Isla Fisher opens up about kissing Wonder Woman
THE Aussie actor reflects on her lively literary alter ego, how writer’s block affects her waistline, and her special nostalgia for … horse poo.
You have said you are a “goody-two-shoes”. So is your venture into writing kids’ books with the Marge series just an excuse to get loose and unladylike?
I wouldn’t say that’s the motivation, but there’s definitely fun to be had living vicariously through Marge. She’s this ebullient character who can do whatever she wants — to get inside her imagination and write that is wonderful. I love acting, but in some ways this is a much more satisfying experience.
Where do you write?
I love to write at this coffee shop near my house. Every time I have writer’s block, I order another croissant. It’s terrible — carb overload. If I have ideas, I say them into my iPhone’s dictaphone app and email it to myself later. I’ll do that in carpool, because I seem to spend most of my life in carpool.
Are you a quick writer or does it take you a while?
Well, I’m not a writer. I’m an actress. And acting is just another way of telling stories. But no, I’m not quick, though I’d like to hope I’m improving. Stories were an important part of my childhood because I had a complicated cultural identity: I was born in Oman to Scottish parents and moved to Australia when I was six. I was in a new school every year from primary school through to high school. I had to learn to be funny to make new friends and shake off the stigma of being the short, red-headed new girl with extra-large ears. And on the day my material sucked and nobody wanted to eat lunch with me, I hid my nose in a book.
Surely having three young kids helps you take off on flights of fancy when you write?
As a mum, I felt like I was losing my audience when it came to bedtime entertainment. The kids were sick of my animal noises and impressions of their friends’ parents.
Did having children lower your threshold for gross-out humour?
You know what? I already had a pretty puerile sense of humour. I didn’t come from some sort of rarefied bubble when it came to gross stuff. My first job, aged 11, was picking up horse poo in the heat of Western Australia, putting it in a bag and selling it on the side of the road.
I had brothers; I played with slime. They would roll me up in a rug and make the dog lick my face. I played in the dirt. And again, I sold horse poo for a living!
You’ve been living in the US for a long time. Name one American tradition you still cannot get behind.
Peanut butter and jelly. I don’t understand it. Peanut butter is such a robust, gooey thing — to mix it with jam? Luckily, I have never had to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for anyone. Nobody in my family has asked, but I’m always braced for the moment it happens.
Speaking of cultural changes, you converted to Judaism ahead of your marriage to Sacha Baron Cohen. Have you learnt to make a good matzo ball soup?
Of course. Of course I can make a good matzo ball soup! But I will be honest: I have never made matzo from scratch. I buy the packet and then just roll it into balls.
Last year, in the film Keeping Up With The Joneses, you got to kiss Wonder Woman’s Gal Gadot. She’s quite tall, you’re not. Did you have to wear killer heels for that?
I was already wearing them because I was supposed to be dressed like a sexy spy. But Gal did kindly bend down, so it worked fine. It was definitely one of those moments, though: I was looking at Gal Gadot, dressed in this one-piece catsuit, and I thought, “It’s like we’re in two different movies. I’m a hobbit and she is a James Bond goddess. Why am I here? I need a ladder to reach her.” Let’s just say it was a very humbling experience.
You’ve said it was nerve-racking to dress your husband as Ali G for the Oscars in 2016. With the benefit of time, though, would you do it again?
Oh, yeah. Because the material he did had everyone howling with laughter. I think they want those shows to be funny and subversive and surprising — it’s entertainment, isn’t it?
In your AACTAs acceptance speech last year, you thanked Donald Trump for “showing the world that unqualified orange people can win things”. But if you had to forgo being a redhead, tell us: would you choose to be blonde, brunette, black or millennial pink?
Wow. [Pauses.] Brunette, and I know that’s boring. Blonde is tough over the age of 40 if it’s not natural. On me, anyway. I don’t want to offend anyone with blonde hair. I’ve just got too many freckles to go there.
* MARGE AND THE GREAT TRAIN RESCUE (ALLEN & UNWIN, $14.99) IS OUT ON WEDNESDAY.