Isla Fisher and Jillian Bell dish on their new Disney film, Godmothered!
The hilarious stars tell WHO about why they’re giving the ‘happily ever after’ ending a shake-up.
While most women wouldn’t say no to a fancy new dress, a night off from cooking and cleaning, or a kiss from a handsome prince, your typical fairytale ending has certainly been in need of a shake-up.
Enter Disney Plus’ Godmothered, starring the hilarious comedy queens, Isla Fisher, 44, and Jillian Bell, 36.
In the film, Bell plays a young fairy godmother-in-training named Eleanor who discovers her profession is in danger of ending.
Determined to show that fairy godmothers are still needed, Eleanor tries to help a young girl whose wish was ignored. But she soon discovers that Mackenzie (Fisher) is no longer a young girl but a single mum-of-two, who’s long been disillusioned with the idea of “happily ever after”.
Here, the actresses chat exclusively to WHO about female empowerment, fairytale endings and why everyone needs a magical godmother…
Jillian, what sold you when you first read the Godmothered script?
My manager sent it my way and she had said to me…I had kind of been working a lot, that sounds braggy [laughs]. But I had kind of wanted to take a break and my manager sent this to me and said, “You’re not going to be able to pass on this.” And I read the script and I just thought, “This is everything I’ve ever wanted to do.” I love any type of movie that has magic and spells. And when I read it, I was sort of like, “I will do whatever I can to be a part of this. Please let me audition.” I went and auditioned, I had meetings over Zoom with the director, Sharon Maguire, and I just said, “Please trust me with this, even though there’s no reason you should.”
It’s very different from any character you’ve played in the past. Were you able to put your own spin on Eleanor?
Yeah, I mean, first it kind of just came vocally…At the beginning we were in a hotel in West Hollywood and we were just running through some of the scenes and improvising. And this voice kind of came about for Eleanor that made my posture change and just the way I carried myself. And sometimes, for a character, it’s the smallest thing like that but it just clicks in, and for the rest of shooting I was sort of like, “I think I know who she is now.” She’s this determined, naïve, very positive but sometimes sarcastic to Isla’s character Mackenzie, and that’s kind of where it started.
Isla, you’re a bit more selective of your films now because of motherhood. What made this role stick out for you?
Well, I loved all the lady ingredients and having a female director. It was in a great window for me in terms of timing. So obviously, my husband [Sacha Baron Cohen] is in show business, so we can’t work at the same time … and that was a window where he could help. And also, I just like the idea … it really appealed to me to play someone who is not as ebullient as I usually play.
It’s just a different character than anyone I’ve inhabited. I love the fact she hadn’t properly grieved [the death of] her husband and that she was just trying to take care of her kids. She’s this sort of humble, down-to-earth woman but at the same time, she’s forgotten how to love life. It’s just not usually a role I’m considered for, so like all of us, I’m just trying to be inspired and challenged at work and it felt like a different type of person.
Does being a mother make these roles more thrilling as you’re able to share it with your children?
Yeah, definitely. I’m really excited for my family to see this movie and also to give young girls a message that “happily ever after” doesn’t necessarily involve a dress, a prince and a castle. And it’s sort of sometimes right in front of us, the joys and the blessings that we’ve been given, but hard to see when you’re stuck in the grind of life.
It was refreshing to see how you made “happily ever after” work without that love story ending. Was it nice to shake-up the standard Disney fairytale?
BELL: I think that’s the thing I loved about it the most. You hear it’s a project at Disney and you sort of have very high expectations for it all round, which it surpassed. But it also makes you think of the castle and the gown and the prince. And I think this was a modern twist on a classic fairytale and something that I had never really seen before. And I thought it was super-progressive and gave not only adults but young little ones a great message.
You both have a knack for comedy and improvising. What was it like working with each other on set?
BELL: It was dreadful. Next question! [Laughs.]
FISHER: I was playing someone who was miserable, so I could only do a little bit. I had to remember the story kind of was depended on Jillian teaching me to find the joy in life. We were allowed one take where we could improvise every scene, it was not the most improvisational movie. Sharon liked us to stick to the script, wouldn’t you say?
BELL: Yeah, there was one scene I remember that you let loose a little bit with your character with the improvising about your hair. Remember?
FISHER: Oh yeah!
BELL: I mean, you’re just getting to see what Isla has naturally in her, it’s everything you expect from seeing all of her comedies. Her brain just works so fast, it like reminds you, “Keep up your game, Bell! Fisher’s got this one.”
FISHER: No, you were so funny! My favourite was your line about sharks. I don’t know if this is sort of spoiler but, [I say], “Who eats that much seafood?” and Jillian improvised that line, “Sharks!” It was so funny! Jillian made everything funny, even my stuff that was sort of supposed to be touching – it was emotional but equally hilarious. I mean, we’re so lucky to have her in this movie.
BELL: Oh my God, Fisher, you’re going to make me cry over here.
Do either of you have a “fairy godmother” figure in your life? A woman you look towards in times of need …
BELL: Mine’s my sister. We’re best friends, we’re producing partners together, we own a T-shirt line together and we live together. So we’re a little in each other’s face. But I can’t say enough about her. I say to people she’s like my soulmate. Whoever I get to meet and marry someday, hopefully, will be welcomed. But she’s truly my soulmate. That’s the person who at the beginning and end of the day, I ask her advice, or her blessings, for things. We just really lean on each other and she’s been my fairy godmother throughout my whole life.
FISHER: And my fairy godmother is also Jillian’s sister. She’s my soulmate and she likes me a little bit more [laughs].
Godmothered premieres on Disney+ on Friday, December 4.