‘Back to the Outback’ Star Isla Fisher Talks Netflix’s Animated ‘Love Letter’ to Australia
Just in time for the holiday season, Netflix’s newest animated zoological romp about animals escaping captivity is by far the best hug you’ll receive this year. Seasoned with vibrant colors, culture and chuckles for the whole family, the charmingly perfect 92-minute feature Back to the Outback from director Harry Cripps is an animated adventure that highlights the complexities behind the real meaning of beauty. While it might encapsulate a lesson we see frequently, there are great details showcased through witty writing and warmth with its message.
Featuring an all-star voice cast among the likes of Eric Bana as the “evil” zookeeper Chaz, Guy Pearce as a lovesick spider and comedian Tim Minchin as the obnoxious yet adorable koala, the “motley crew” of characters is led by actress Isla Fisher’s fearless Maddie — a venomous taipan snake with a heart of gold. In an exclusive with PopCulture.com ahead of the film’s streaming debut on Netflix Dec. 10 and following its limited theatrical release this past month, Fisher admits she was drawn to the role initially because of how it functioned as a “love letter” to her native Australia, while the writing warmed her heart.
“I thought there was something so sweet about this motley crew of deadly creatures that are outcast by society, that go on this journey together,” Fisher told PopCulture. “They all had such cute little individual personalities and the way they interacted was so funny and I thought it could just be something really special.”
Fisher states how the contrast of her character’s appearance and reputation versus the film’s message plays most accurately to the story’s soul. “It’s just this idea that [Maddie] blossoms on the journey that everything she hates about herself is actually what makes her special and that’s a great message. Because if you love yourself, you’re going to be okay — and even if you’re a little bit deadly, like in Maddie’s case. So I love that little idea and also I love the fact that she developed into being such a fantastic leader and helping get everyone back to the outback and then really keeping everyone together.”
The 45-year-old mom of three admits Maddie is a “complicated character” for a movie like this, where things appear more simple or basic. But it was through its characters that she really felt there was room for some very impactful messages. “And her relationship with Pretty Boy develops into something quite serious when they realize that he’s also feeling marginalized too. He’s this superficial, Instagram star, koala bear, and he’s also being stereotyped and being judged for the outside,” she said. “Yet she hasn’t taken the time to see the real him either and so she’s guilty of the same thing, she feels like he’s not really seeing who she is. He’s just seeing her as ugly and I thought that scene was very well written actually and sensitive to that idea.”
Admitting how social media has perpetuated more of a confrontational culture, Fisher says she hopes audiences take from the movie how it’s not just about judging a book by its cover but taking the time to get to know one another. “Particularly right now, it feels like we’re so polarized. We are always fighting. It would be just so nice if we could just take a moment to breathe and see the other one’s perspective and just connect again and come together again,” she said.
While it hasn’t been confirmed just yet, a sequel for Back to the Outback is a welcomed idea from Fisher and no doubt, audiences as the film will crawl its way up the Netflix trending charts this weekend following a well-earned Rotten Tomatoes freshness score at 89%. “I’d love there to be a sequel for this story!” Fisher enthused. “I think that that landscape and those characters, it’s just like — we are just at the tip. We could go so much deeper with all of them and get to know, even Zoe and Frank and Nigel better and see them go on another adventure. Yeah, I’d like to see them go on another adventure.”
Back to the Outback is dangerously cute and now streaming on Netflix.