Isla Fisher Interview, Confessions of a Shopaholic
Isla Fisher recently won rave reviews for her role opposite Ryan Reynolds in the romantic comedy, “Definitely, Maybe,” which also starred Abigail Breslin and Rachel Weisz. She was also a featured voice in the hit animated adaptation of the Dr. Seuss Classic, “Horton Hears a Who,” which also featured the voices of Steve Carell and Jim Carrey. Fisher is most widely recognized for her critically acclaimed performance as Vince Vaughn’s off-kilter love interest in the blockbuster “Wedding Crashers.”
MoviesOnline had the pleasure of chatting with Isla at the Los Angeles press day for her new comedy, “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” from producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director P.J. Hogan (My Best Friend’s Wedding). The screenplay by Tracey Jackson and Tim Firth and Kayla Alpert is based on the books Confessions of a Shopaholic and Shopaholic Takes Manhattan by Sophie Kinsella. The film also stars Hugh Dancy, Joan Cusack, John Goodman, John Lithgow, Kristin Scott Thomas, and Krysten Ritter.
In the glamorous world of New York City, Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fischer) is a fun-loving girl who is really good at shopping –- a little too good, perhaps. She dreams of working for her favorite fashion magazine, but can’t quite get her foot in the door –- until ironically, she snags a job as an advice columnist for a financial magazine published by the same company. As her dreams are finally coming true, she goes to ever more hilarious and extreme efforts to keep her past from ruining her future.
Isla Fisher turns in a terrific performance in “Confessions of a Shopaholic” and we really appreciated her time. Here’s what she had to tell us about her new movie:
QUESTION: WHAT WAS THE MOST FUN FASHION DISCOVERY FOR YOU?
FISHER: The most fun fashion discovery was just to use a lot of color in my wardrobe. I’m fairly conservative normally and I just feel like Patricia Fields brought out the color in me. I now love to wear color.
QUESTION: THIS IS ACTUALLY A REHAB MOVIE ABOUT CONTROLLING CONSPICUOUS CONSUMPTION. CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THIS MOVIE IN TERMS OF THE ZEITGEIST? ALSO, CAN YOU COMMENT ON YOUR FAN DANCE?
FISHER: Well, obviously this movie was conceived during a different economic period and the lessons that Rebecca Bloomwood learned in the movie we’ve all been learning recently. So it feels very topical. I’m really proud of the responsible way that we handle it at the end of the movie, that issue and in regard to the fan dance, it’s always been a comic dream of mine to attempt to seduce a man during a dance that’s actually repulsive. So the opportunity of doing that arose during this movie and I embraced it. I really enjoyed every minute of it.
QUESTION: WAS IT CHOREOGRAPHED OR WERE YOU FOLLOWING SOMEONE?
FISHER: No, no, they’re all, I’m embarrassed to admit, my own moves [laughs].
QUESTION: WHAT ITEM IN LIFE DO YOU SEE AND CAN’T PASS IT UP, THAT YOU HAVE TO AT LEAST STOP AND LOOK?
FISHER: There’s nothing really material that I can’t pass by. Maybe underwear.
QUESTION: VICTORIA SECRET UNDERWEAR?
FISHER: No. Just out of necessity, just new underwear. It’s not such a good look, not having underwear.
QUESTION: HAVE YOU EXPERIENCED ANY SORT OF CREDIT CARD THEFT LIKE YOUR CHARACTER DOES IN THE MOVIE?
FISHER: Recently, apparently someone had been buying petrol in Texas on my credit card and I wasn’t there. So I did have that experience, but not through any fault of my own.
QUESTION: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT BEING A PART OF THIS BIG CAST, BUT HAVING A MOVIE THAT FOCUSES MOSTLY ON YOU? IS THAT A LOT OF PRESSURE?
FISHER: Yeah. Obviously, I’m very surprised and eternally grateful to Jerry Bruckheimer and completely bewildered as to how I was lucky enough to be chosen to have my own movie. I definitely felt far more responsible for the tone of the movie as a lead than you do as a supporting cast member where you can sort of come in and muck about. On top of that, I was getting to play a beloved character from a book that’s extraordinarily successful and knowing that she was now going to be American and wanting to capture the essence of her as properly as I could added more pressure. But ultimately, when you have an incredible producer like Jerry Bruckheimer behind you and a really amazing cast, it was just an amazing, rewarding creative experience for me.
