‘Confessions' of an actress

‘Shopaholic' star Isla Fisher

by Rick Bentley

McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

12 February 2009


LOS ANGELES - Acting is like dancing. Some lead. Some follow.

Until now, Australian actress Isla Fisher has been following the lead of the likes of Vince Vaughn in “Wedding Crashers” and Ryan Reynolds in “Definitely, Maybe.” Her comedy and acting skills kept her in step.

Now, she has taken the lead.

Fisher stars in the film version of the popular “Confessions of a Shopaholic” series by Sophie Kinsella. The books offer a glimpse into the life of journalist and shopping addict Rebecca Bloomwood.

The character also is a slave to fashion. In keeping with that theme, Fisher shows up for an interview at the Four Seasons Hotel dressed in a dark royal blue dress designed by Zac Posen. The vibrant hue of the dress is a sharp contrast to her porcelain skin and red hair.

Fisher admits she is still a little surprised she was picked to star in the movie. Going from being a quirky supporting player to being at the heart of every scene kicked up the pressure.

“I definitely felt far more responsible for the tone of the movie as a lead than you do as a supporting cast member where you can just come in and muck about,” Fisher says. She’s no longer trying to hide the Australian accent as she has done in each of her American films.

“And on top of that, playing a beloved character from a book that is extraordinarily successful, and knowing that she is now going to be American, and wanting to just capture the essence of her properly added more pressure. Ultimately, when you have an incredible producer like Jerry Bruckheimer behind you, an amazing cast, it was just an amazing, rewarding, creative experience for me.”

The experience had Fisher playing a New York woman who dreams of landing a writing job at a hot fashion magazine. That dream gets sidetracked and she winds up writing a column for a business magazine. The comedy comes from her being a well-dressed fish out of water.

Additional laughs come from Bloomwood having never met a sale she didn’t like. Fisher’s quick to explain in that way she is nothing like the character. As the actress puts it, she shops rarely and poorly.

Fisher threw herself into the project. That meant long hours discussing exactly which fashions would be right for her character Fisher also met with members of Spender’s Anonymous groups. She was fascinated to discover there were so many types of shopping addictions: trophy shopping; image shopping; collecting.

The film’s theme of rabid economic consumption is timely, considering the state of the economy.

“The lessons that Rebecca Bloomwood learns in the movie, we have all been learning recently. So it feels really topical,” Fisher says.

Bruckheimer says Fisher was cast because she has both an ability to handle comedy and is a strong dramatic actress. He says the movie would not have worked if Fisher had not been able to show that the character has a serious side.

The executive producer applauds the drama. Fisher embraces the comedy. She has been training all her life, including attending mime school in France, to make people laugh.

“I love the freedom that comedy brings. But I’m open to work with all filmmakers. It is more about the story and character with me rather than the genre,” Fisher says.

“Confessions” gave Fisher a chance to live out one comedy dream. She has always wanted to be part of a scene where her character tries to use her dance moves to seduce a man.

She embarrassingly admits the odd gyrations that pass for a dance in the movie are all her own moves.

“I have been someone who has loves to tap into their inner idiot,” Fisher says. “I have always been the clown of my family. I have always enjoyed mucking about. I am just fortunate I get paid to do that.”

Fisher gets serious when asked questions about her personal life: her relationship with comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and becoming a mom in 2007. She politely explains those are subjects she doesn’t like to talk about in the press.

She puts no such limits on other topics.

Fisher says that unlike her character, there is really nothing material she just has to buy. That the 32-year-old has maintained her petite size over the years has meant she can keep going to her closet to find plenty to wear. If she does need something special for a red carpet event, there are designers willing to help.

She pauses and then confesses there is one item she can’t help buying.

“Underwear. Just out of necessity. Just in general. Underwear. Not such a good look, not having underwear,” Fisher says.

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