Esquire (US) – March 2007

Women We Love: Isla Fisher

Isla Fisher is a girl who gets what she wants. She did it in Wedding Crashers. She did it in Hollywood. And now she’s doing it with our lunch.

Before she arrives, the room is quiet. The clink of fork to plate over at a corner table, ice water splashing from pitcher to glass, chatter filtering in from the garden tables.

Isla Fisher appears. She is a tight little bundle — just five foot two, part of what made her domination of the mammoth Vince Vaughn in Wedding Crashers so satisfying — but when she whirls into the room, you feel it. She hugs a couple of people she knows, giggling through every sentence, running her hand repeatedly through her cayenne hair, which falls differently every time. People look up from their meals, even here, the celebrity ant nest that is L.A.’s Chateau Marmont. Noticing the blazer on her lunch companion, she pouts that she should have worn something nicer than this — “this” being a clingy knit dress with a deep V-neck, lace stockings, knee-high boots, and an oversized cardigan that is somehow the most alluring part of the ensemble. She tugs at the cuffs, stretching the sleeves, pulling it tighter over her shoulders the way women do when they’re cold.

She is both utterly attentive and, it will later set in, completely in control of the afternoon. She has requested a lunchtime meeting, but she declares early on that she’s not hungry. “You eat, though,” she says, the Australian accent husky from celebrating the night before. (Her fiance, Sacha Baron Cohen, had just been awarded his Golden Globe.) “The burger is the best thing here.” It is a recommendation, yes, but also a direct order.

Before her tomcat performance as Gloria in Wedding Crashers afforded her more fame than any previous role — Australian Girl No. 1 in something called Out of Depth, a vampy two-night stand in the discount-bin gem Dallas 362, Shaggy’s love interest in Scooby-Doo — you wonder whether Fisher would have shown this much swagger, wolfing down handfuls of her interviewer’s food, turning the recorder on and off at will, going on excitedly about this director and that. Actually, she might have. “I’d love to work with Spike Jonze,” she says, the baby-doll eyes widening, staring at the ceiling. “He’s so out there. And I love — I don’t know how to pronounce his name — Alegandro? Alezandro? How do you say it? Ale — you know, Babel.” She is shaking the ketchup bottle furiously. “Here, I’ll help you with the tomato sauce. There’s a whole list of things that can prevent you from getting roles. Okay, please don’t be disgusted by what I’m about to do,” she says, grabbing a handful of fries with her tiny fist. “You’re not good-looking enough or you’re too short or you don’t look sporty enough. So after Wedding Crashers, I just got so many more opportunities.”

To play Luvlee, for instance, the criminal’s misguided girlfriend in The Lookout, due this month, alongside Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Jeff Daniels. Luvlee is the inverse of Gloria: a sweet girl inadvertently doing harm, rather than a naughty girl fooling you with her sweetness. As written, Luvlee was sinister; Fisher decided to make her spineless and vulnerable instead. “I don’t even think I talked to the director about that,” she says. (Not that she’s entering the dreaded serious-actress phase or anything — she just finished Wedding Daze, a goofball movie in which she’s the female lead, alongside Jason Biggs.)

As she leaves, everyone glances up from their Caesar salads again. She runs into Elizabeth Banks, with whom she just finished filming the romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe. A director stops her and tells her, almost panting, that he has a script to send her. A rumpled-looking Al Franken does a double take. And then she’s gone, the room quiet again.