Fisher at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival
Isla Lang Fisher
3 February 1976
|Home town||Perth, Western Australia, Australia|
Sacha Baron Cohen (m. 2010)
Isla Lang Fisher (//; born 3 February 1976) is an Australian actress, voice actress, and author. Born to Scottish parents in Oman, she moved to Australia at age six. After appearing in television commercials at a young age, Fisher came to prominence for her portrayal of Shannon Reed on the soap opera Home and Away from 1994 to 1997, garnering two Logie Award nominations.
Fisher made a successful transition to Hollywood in the live-action film adaptation of Scooby-Doo (2002), and has since achieved fame for her roles in Wedding Crashers (2005), Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009), The Great Gatsby (2013), and Now You See Me (2013). Her other notable film credits include I Heart Huckabees (2004), The Lookout (2007), Definitely, Maybe (2008), Burke & Hare (2010), Bachelorette (2012), Visions (2015), Grimsby (2016); Keeping Up with the Joneses (2016), and Tag (2018). In addition, she has voiced characters in animated films such as Horton Hears a Who! (2008), Rango (2011), and Rise of the Guardians (2012). On television, she played a recurring role on the fourth and fifth seasons of Arrested Development (2013, 2018).
Fisher was born in Muscat, Oman, the daughter of Scottish parents Elspeth Reid and Brian Fisher. Her father worked as a banker in Oman for the United Nations at that time. When she was a child, Fisher and her family moved back to their hometown of Bathgate in Scotland, then to Perth, Western Australia, when she was 6 years old. She has four siblings and has said that she had a "great" upbringing in Perth with a "very outdoorsy life." Fisher has stated that her "sensibility is Australian," she has a "laid-back attitude to life," and she feels she is "very Australian." She considers herself to be a feminist. Her mother and siblings live in Athens, Greece, while her father divides his time between Frankfurt, Germany, and Nicaragua. Fisher attended Swanbourne Primary School and Methodist Ladies' College. She appeared in lead roles in school productions such as Little Shop of Horrors. At 21, she attended L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in Paris, where she studied clown, mime and commedia dell'arte.
Fisher made her first on-screen appearances in commercials on Australian television at the age of 9, and made her professional acting debut in 1993, with two guest-starring roles in children's television shows Bay City and Paradise Beach. At age 18, with the help of her mother, she published two teen novels, Bewitched and Seduced by Fame; in a 2005 interview with Sunday Mirror, Fisher admitted that had she not been successful as an actress she would probably have been a full-time writer.
Between 1994 and 1997, Fisher played the role of Shannon Reed, a bisexual unconfident young woman who develops anorexia, on the Australian soap opera Home and Away. In a 1996 interview with The Sun-Herald, Fisher spoke of her success and experiences on the show. "I would be stupid to let it go to my head because it could all end tomorrow and I would just fade back into obscurity." She added: "I like working on Home and Away but it's a heavy workload so I get stressed out a lot, We work about 15 hours a day, including the time it takes to learn lines. I know a lot of people work those sort of hours but I think we really feel it because most of us are young and fairly inexperienced [...] But I am very grateful because it is good experience. It's like an apprenticeship but we do it in front of 20 million people so all our mistakes are up for the world to see." For her performance in the series, Fisher received nominations for Most Popular New Talent at the 1995 Logie Awards, and for Most Popular Actress at the 1997 ceremony.
After leaving the soap, Fisher enrolled at L'École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, a theatre and arts training school in Paris, and went on to appear in pantomime in the United Kingdom. She also toured with Darren Day in the musical Summer Holiday and appeared in the London theatre production Così. Fisher played an ill-fated member in a group of international students from an elite Prague school in the German slasher film Swimming Pool (2001).