QUESTION: THERE’S A LOT OF PHYSICAL COMEDY IN THE MOVIE. HOW DID YOU DEVELOP THIS TALENT THAT YOU HAVE FOR PHYSICAL COMEDY?
FISHER: Well, I actually trained at a theater school called L’Ecole Internationale de Theatre Jacques Lecoq in Paris where Simon McBerney who’s a very famous French clown – he’s English actually – and that’s where a lot of the Theatre de Complicite Troupe train and we focus on comedy and mime. So technically, I definitely learned the skill set, but just personally I’ve always been someone who loves to tap into their inner idiot. I’ve always been the clown of my family and I’ve always just enjoyed mucking about and I’m just fortunate that I get paid to do that now.
QUESTION: IN THE BEGINNING OF THE MOVIE YOUR CHARACTER SAYS THAT SHE LIKES STORES MORE THAN MEN. ARE YOU AT ALL LIKE THAT?
FISHER: No. I shop rarely and poorly. I definitely appreciate men more than stores.
QUESTION: WHAT’RE YOUR THOUGHTS ON WORKPLACE ROMANCES?
FISHER: I think that it works out very good for Rebecca Bloomwood in the story because Luke Brandon actually uncovers her voice and helps her to fulfill herself. She doesn’t realize how talented she is until she meets him. For him, he learns to loosen up. That’s why their relationship is so nice, I think. They learn so much from each other. Personally, I’m not a fan of romance in the workplace because you start to see someone everyday.
QUESTION: WHAT WAS IT LIKE WORKING WITH KRYSTEN RITTER ON THIS FILM? DID YOU GUYS HIT IT OFF RIGHT AWAY?
FISHER: I remember on day one I looked over at Krysten’s page and she had written all these notes, all these alternative lines. I’m the only actor that I’ve worked with that does that and I saw straightaway that she was a soul sister because she was already trying to improvise some funny and comedic stuff.
QUESTION: WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE FASHION DESIGNERS?
FISHER: Oh, wow. A part of this business obviously is the pageantry of the red carpet and you get dressed by incredible designers. So I have to say that I love Stella McCartney. I love Vivian Westwood. I love Zac Posen. I tend to go for more kind of classic things. I love Prada. I feel very blessed to wear any of those dresses.
QUESTION: IF YOU SHOP RARELY AND POORLY, HOW DO YOU FILL YOUR CLOSET UP?
FISHER: How do I fill my closet up? I do shop when I need to and I’m fortunate in that I’ve sort of maintained my same size except, obviously, when I was pregnant. So I tend to wear stuff that I have around. When I shop, I just get in and out. I have a mission and I fulfill it.
QUESTION: IS IT ALWAYS A SOLO PROJECT?
FISHER: Usually, yes.
QUESTION: THE TWELVE STEP PROGRAMS IN THE FILM WERE HILARIOUS. DID YOU DO ANY RESEARCH ON THOSE PROGRAMS FOR THE CHARACTER?
FISHER: I did actually. I went to Spender’s Anonymous groups. Under Earners and Over Spender’s groups and it was fascinating. There were all different styles and types of shopping. There’s trophy shopping. Image shopping. Collecting. Bulimic shopping. As funny as it sounds it’s obviously pretty sad too. I definitely learned a lot and just that it affects men as often as women. It was a fascinating experience.
QUESTION: DID YOU GET TO WORK WITH PATRICIA FIELD ON SOME OF THE OUTFITS BECAUSE YOU WEAR SOME REALLY BEAUTIFUL OUTFITS IN THE FILM? WHAT KIND OF INPUT DID YOU HAVE?
FISHER: I did. Patricia was extremely collaborative. I only had one request which is that I wanted Becky to wear extremely high heels so that she could totter. I think there’s nothing funnier than a comedic character tottering and the impracticality of wearing something that clearly doesn’t fit her and is uncomfortable, but she’s a shopaholic and so she has to have it. Patricia is so creative and she clearly knows what she’s talking about. She’s extremely experienced. She did the costumes for ‘Sex and the City’ and ‘The Devil Wears Prada’. So I kind of let go and let her guide me and I really enjoyed the process. At the beginning I couldn’t believe that we were spending forty minutes discussing a belt. I was so frustrated, but then halfway through I suddenly felt like I just began to understand that there really is a sort of science to it. There’s this incredible world of it where people try really hard. It’s not just this, like, I don’t know – ‘That looks cute. I’ll wear that.’ That wasn’t the case.
QUESTION: DID YOU GET TO KEEP ANYTHING?
