Isla Fisher Interview
“You’ve got to always make sure you’re going for the joke.”
Isla Fisher may be best known as the crazy redhead in ‘Wedding Crashers’ and Sacha Baron Cohen’s fiancée, but she just might become Hollywood’s next big leading lady with her starring role in the chick lit-inspired ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic.’
Raised in Australia, Fisher landed her first big role Down Under on the soap opera ‘Home and Away.’ But she longed to be a comedian, so she moved to Paris and studied clowning (really!). Since her breakout performance in ‘Wedding Crashers,’ the actress has found herself living under a microscope because of her relationship with Cohen, with whom she has a 16-month-old daughter, Olive.
The private star opens up about her love of comedy (and her family), what it took to become a ‘Shopaholic’ and who’s really the funny one at home.
1. Were you a fan of the book, ‘Confessions of a Shopaholic,’ before you landed the role?
Yeah. I love the way [author] Sophie Kinsella writes the character. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would get to play Rebecca Bloomwood. And I’m still sort of really blown away that I was chosen. As a reader of the books, I would have been so disappointed if someone hadn’t captured her heart. And I like to think that we did in the movie. You know, Sophie Kinsella and her editor, who have lived with the character for years, both feel that Rebecca’s there on the screen, so that’s the greatest review that I can receive.
2. The film doesn’t blatantly push sexist stereotypes, even though it could. Were you concerned about that?
I was very happy when we started shooting the shopaholics meetings and saw that there were people from all different ethnicities and both genders were represented. It’s always difficult with comedy because at the end of the day you just want it to be funny and for people not to take it seriously. But, you know, people always want to look at comedy in a deep way and notice stereotypes. And I guess we can’t help that. But you’ve got to always make sure you’re going for the joke.
3. Hugh Dancy is a total charmer in the movie. Is he like that in real life?
Yes, extremely. He’s also very intelligent and very down-to-earth. I loved that he played the role so straight — it was as if he was in a dramatic role, and that allowed me to tap into my inner idiot. He’s just a perfect straight man.
4. Is it hard balancing your blossoming career with being a new mom?
As much as I love my career and I’m really grateful to be here talking about this movie that definitely feels like the pinnacle of my career, it’s sort of pales in comparison with the beautiful responsibility of my family life.
5. Speaking of family life, do you and Sacha help each other decide what movies to do or ever share tips on how to play a comic scene? And who’s the truly funny one behind closed doors?
Most people in relationships, whether romantic or platonic, end up talking about all aspects of their life. Sorry, that was the worst get out ever … [Laughs] Oh, Sacha’s a lot funnier than me. [Laughs] I think he’s the funniest man in the world.
6. Is there an actress that you look up to?
Goldie Hawn has always been a huge favorite of mine. I grew up watching her films — everything from ‘Private Benjamin’ to ‘Overboard.’ I just think that she has a vulnerability and does such great physical comedy. She just lights up the screen. I think she’s fabulous.
7. Does physical comedy come naturally to you?
I guess. I mean, it’s very planned. I work it out. Like when I’m dancing in ‘Shopaholic,’ for example. The fan dance was an idea I had a couple of years back about a girl who wants to seduce a guy with what she believes is a very enchanting, sexy dance but is actually repulsive. And I pitched it to the director and I was lucky that he was open to suggestions. And the same for when I retrieve the letter by hiding in a coat and swinging out. That was an idea I had at clown school when I was training in Paris. But basically I sort of think of an idea at home and then I just work out how I’m going to do the slide or the fall and just come in and try it.
8. ‘Shopaholic’ features a lot of high-profile co-stars and cameos, but was there one person who really stood out on the set?
Kristin Scott Thomas. I mean, I loved working with Joan Cusack too. She was interesting, and I learned a lot from her. She improvised a lot, keeping it really fresh. And John Goodman, I’ve loved him since ‘The Big Lebowski.’ But working with Kristin Scott Thomas was incredible. That woman — I knew she could make us weep, but to watch her make us laugh, as well. I just thought, she’s the real deal. And her accent in the movie is hilarious. And just her approach — she comes to work and seems as though she hasn’t even read the scene and then she starts to work and it’s just magical. She is absolutely amazing.
9. What was it like working opposite Johnny Depp in the upcoming animated film ‘Rango’?
It was really great. I don’t normally do animated movies because it’s pretty sterile, you’re alone in a booth and you’re talking to yourself. But this time we were all on a stage and acted the movie out. Then while the scene was still fresh in our minds we would go into the sound booth and recapture the emotions in the dialogue. I found that hugely rewarding. And, of course, all my scenes with Johnny were amazing.
10. Did being a new mom push you toward making another animated film even though you don’t normally like the process?
No. Well, perhaps subconsciously, yes. But I did it because Gore Verbinski is a very smart, talented director. And I think Johnny Depp is a very interesting, brilliant actor who has made fabulous choices, and he’s physically so perfect.