Hanging With The Boys in ‘Hot Rod’ With a Baby on the Way
Life is good right now if you are Isla Fisher. On the back of her breakthrough role in Wedding Crashers, she is starring in the debut film from the boys of Lonely Island (of SNL and massive online fame), happily married to a global comedy superstar and also expecting the imminent arrival of her first child. Buzzine’s Emmanuel Itier sat down with the radiant young actress in Hollywood, CA to talk about how growing up in a family with lots of brothers prepared Isla to thrive in a film in which the straight man is a woman.
Emmanuel Itier: First of all: Congratulations!
Isla Fisher: Thank you very much. I feel great. I’ve never been happier.
EI: You look fantastic!
IF: Thank you!
EI: Morning sickness?
IF: I can’t go into that. I’m over that part.
EI: Then let’s turn to your new movie, Hot Rod: What’s it like to be pregnant and working so hard, in terms of movies and promoting?
IF: Yeah, it’s been great. Actually, with this movie, it’s always a pleasure to promote something you’re into. I thought it was sort of a cross between Napoleon Dynamite and Wet Hot American Summer. It was really original, you know? The ’80s parodies and all the absurd riot scenes…
EI: Is this going to be your last teenage role after having the baby?
IF: Given my age [Laughs]
EI: But you look so young!
IF: Thank you. I could play someone young again if it was in a satire, ironically, if it was sort of done as a spoof. But I don’t know. Who knows? I would hate to say something and end up coming out in a teen slasher movie in 12 months. I’m joking.
EI: Your baby has Russian blood because Sasha’s Russian from his mothers side?
IF: Originally, no. I think it was Spain from the mother’s side.
EI: Doesn’t he have Russian roots?
IF: No, I’m just thinking. No. Is that the end of the interview now?
EI: I just read our Wedding Crashers interview with you, and the last question was: “So, is it true he’s making a Borat movie?” And you’re like, “I don’t know.”
IF: I’m so bad. Aren’t I? [Laughs]
EI: So the fact that back then you talked about being able to be relatively anonymous here, has that all changed for you since Wedding Crashers?
IF: Yes, slightly–definitely. There’s been more awareness, and obviously the success of Borat has affected that, but I’m very careful about not talking about my private life and not going to places where there are paparazzi. We’re relatively anonymous and we’re very grateful for that.
EI: Do you walk around in baseball caps?
IF: [Laughs] Yes, they tend to be more obvious though, sometimes.
EI: He’s not an easy person to blend into the background. He’s so tall.
IF: Exactly. Yes, exactly. [Laughs]
EI: Is it true that you were in the supermarket once and some guy was like, “Oh my God, you look just like that girl from Wedding Crashers,” and then ran away?
IF: That is true. How strange! On Santa Monica and Fairfax, yeah. It was brilliant–just around the cheese section. I’ll never forget.
EI: Well, that’s a nice little incident.
IF: Yes, thankfully. I like to think that other people actually liked Gloria. [Laughs]
EI: Why the decision to be so private? It’s a choice, but why do that?
IF: I see it the other way–why would you not want to do that, personally.
EI: Yeah, because it seems like you are on big billboards everywhere and there’s another side to life.
IF: I don’t hear it as much, you know. I really want to promote things that I’m in and be a responsible artist if the studio hires me, but everything else, I just feel it’s really important for me to feel normal.
EI: Because there are people who want to seek fame.
IF: I don’t want to be cut off from society and live in a bubble.
EI: How was it to be with Andy Samberg and the Lonely Island boys on this film?
IF: You know, it was really fun. I thought it could be of a bit of a frat boy sort of vibe, to be making sexist jokes, but actually, they were so warm and charming and lovely, and they are just really nice guys. Really nice, all of them–I never once felt like the only girl, ever.
EI: They said you really held your own.
IF: [Laughs] I had a lot of brothers growing up.
EI: How many?
IF: I had two real and then two step-brothers, so I kind of had four brothers really.
EI: How did that affect you?
IF: I think I’m comfortable with male company, maybe more than if they made me go to an all-girl school. But this was a really exciting project for me, originally, because I was going to come in and be responsible for creating Denise and making her a funny character. But we ran out of time and then we realized, right when we starting shooting, you needed someone to represent the audience, a straight person, and it ended up being Denise, which was sort of, obviously, a challenge for me because I really wanted to get to play funny. I didn’t want to play “the girl” in a movie, and so it was an interesting time. I had been shooting, and when the cameras weren’t rolling, I was making jokes and mucking around, and when the cameras were rolling, I was very serious, which is an interesting way to be at work in comedy. I was the straight man and the boys got to be funny, so obviously I was a bit, what about me?! [Laughs]
EI: And what about the future after Wedding Crashers? Your phone must have been non-stop ringing, and so how many projects did you have lined up?
IF: I’m really fussy. I don’t know why I think I can be, but I am, and I only do stuff that I really love. And I have a movie called Definitely Maybe? coming out in February with Rachel Weisz, the English actress, which I haven’t seen yet. So yeah, Wedding Crashers opened more doors for me, but I realized after Wedding Crashers that there aren’t many comic opportunities for women in Hollywood. All the scripts are written for men and you play the girl in Hot Rod and you play the small parts, like a Gloria character rather than getting to be the protagonist, and there’s never a female Clousseau… and I sort of got bummed about that. So 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.
