The Daily Telegraph (Aus) – 2009

Isla Fisher’s Confessions of a Shopaholic Is The Big Time

Sitting in a plush suite inside New York’s Ritz Carlton and wearing impossibly high Jimmy Choo shoes, 32-year-old Fisher looks every bit as young as she did playing troubled teen Shannon Reed on TV soap Home And Away in the late 1990s.

But those days are long gone. Now, she has that subtle international accent peculiar to so many nomadic actors.

“That’s so annoying,” she says, sounding part British.

But still Aussie enough. “Thank you,” she says, relieved. When she is not filming, Fisher lives in London with actor/fiance Sacha Baron Cohen (of Borat fame) and their daughter Olive, 16 months.

Born in Oman to Scottish parents, Fisher was raised in Perth, lived in Sydney while part of the Home And Away cast and then left Australia in her early 20s to sate her appetite for theatre in Paris.

There, she enrolled in the well-known Jacques Lecoq theatre college – known in the industry as clown school.

Her lessons there prepared her for her latest role – one that looks set to thrust her firmly into Hollywood’s spotlight.

The bubbly Fisher plays shopping-mad journalist Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions Of A Shopaholic, the screen adaptation of the books by Sophie Kinsella.

The role, Fisher’s first Hollywood lead, demands big, physical comedy – a challenge she met with her natural comic flair.

“It’s definitely not a hard comedy but it has some great comedic moments, some great heart and for me it was great to play in a romantic comedy where it’s not all about the romance – she’s not sitting around moping, waiting for a date – she’s someone who has a full life, a career and her friends and her family,” Fisher says.

Bloomwood constantly throws herself across tables, over desks and into large objects. It was work so bruising, Fisher wore wear knee and elbow pads in some scenes.

“I’ve always been doing a lot of physical comedy but I’ve just kept it to my private life, for my mates, now I get paid to do it – that’s pretty amazing,” she says.

Despite her passion for her work, she considers herself a mother first and foremost, and had to juggle the demands of parenthood and acting simultaneously.

Baby Olive was on set during filming and costume designer Pat Field – the stylist behind Sex And The City – had to make Fisher’s outfits newborn-friendly.

“All my costumes were breastfeeding-proof,” Fisher says. “Olive probably knew the costumes better than me.”

Blockbuster producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who bought the film rights to Kinsella’s books eight years ago, hired Fisher a personal trainer to help her lose the weight she had gained during pregnancy.

“I wasn’t allowed to eat bread, pasta, muffins – the list left me nothing so obviously I was living a double life,” she says.

She told some white lies about her diet, but still managed to shed the extra weight.

“I honestly think it was breastfeeding that took the weight off,” she says.

Fisher has never been much of a fashionista – on Oscars night, she stayed home in her Ugg boots.

“The first fitting went for about 12 hours, we were having conversations about belts that went for 45 minutes,” Fisher says.

“I was starting to sweat, I couldn’t handle it at all, but as I got used to the process I learned all the lingo that goes with fashion and got really into it.

“I wanted every silhouette of the character to say ‘shopaholic’ and I wanted her in very high heels because there’s nothing funnier than a comedic character tottering on really high heels.

“I thought the bigger the better.”

She won serious praise from those who worked with her. Bruckheimer calls her “the next Lucille Ball”, while Australian director P.J. Hogan says: “I love improvisation and she has a real gift for it.”

Her fellow actors were flattering, too.

“You can see in the movie the range that she has,” says emerging British actor Hugh Dancy, who plays Bloomwood’s magazine editor love interest.

Even Kinsella, who guided the actors and direction on set, lauded her performance: “I thought Isla did an amazing job.”

So what does the woman herself think?

“It’s hard to be objective about it,” she says. “After the movie wrapped I was involved with re-shoots and it’s been a part of my life for a really long time, so for me I can’t be objective about the outcome, I have no idea how it will be received.

“I’m happy with it.”