it all fits together.” Always wanting to get the perfect joke, Isla admits to rewriting several of her lines, much to “the distress” of those working with her! She recognises the frustrations of writing and developing your own work though, noting that “it’s more frustrating being in development than it is to just be cast in something, obviously, because a lot of it is out of your control.” It can take a lot of time to get the script right, not to mention then getting the approval and funding from studios to actually shoot the project.
However, this is clearly something Isla is very interested in. She’s hinted a couple of times in interviews that she has ideas for new projects and/or has recently pitched new ideas but can’t talk about them yet; apparently she has already sold two comedy scripts to major Hollywood studios. Her focus in recent years seems to have shifted to writing children’s books at present. In a 2020 interview with The Daily Telegraph, Isla spoke about her screenwriting work but added that “I’ve never been lucky enough to have anything made. In some ways I don’t feel very confident… it’s just not there yet.”