FISHER: No. I didn’t get to keep anything. Maybe you should ask Jerry about that.
QUESTION: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT BEING CAUGHT IN THE MAYHEM OF THE SAMPLE SALE SCENES? WAS THAT CHOREOGRAPHED OR DID YOU JUST GO FOR IT?
FISHER: No. We had to choreograph that. With all physical comedy you have to know where you’re going to put the cameras and ensure that no one is trampled to death. So we took it fairly seriously. There were a lot of heels on a very shiny surface, but we just had a lot of fun with it. We actually went a lot further. We took it further, but we liked what we kept in the movie which is just the ending, on her straddling the girl rather than pulling down a rack and being removed by security guards.
QUESTION: WAS IT NATURAL DANCING WITH HUGH DANCY?
FISHER: I think she’s a wonderful dancer. What I really loved about Hugh is that he came to the movie and took it seriously, as if he was in a dramatic movie which was so important. As a result, he played the greatest straight man and it gave me, playing Becky Bloomwood, somewhere to go and to be more outrageous and the comedy was mined and grounded in reality because of him. He brought so much integrity and heart to the film. He was a fabulous dancer. He knew the traditional moves much better than me and sort of guided me through that scene.
QUESTION: DO YOU PLAN ON STICKING TO THIS TYPE OF FILM OR ROLE MOVING FORWARD OR DO YOU WANT TO DO DRAMATIC WORK AS WELL?
FISHER: I have to say that I love comedy. I love the freedom that comedy brings, but I’m open to working with any filmmakers. It’s all about the story and the characters for me rather than just the genre.
QUESTION: IS THERE ANYTHING IN YOUR CLOSET THAT YOU LOOK AT NOW AND GO, ‘WHAT WAS I THINKING WHEN I BOUGHT THAT?’
FISHER: Oh, gosh, absolutely. I try to remove those items and give them to friends, but yeah, several times I’ve been suckered into a fashion that wasn’t very flattering on a small frame.
QUESTION: DO YOU HAVE AN EXAMPLE?
FISHER: Now and then I’ve seen…well, I’m terrible with peer pressure. So once, several shop assistants convinced me that I looked good even though I can tell that I don’t and I will then in fact make a purchase and live to regret it.
QUESTION: HOW HAVE YOU BEEN AT BALANCING THE CHALLENGES OF MOTHERHOOD AND CONTINUING TO WORK? ALSO, WERE YOU A FAN OF THE BOOKS BEFORE YOU CAME TO THIS PROJECT?
FISHER: Motherhood is my favorite topic in my personal life, but I don’t discuss it personally just because I want my daughter to have privacy and a normal life. I was a huge fan of the books, yes. I read them all long before I’d heard about the project and when I heard about the project and that Jerry Bruckheimer was producing, I was obviously a huge fan of his, and I just didn’t think in my wildest dreams that I would even get a meeting, let alone get the role. I literally can still not believe that I got the role. It’s very exciting for me.
QUESTION: CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR PROCESS WITH COMEDY BECAUSE IT’S SO ORIGINAL? DO YOU WORK WITH A MIRROR BEFORE DOING A SCENE AND THINK OF A DIFFERENT WAY TO APPROACH EACH SCENE?
FISHER: No, no. I just try to keep really loose and stay in the moment and not have any sort of hope for what I’m going to do. I’m not a method actress. I prepare at home and then I just try not to be self-conscious. A lot of people ask how come I got the role or how I got into comedy and I just think it’s because I’m willing, and a lot of actors and actresses aren’t willing to pull their faces.
QUESTION: SO IT’S KIND OF NATURAL FOR YOU?
QUESTION: WHO ARE YOU WEARING TODAY?
FISHER: Zac Posen.
QUESTION: DID YOU FEEL A RESPONSIBILITY TO LEARN FINNISH FOR THIS ROLE, FOR THAT SCENE?
FISHER: [laughs] No, but I really enjoyed speaking it at the end of the movie. It was a lot of fun.
QUESTION: YOU WROTE YOUNG ADULT NOVELS EARLY IN YOUR CAREER. HAVE YOU READ THE ‘TWILIGHT’ SERIES?
FISHER: No, I haven’t read the ‘Twilight’ series, but I’m very excited about it. I haven’t actually seen the movie yet, but I hear that it’s great.
QUESTION: Do you really believe that a scarf can bring you love?
“Confessions of a Shopaholic” opens in theaters on February 13th.