Isla Fisher: ‘Godmothered’ redefines ‘happily ever after’
Isla Fisher, star of the new Disney+ original movie, Godmothered, hopes her film changes some of the outdated traditions of fairy tales.
“A lot of the fairy tale stories are a little bit offensive,” Fisher said in a Zoom press conference.
As the mother of two daughters, 10-year-old Elula and 13-year-old Olive, Fisher objects to stories in which men rescue lonely women or women escape evil stepmothers. She also objects to descriptions of heroines that emphasize their beauty. Fisher said she changed adjectives like “beautiful” to “smart” when she read stories to her daughters.
In Godmothered, Fisher portrays Mackenzie, a single mother who meets her fairy godmother, Eleanor (Jillian Bell). Fisher said the comedy empowers real world women who don’t have magical assistance, nor do they need it.
“We’re just trying to subvert the stereotypes that are there, because they’re so old,” Fisher said.
Eleanor is a fairy godmother-in-training at a fairy godmother school that is about to shut because the world stopped believing in magic. So Eleanor finds a letter Mackenzie wrote when she was a child, asking her fairy godmother to make a boy in her class notice her. Eleanor sets out to grant Mackenzie’s wish, but finds she’s a tad late.
“Mackenzie doesn’t really believe that she needs a fairy godmother, but maybe she does,” Bell said.
Now that Mackenzie has grown up, she’s no longer worried about making boys notice her. She has two daughters, but her husband died in an automobile accident four years earlier.
Eleanor believes she can still help Mackenzie find a new true love, but the solution to Mackenzie’s problem isn’t quite as simple as finding a new love interest. Fisher said she appreciated how the film dispelled the notion that a woman needs to find a man to be happy.
“Happily ever after doesn’t necessarily include a castle, a prince, and a dress,” Fisher said. “It can be blessings you have in your life, with your family or work.”
By the time Eleanor meets Mackenzie, Mackenzie has been sacrificing her own needs to take care of her daughters. Fisher said it was important for Mackenzie to learn that it’s OK to take care of herself, too.
“I really loved playing this role and getting to experience my character fulfilling her inner need to find happiness,” Fisher said.
With Godmothered, Disney is turning the fairy godmother herself on her head, too. Since Eleanor still is a novice fairy godmother, her magic doesn’t always work as intended. Bell was excited to play a more bumbling fairy godmother.
“I’d always been looking for some kind of a magical being to play,” Bell said. “My goal in life was to play a witch and this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to it.”
Eleanor’s spells often make a mess, and attempts to turn animals into helpers creates chaos in Mackenzie’s home. The animals caused chaos on the set, as well.
“The pig loved to interrupt takes,” Bell said. “The pig also loved to leave takes when it was supposed to be there.”
Bell said Cinderella’s fairy godmother was her personal favorite fairy godmother. That character sang “Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo” and conjured a gown, carriage and glass slippers for the ball.
However, Bell wanted Eleanor to be a new fairy godmother. So, she avoided taking too much inspiration from Cinderella.
“I was definitely trying not to channel her too much,” Bell said. “I had to create something slightly different, but that’s the one to try to beat.”
Gomothered also allowed Fisher to play a sort of role she’s never played before.
In films like Wedding Crashers and Confessions of a Shopaholic, Fisher plays the outrageous comic character. In Godmothered, Fisher said she bore the responsibility of reacting to Bell’s comic shenanigans.
“I’m kind of the straight man in the story, which is something I haven’t really had the opportunity to get to play,” Fisher said.
Godmothered premieres Friday on Disney+.