Isla Fisher: “Bachelorette” Behaving Badly
Actress delivers a buzzy performance as a blacked out bridesmaid.
It’s been a while since Fisher has graced an American film – her last couple gigs were voice-only stints in “Rango” and the upcoming “Rise of the Guardians” – but in “Bachelorette” she proves she can still deliver on that unique blend of adorable vulnerability and hilariously scary life choices that cemented her stardom in “Wedding Crashers” and “Confessions of a Shopaholic.”
Fisher – a doting mom to two kids with husband Sacha Baron Cohen – chats exclusively about how she brought the raunchy, rowdy comedy’s cocktail-swilling, substance-ingesting, going-nowhere-fast character Katie to life. And what a dream come true working on “The Great Gatsby” has been.
What was it like seeing this script for the first time, and figuring your way into a character that you could play both broadly funny and with some subtle pathos?
I think what’s interesting about this material is that we’ve all seen these types of drug-overdosing, anorexia, alcoholism [characters] – we’ve seen a lot in the indie world and in mainstream movies, but to see it within a comedic structure, was definitely surprising and kind of groundbreaking, which is why I was attracted to the material. Then Katie herself was a very interesting character to me, because here’s somebody who’s not educated and doesn’t care. She’s sort of still stuck in that high school mentality of feeling entitled to something, like the world owes her something. She’s an egomaniac. She’s sort of essentially a kind of bad person at a bad place in her life, and she goes and does all these bad things, but it was finding the comedy within that world that was a challenge at times. Being a mother of two and not really relating to the characters or the world, I had to sort of work extra hard to make sure that I was playing a Katie that everybody knew, that girl that people are like, ‘I know, I’ve got a friend…’ or ‘I know somebody who’s just like that.’
It’s not your world now, but have you encountered these “Bachelorette”-type ladies in real life?
Not really, actually. When I read the material, it was funny because all the other girls were like, ‘Oh, yeah – this is me and my friends,’ or ‘I know this one.’ And I don’t know why – whether it was growing up in Australia, if it’s a cultural thing or whatever – but we never were kind of mean to each other like that. If somebody got something that we really wanted, whether it was the role in the debating team or whatever, we were always just like, ‘Oh, you got that – Go!’ I guess we were more spiritually evolved than these girls.
Was this an opportunity to do some sisterly bonding with your costars Kirsten Dunst and Lizzy Caplan, acting out all of this bad behavior?
Totally! Kirsten I’ve always been a fan of and I knew what she was doing was sort of different from anything that I’ve seen her do, and she felt the same about me. Then Lizzy, I didn’t really know her stuff, but she just has this wonderful ability to be equal parts tough and vulnerable. I found that kind of beguiling to see.
Are you finding more and more parts that suit you, give you the right amount of comedy and acting challenges?
No. I think it’s kind of static. I just think that I’m finding more and more courage within myself to take on things that maybe…in the past I was quite protective about what I did and I was quite precious about how I would be perceived. But that’s what’s great about having kids: it’s sort of the death of ego, and so then when you read material I’m no longer judgmental of the people that I would play. I’m just more excited for a challenge, and I care about my career greatly. I’m a very passionate actor and I love acting. But at the same time I’m not married to outcomes in the same way I was as a younger actor, because I have a family and that’s my priority.
Are you surprised at the way that audiences seem shocked at the way that women can be raunchy and rowdy, and they like it?
Yeah. That’s so surprising to me. It never crossed my mind that this was a film that guys would go and see. I think it probably just fulfills their fears that ‘beaitches are crazy,’ and this is a bunch of girls acting crazy.
Do you have a group of long-term friends that you can be that way with if you choose to, that you trust each other and can be as obnoxious as you want?
Yes, definitely. Absolutely. I’m still friends with my girls from high school…I’m incredibly loyal. I never lose my friends. I guard my friendships, and I’ve been really fortunate to not bump into any of those your husbands don’t get along or any of the speed humps that can breakup friendships. I’ve been really blessed with my girls.
Tell me about your experience making “The Great Gatsby.”
Oh, I’m so excited – It’s just sort of been a dream come true. I can kind of feel like I can retire now. All I’ve ever wanted is to work with Baz Luhrmann, because he’s such a genius and I love that material. I grew up studying that book at school, and so it’s kind of just been like eating the most delicious and delicate cake every day. Going to work was like an out of body experience. I loved every second.
Having studied the book, what did you want to see preserved in the film version and what unique Baz Luhrmann element were you excited to see layered in?
I suppose that it’s just I love the story and the class contrasts in the book. I wanted that, and he has kept all the heart and a lot of the horror of the book, but he’s just made it breathe. He’s given it that ’20’s, Flapper girl spirit, when people just really let loose in a way that they hadn’t, after the industrial revolution. I haven’t seen the movie, so I’m nervous to talk about it, but I bet it’s going to be brilliantly Baz.