The Financial Times – May 18th 2018

Q&A with actor Isla Fisher
‘I’m very afraid of boredom. I have nervous energy that has to be channelled’

Isla Fisher, 42, has appeared in films including Confessions of a Shopaholic, Wedding Crashers, Definitely, Maybe and The Great Gatsby, as well as the TV series Arrested Development. She is the author of the Marge in Charge children’s books.

What was your childhood or earliest ambition?

I saw Elvis Presley on telly when I was very small and thought I would marry him. When I got into reading, I wanted to be an author. I would copy out the Mr Men books from beginning to end with my own interpretations and illustrations. When my mum began amateur dramatics, I went to watch rehearsals, and that sparked my interest in performance.

Private school or state school? University or straight into work?

I went to a different primary school — all state schools — every year, and that’s where I developed my interest in comedy. I had to make friends quickly so I learnt to tap into my inner idiot to become popular. Then a private school, Methodist Ladies’ College [in Perth, Western Australia]. I didn’t finish — I left right before my exams, which was a bit ridiculous, and flitted off to Queensland to begin shooting a show called Paradise Beach. It was famous for putting actresses in bikinis — if you went shopping, or to get a coffee, or even to a funeral, you wore a bikini, for reasons unknown.

I went from Paradise Beach straight on to Home and Away. My version of university was clown school in Paris, where I studied with Jacques Lecoq. Going to drama school would have felt very methody and intense but comedy was something I loved.

How physically fit are you?

I’m not.

Ambition or talent: which matters more to success?

When it comes to acting, ambition will get you into the room, but talent is what scores you the role.

How politically committed are you?

I don’t get political publicly but I definitely read and keep up with as much as I can. I have BBC News on my phone and it’s the first thing I check in the morning.

Who was or still is your mentor?

My mum, in every aspect of my life. Aside from believing in me and being an awesome role model, she gives me great advice. She’s enabled me to carry on working while having a family. She also taught me how to structure a story when we wrote together.

What would you like to own that you don’t currently possess?

An impeccable memory would be amazing. I’d also love a small beach house in Australia. And I wouldn’t mind a tail — I could do with swinging between some branches. And a beautiful singing voice.

What’s your biggest extravagance?


In what place are you happiest?

With my family.

What ambitions do you still have?

I make every decision around the health and happiness of my family.

What drives you on?

I’m very afraid of boredom. I want to model a good work ethic for my kids. And I have a lot of nervous energy that has to be channelled. Being productive is so satisfying.

What is the greatest achievement of your life so far?

My family, definitely.

What do you find most irritating in other people?

Racism, conspiracy theorists, anti-vaccinators, anyone who still likes Trump. And those people who have amazing, glowing skin no matter what — they are really irritating.

If your 20-year-old self could see you now, what would she think?

“Wow, who’d have thought that you’d still get employed and you haven’t been chucked by your boyfriend.”

Which object that you’ve lost do you wish you still had?

For my 21st birthday, my youngest brother Edward gave me a beautiful Aboriginal painting. I thought I had put it in storage — it was never seen again.

What is the greatest challenge of our time?

How to welcome immigration. How we help people to empathise and understand, and welcome refugees. And how to prevent internet propaganda that fuels hatred.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Ask me that in 60 years.

If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?

I have to say 10. I’m so grateful and feel so lucky and blessed.

‘Marge and the Secret Tunnel’ by Isla Fisher is published by Piccadilly Press, £5.99