The Herald Sun (Aus) – September 3rd 2007

Isla Fisher’s pregnant pause

ISLA Fisher is delirious with happiness – quite literally.

The heavily pregnant actor, whose burgeoning belly is evident in her tight-fitting violet top and fitted jeans, happily volunteers that the latter stage of impending motherhood has left her quite forgetful.

“I can’t even remember my own name,” she says.

The reference to her pregnancy is a curious interview-opening admission from the notoriously private Australian actor — particularly considering that the committee of Hollywood publicists who orchestrated this meeting in Los Angeles have repeatedly warned for weeks that Fisher will be pulled from the room if any personal questions are broached.

Until this interview (in late July) Fisher and her high-profile fiance Sacha Baron Cohen had refused to confirm her pregnancy, which had become Hollywood’s worst-kept secret as the star’s petite frame has grown over the last few months.

Fisher, who grew up in Perth, says during her rare public appearances she has side-stepped questions seeking her to confirm her new status as a mother-to-be.

On the day of this interview — to promote her latest film, bank heist drama The Lookout — she appears to have had a change of heart.

While reluctant to reveal her due date or any details about the couple’s wedding plans, Fisher is unusually frank about life with the Borat funnyman and excitement about becoming a first-time mother.

“I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life,” she says, beaming and rubbing her tiny hands on her big belly.

Apart from her protruding stomach and her slightly rounded face, the 1.6m-tall actor — who is due to give birth later this year — looks remarkably slight.

When told she still looks tiny in her jeans, Fisher guffaws loudly.

“Oh honey, let me show you this,” she says, pulling up her top and pointing to a wide stretchy band of knitted fabric around the waist of her jeans and clinging to her big basketball-sized belly.

“I am not wearing jeans — I’m wearing elastic jeans.”

Fisher — who has worked steadily in Hollywood since her breakthrough, scene-stealing role as a nymphomaniac in 2005’s Wedding Crashers — says her pregnancy has seen her slow down and put movie scripts aside to enjoy domesticity with her long-time beau.

“I haven’t worked at all really during my pregnancy except today,” she says.

“I’m just concentrating on finding a rug for the living room — if I do that, I’ll be very happy with myself.”

While many Hollywood actors undergo gruelling post-pregnancy training regimens to regain their pre-baby shape and make a quick return to the big screen, the 31-year-old says she has no plans to get back to work.

“I don’t want to put the pressure on myself to have to race back to something,” Fisher says.

“So I’m just taking it easy and seeing how I feel.”

Fisher has spent at least three years studying Judaism to convert to her fiance’s faith and says she is passionate about her new religion.

“It’s Shabbat (Hebrew for the Sabbath) tonight — don’t think I’m not going to get Hallah (a special loaf of braided bread, traditionally eaten by Jews on the Sabbath) right now when I’m done here.
“I am still learning about Judaism and I love it.”

Asked if the couple plan to wed in a traditional Orthodox ceremony, Fisher becomes coy.

“God, you’re terrible — you’re terrible, Muriel,” she says theatrically in an ocker Australian accent, echoing the scene in Muriel’s Wedding, before pointedly turning the talk back to the promotional matter at hand — publicising her latest film effort.

In The Lookout, Fisher plays the amusingly named Luvlee Lemons — a small-town ex-stripper, who seduces a brain-damaged man, played by Third Rock From The Sun’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as part of a plot to rob the local bank.

Fisher says she agreed to be the dark crime caper’s leading lady on the stipulation that the character was a naive, child-like innocent, rather than in-your-face, sexual, scheming femme fatale as the script initially called for.

Fisher says she has struggled to have film-makers consider her for dramatic roles.

She says she owes the film’s first-time director Scott Frank, the acclaimed screenwriter whose successful scripts include Out of Sight and Get Shorty, for the opportunity to be a part of the serious drama.

“I got lucky — I wasn’t everyone’s first choice, at least on paper,” she says.

“I had a director who had the vision to imagine me playing someone other than a bipolar nymphomaniac.”

Fisher also plays it straight in the comedy Hot Rod, which also stars Saturday Night Live regular Andy Samberg and screen veterans Sissy Spacek and Ian McShane.

Samberg plays dim-witted Rod Kimble, whose goal in life is to be a professional stuntman. He rides around his small US town on a bicycle while wearing a caped, blue stuntman’s outfit.

Kimble, hoping to raise money for his abusive stepfather Frank’s life-saving heart operation, plans to jump 15 buses in an Evel Knievel-style stunt.

Fisher plays Kimble’s neighbour and love interest, Denise.

“This was an exciting project for me originally, because I was going to come in and be responsible for creating Denise and we were going to make her a funny character, but we ran out of time,” Fisher says.

“Then we realised just before we started shooting that you needed someone to represent the audience — the straight person. It ended up being Denise, which was a challenge for me because I wanted to play funny and I didn’t want to be `The Girl’ in the movie.”

Since hitting it big in Hollywood, the flame-haired beauty has spent much of the last few years on the road making her own films and also accompanying her famous fiance.

She begins talking about travelling around the US — between the lights of the big city and the classic Americana kitsch of small towns — during the controversial filming of Borat, where Cohen created havoc wherever he went.

“Instead of, `Hey, Honey, did you pick up the dry cleaning?’, it was, `Did you get beaten up? Are you getting sued? Is there a warrant out for your arrest?’,” she says laughing, before catching herself.

She places her small hands flat on the blue tabletop and leans forward.

“I know I brought it up,” she almost whispers.

“But I don’t want to talk about my relationship.”

The Lookout is out now. Hot Rod opens on October 11.

Instant expert
Born: Isla Lang Fisher on February 3, 1976, in Muscat, Oman.
Spouse: Was once engaged to UK actor/singer Darren Day. Now engaged to actor Sacha Baron Cohen
Born to a Scottish father who worked for the United Nations and a romance novelist mother.
Began acting in TV commercials aged 9 and moved on to soaps including Bay City, Paradise Beach and Home and Away.
Wrote two teen novels with her mother, Bewitched and Seduced By Fame.