InStyle cover girl: Isla Fisher
Unassuming and playful, Isla Fisher has never lost her delightful Aussie charm, despite being based overseas for the better part of a decade. Together with her husband, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, and their two daughters, Olive, 5, and Elula, 2, Fisher splits her time between LA and London. This month she talks to InStyle about her new role in the wickedly funny comedy Bachelorette, and being one half of one of Hollywood’s most intriguing power couples.
In movies like Wedding Crashers, Confessions of a Shopaholic and now Bachelorette, you consistently play extreme women. What draws you to these manic roles?
“I played a bipolar nymphomaniac in Wedding Crashers and now I’m playing a coke whore. I’m just trying to make my dad proud [laughs]. Truthfully, I’ve always enjoyed playing characters that are unusual people. There’s a bunch of actors who can play normal people better than I can. I enjoy it more when I can play someone who exists in a heightened reality, someone a little more wild.”
In other words, opposites attract. Do you have much of a social life in LA?
“I would say I stay in more than I go out. In London we go out a lot more. I like to cook and entertain but I’m finding it increasingly harder to do so on a bigger scale because there’s a lot going on. I do have a brand new Viking oven that is amazing; it cooks everything perfectly. I try to make simple food that I love. I always circle back to my Donna Hay [recipes]; she’s a legend. And I’m into Ottelenghi: The Cookbook. It’s by two amazing chefs, one’s Palestinian and one’s Israeli, and they make sublime Middle Eastern dishes.”
Do you ever ponder having a life back in Australia?
“Anything is possible. I love going home. My stepbrother Connor, who I’m very close to, his wife and their daughter live in Sydney. I try and get over as much as I can. Right now my career is here, but I also spend half my time in London. It’s great to be in Europe since my dad lives in Germany these days, and my mum and brothers are in Greece.”
It sounds like most of the family has moved on. What was it like growing up in Perth?
“I loved it. I really enjoyed my high school. I went to Memphis Ladies’ College and I had the nicest group of friends who I am still extremely close to. When I would go away and shoot they would save me a chair next to them at lunch. They never gave me a hard time for being an actress; there was no tall poppy syndrome. No one called me ‘Pig Face’.”
But I read that someone once referred to you as “Slug Face”…
“My brothers did! They went through a stage of giving me a hard time. We all gave each other a hard time, but we were all close in age so you can imagine adolescence in our house. It was pretty wild. With four brothers, I grew up a bit of a tomboy and I’m grateful for the experience. I’m comfortable with men and I don’t have any issues about having male friends.”
At the age of 16, with your parents’ blessing, you moved to Queensland to film Paradise Beach. Would you be happy if, in a decade or so, one of your daughters relocated to New York for work?
“No. Way. I do remember my parents were so supportive and they still are now. I had a great experience on that show. With hindsight I wish I hadn’t started my career so young, it would have been nice to have gone to university or have had more of a normal experience growing up. But I wouldn’t change anything.”
Can you reveal anything about your turn in the forthcoming The Great Gatsby?
“I can only say that I remember seeing Romeo and Juliet when I was 16 and thinking if I could work with Baz Luhrmann, I would die happy. I know it sounds like a cliché but it really was a dream come true and you could hardly wipe the smile from my face on set for the entire time. To be in Baz’s world—he’s such a visual genius and an incredibly unique storyteller—was an utter privilege.”
F Scott Fitzgerald wrote of your character, Myrtle Wilson, mistress to Tom Buchanan: “She carried her surplus flesh sensuously.” Did you have to gain weight for the role?
“I was breast-feeding at the time, so I definitely carried some surplus flesh [laughs]. I did gain some weight for the role, to be honest. I hopefully stayed as true to the book as I could. The Great Gatsby is one of those extraordinary books that changes in meaning when you read it at different stages of your life. I’ve probably read it 10 times, and each time I’ve connected with different characters.”
For more from our exclusive shoot and interview with Isla Fisher, pick up the December issue of InStyle, on sale now.