Isla Fisher

Women’s Health, Nov 2012

No one cracks a joke, rocks red hair or expresses themselves quite like the sexy Aussie.

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“You know, when I think of it, I played a bipolar nymphomaniac in Wedding Crashers and now I’m playing a coke whore!” Isla Fisher breaks up laughing and slaps the table, rattling the cutlery. “I’m definitely making my dad proud!”

We’re having lunch in the Terrace Restaurant of the Sunset Tower Hotel, and Fisher’s in high spirits. While she’s mostly had her hands full lately raising two young girls, Olive, and Elula, ages 5 and 2 – “my main job is as a mum,” she says – Mrs Sacha Baron Cohen has also been making some of the most entertaining films of her career. We know her for Wedding Crashers, way back in 2005, but she’s due to star next year in Gatsby, alongside Leonardo DiCaprio, and then Now You See Me, about a group of magicians/bank robbers, which stars Mark Ruffalo and Michael Caine.

But before all that, there’s the bawdy comedy – her coke whore debut – The Bachelorette, starring Kirsten Dunst and Lizzy Caplan. “It’s like Bridesmaids, but if the girls didn’t have any heart at all,” she says. “They’re just really immature, self-entitled, middle class, white girls who think that the world owes them something. Really horrible people.

She says this with a look of pure delight on her face. For Fisher, being horrible is a new adventure. She clearly doesn’t have an ounce of horrible in her. She’s friendly and chatty, with a charming Aussie lilt, and always alert to a possible laugh. She’s also disarmingly pretty, in an understated way, what with her cute denim jacket, flame red hair and bright red fingernails with spangly stars pasted onto each one.

“Oh those,” she says, examining her fingers. “That’s what happens when your husband goes out of town and you’re sitting in bed alone, with nothing else to do. I’m not actually very good at the maintenance thing. I don’t buff, exfoliate, pluck, rinse, moisturize, suck, bleach… Whatever all these women do. I don’t have vajacials. Have you heard of those? It’s like a spa for your vagina!”

She’s only in LA temporarily. They live in north London for the most part, but visit every now and then for work, renting a house each time. But she knows the city well by now.

“I’ve been here for ten years basically, on and off,” she says. “The first time was in 2002 for the premiere of Scooby Doo. I was living in London and I’d just met Sacha.”

Did you meet on some red carpet somewhere?

“It is a fabulous story – we met in Australia actually – but I never tell it because I don’t talk about my personal life. I know, it doesn’t make any sense. Why would I have any respect for myself, when I could just whore myself out completely? In fact, I should do full nudity in every movie and tell everything about myself all the time!”

She pauses and looks at the recorder on the table. “Oh no. You can’t tell it’s sarcasm in print can you?” She leans in to the recorder. “That thing about nudity? That was a joke. Repeat: joke.”

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WH: So for The Bachelorette did you draw upon your years as an actual cokehead?

Isla: Haha! What’s hilarious is I’ve never done coke. I had to ask my friends: “what’s cocaine like?” And they all thought I was on it already because I talk so much and I’m so hyperactive!

WH: I thought all Australian girls were up for the party.

Isla: Well, I’ll have a glass of wine, but I’ve never really been that type. I’ve gone out and enjoyed myself in my early 20s, when I was in clown school in Paris for example. I had my hen party in Paris too.

WH: Was that like The Bachelorette? Strippers and all that?

Isla: No, I was four months pregnant. I just had a little bit of cake, and a decaffeinated tea and I called it a night. Sorry! That’s why I can’t wait for my family to see the film, because it’s so different from my life. I’m normally in Gymboree class, you know, and here I am as this wild, slutty party girl.

WH: You also converted to Judaism. That sounds like a big step.

Isla: It is. It takes a couple of years of studying. I’ve always been really into family and food, so culturally it was the right fit for me.

WH: Is it all jokes at home, then? Two comic actors, cracking each other up?

Isla: Yeah, we walk around the house with like clown noses and neck braces and juggling and doing stand-up bits. Day in, day out.

WH: Good to know.

Isla: Right, that’s it no jokes from here on! I’m serious. Just the facts.

WH: Who’s the funniest woman you know?

Isla: That’s a hard one. I think socially maybe Chelsea Handler. She’s self depreciating, edgy and has the quickest wit.

WH: There’s definitely some sort of Aussie mafia in Hollywood. How come you all do so well here?

Isla: Well, I think we can all do the accent really easily. And we all look great in a bikini. Including Russell Crowe – no one pulls off a bikini like Russell.

WH: Are you all mates?

Isla: I am sort of friends with them all, yeah. It’s just great to see other Australians. I just did a movie with Hugh Jackman [Rise of the Guardians], and I catch up with Naomi [Watts] whenever I’m in New York. I just love all those girls you see at Naomi’s house if she’s having a barbecue or a baby shower or whatever.

WH: Who do you turn to for advice about what role to accept or whatever?

Isla: Um, usually a combination of my agent, my manager and my mom. But if I get in a taxi, I’ll probably ask the driver too. I tend to ask people who are not really experts, and I always hold their advice in equal esteem as someone who’s been in the business for 50 years. It’s not a great character trait, but I have it.

WH: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Isla: – Scott Frank who directed me in The Lookout said that you can’t have it all and you shouldn’t want to. That was good. But the best piece of career advice came from Naomi Watts and she said “it’s better to have a small part in something good and work with good people then have a splashy ‘great’ role in a bad movie”.

WH: A lot of people know you for Wedding Crashers. Did that kick your career into warp speed?

Isla: Actually no. In between getting that and my next job, I think I had 12 months, where I was auditioning three times a day and I didn’t get a single job. That was actually a real low point for me. But with the benefit of hindsight, those movies that came out turned out to be awful, so I’d dodged a bullet. If I’d got any one of those gigs, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

WH: Most actors go through that the first time they come out here.

Isla: Yeah, I was lucky. When I first came to LA it was for the premiere of Scooby Doo. But I never really had the chutzpah to just come to LA and make it. I didn’t have that kind of confidence. Put it this way – I’m always completely surprised when I get a job. I never saw this in my horizon.

WH: I hear you’ve been writing.

Isla: I have. It’s hard as a female in Hollywood to find comedic roles. It’s getting better since Bridesmaids, but still. It’s always good to be more proactive. So I wrote movie called Groupies with Amy Poehler a few years back. I don’t think we’ll get around to making it though because of our schedules.

WH: And if you’re not writing, or being mum, or making huge movies, what are you doing?

Isla: I’m in the garden. Seriously! We grow tomatoes and stuff. We keep chickens. No, it’s not for the apocalypse, but I am quite convinced that the end is nigh. In a colorful, amusing way.

WH: Ah vegetables. That must be how you’ve stayed so skinny after having two kids.

Isla: Well I do watch my food anyway. But I’ve been blessed in that I never had any body issues during pregnancy. I loved basically gaining weight and being able to eat whatever I wanted, and the whole experience of giving life… And then I never worried about losing the weight afterwards, because you know breastfeeding burns all the calories up in such a little amount of time.

WH: Breastfeeding burns calories?

Isla: Yeah, that’s my big slimming secret! That and SPANX. I’m not kidding. Anytime anyone compliments me on my figure its because I am wearing SPANX!