EI: So your projects are getting greenlighted?
IF: Yeah, they’ve been bought, but who knows?
EI: There’s Groupies and… ?
IF: Cookie Clean, and I pitched something else this week, but I won’t say it out aloud because I’m superstitious.
EI: Are these projects for you to star in?
EI: And you wrote them?
IF: Yeah, essentially, but I also hired writers. But I come up with the idea, or an idea is brought to me, and then I work together with them. I just think there are so many female comedians in Hollywood. I love Amy Poehler and Sarah Silverman, but there aren’t that many opportunities.
EI: You wrote Groupies with Amy Poehler?
IF: Yes, I did.
EI: How did you meet her?
IF: It was very showbizzy. I told my agent that I was a fan and then we got to have lunch.
EI: You’re trying to create something new in your new projects?
EI: How did your career come about? Were you a stand-up comedienne?
IF: No, I don’t think of myself as a comedienne but as a comic actress. But I do like standup, actually, when it’s good, and I feel really embarrassed for them when it’s bad. [Laughs] It’s one of the worst feelings in the world, watching someone not quite pull it off onstage. [Laughs]
EI: Are you actually booked up for the future?
IF: I am booked up for my personal life. I can’t think beyond that.
EI: It’s amazing how many people have babies and they’re paranoid about missing out on work.
IF: Oh God, no.
EI: And the pressure to lose the weight…
IF: Oh, no. Not for me. I don’t have anything planned ever again. [Laughs]
EI: Do you live in LA?
IF: In between LA and London.
EI: So you have a house here?
IF: No, we rent. We do the classic.
EI: I read a quote where it said you were the one to find the house for Victoria Beckham.
IF: She did? By the way, I don’t know why they say I said that quote because it’s just not true. I don’t think I have ever found one.
EI: Are you going to the big party on Sunday–the big Beckham’s welcoming party?
IF: What party? Look at me! Please, I’m out of the house. I came here. Give me a break. I’m not going to a party. [Laughs]
EI: What do you like doing when you’re at home with your feet up?
IF: Right now, cooking. [Laughs] I love cooking, and I just got a new cookbook–the new Donna Hay cookbook. She’s Australian, she’s great, but a lot of her ingredients are hard to find. The Asian stuff–lime leaves etc., and you schlep up to Thai Town and they’re not there.
EI: You can get them off the Internet.
IF: That’s good to know.
EI: What are you craving?
IF: Oh God.
EI: You have a special energy.
IF: Thank you.
EI: Andy said you come into a room and light it up.
IF: Yeah, that’s so nice.
EI: How is it meeting with these Hollywood guys?
IF: These guys actually approached me. I didn’t have to go in and pitch and have to do the spiel. I really liked these guys off the Internet and thought it was funny [Laughs], and although that wasn’t out there, they had Laser Cats, which was really funny, and I just thought they had a really original take on comedy, so when I got the script, I was excited. And also Pam Brady I’m a huge fan of, and I’ve followed her for a while, and she’s a female writer and very good, so I’ve always wanted to work with her, but she’s busy until 2020.
EI: Do you remember the first meeting you had with these guys?
IF: Yes, I do. I remember it was at the MTV awards, and they were talking to me about this project but nothing was greenlit at that point, and we had a meeting at the Mondrian on Sunset–very showbiz.
EI: Do you think you’ll have to audition again?
IF: Oh yeah. You always do, because the great roles everyone wants, and I really enjoy auditioning. I know a lot of people love to be offered a role, but I could think of nothing worse than the responsibility of taking on a role where I didn’t necessarily have the chops or the inclination, because sometimes you read a role and think it’s something you want to do, and then you play around with it and you find that for whatever reason it’s either too close to you or you don’t play like you could with a different role, and so I definitely felt like I love auditioning and I’m always happy to go and earn it and then feel validated that I deserve the role, rather than get it and whatever.
EI: So you’re auditioning against names you really respect.
IF: Yeah, for certain roles, definitely.
EI: How’s that?
IF: I don’t know, and maybe this is an Australian thing, but I always feel that I shouldn’t be here [Laughs], and I just feel, more often than not, when I miss out on a job, it’s always to someone I respect and I think they really deserve it, and more often than not, they suit the role better.
EI: At the time of Wedding Crashers, he told us you beat out an Oscar winner for that, and at the time, you said you didn’t believe it. Did you investigate that?
IF: Yeah I did, and it was true, and I can’t remember who it was. Well, it may have been… I don’t want to say because it’s bad karma. But yeah, it’s true but it’s amazing.
EI: Have you met any unlikely stars who have come up to you and said they loved you in Wedding Crashers?
IF: Yes, quite a few, and it’s always been very shocking. But the one who I really wanted to be a fan, who I’m the biggest fan of, is Christopher Guest, and I was hoping… I was like, “Wedding Crashers? Me? Wedding Crashers?” But no, he didn’t say anything, but he was very charming. But why should he have seen that? He does his own it! I just love him and I’m such a big fan, and I was honored to meet him at all. I’d been watching Live Earth and had seen him doing Spinal Tap, which, for me, was such a huge thrill and influential movie in my life when I was a youngster.
EI: Did anyone suggest you do a Demi Moore and do a pregnant nude on the cover?
IF: [Laughs] Oh no! [Laughs]
‘Hot Rod’ is in theaters now from Paramount Pictures