Fisher transitioned to Hollywood in 2002, with the part of the love interest of a cowardly slacker Shaggy Rogers in the live-action film Scooby-Doo. For the role, she wore a blonde wig because Daphne Blake (portrayed by Sarah Michelle Gellar) was supposed to be the only redhead in the film. Although Scooby-Doo received negative reviews, the film was a commercial success, grossing US$275.7 million worldwide. On that early stage in her career, Fisher remarked: "I only came out on the back of [the movie] — for the premiere of Scooby Doo. And then, I ended up getting representation and ended up getting a job, almost straight away. So, I was fortunate, in that I didn't have to come out to L.A. and join a queue of however many people, and try to get work. I came in on the back of what was deemed as a big studio movie that had had extraordinary success". She subsequently played supporting roles in the independent film Dallas 362 (2003) and the Australian comedy The Wannabes (also 2003). In his review for the latter, David Rooney of Variety felt that Fisher "adds easy charm and a thinly developed hint of romantic interest", in what he summed as an "uneven but endearing farce about breaking into showbiz". In the comedy I Heart Huckabees (2004), directed by David O. Russell, she played what was described as a "punchy little part", by newspaper The Age.
Fisher's breakthrough came with the comedy Wedding Crashers (2005), opposite Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, taking on the role of the seemingly sexually aggressive and precocious younger daughter of a politician falling in love with an irresponsible wedding crasher. On her part in the film, she remarked: "It was an interesting character to play, because she was so crazy and lacking in any kind of social etiquette. She doesn't care what anyone thinks." For one particular scene, involving sexual content, she used a body double. "I negotiated that from the beginning, trying to analyse why. I find pornographic violence, just gratuitous and unnecessary than nudity, because there's nothing more peaceful and beautiful". The film was favourably received by critics and made US$285.1 million worldwide. Empire magazine found Fisher to be an "unexpected, scene-stealing joy", and her performance earned her the Breakthrough Performance Award at the MTV Movie Awards and two Teen Choice Awards nominations.
Fisher appeared as a Manhattan party host in the independent drama London (2005), opposite Jessica Biel, Chris Evans and Jason Statham. She next starred in the romantic comedy Wedding Daze (2006), with Jason Biggs, playing a dissatisfied waitress who spontaneously gets engaged to a grieving young man. While Wedding Daze opened in second place on its UK opening weekend, the film received mediocre reviews from critics. Nevertheless, Reel Film Reviews found the film to be an "irreverent, sporadically hilarious romantic comedy that boasts fantastic performances from stars Jason Biggs and Isla Fisher". In the thriller The Lookout (2007), opposite Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Matthew Goode, Fisher played a woman used by a gang leader to seduce a man with lasting mental impairments. Describing on how she took her character, she said: "[I]t was one of those situations where I read the script and thought, 'This is the take. I don't want to play the cliché femme fatale. I don't want to come in and be the woman with the sexual appetite, who wants to take down this man. I want to come in and make her this big beating heart, and innocent —a woman who has no identity, who knows the man she's with, who doesn't have an agenda'. Because every character in the script has an agenda. I thought how interesting if [my character] doesn't have one if she's a victim of her own kindness. So, that was my starting point". While The Lookout received a limited release, the film was favourably received. The comedy Hot Rod (also 2007), with Andy Samberg, saw Fisher star as the college-graduate neighbour on whom an amateur stuntman has a crush.
Fisher played a copy girl who becomes romantically involved with a recently divorced political consultant in the romantic comedy Definitely, Maybe (2008), with Ryan Reynolds, Elizabeth Banks, Rachel Weisz and Abigail Breslin. Reviewers felt the film was a "refreshing entry into the romantic comedy genre", and The New Yorker wrote that the "interest lies" in the female characters, concluding: "Isla Fisher, short, with thick auburn hair, is a changeable free spirit who keeps [the male lead]—and maybe herself—off balance". Budgeted at US$7 million, Definitely, Maybe was a commercial success, grossing US$55.4 million worldwide. Fisher also voiced a professor in a city of microscopic creatures in the computer-animated comedy hit Horton Hears a Who! (2008), featuring Jim Carrey, Steve Carell, Will Arnett, among others.
Fisher obtained her first leading film role in the comedy Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009), where she played a college graduate who works as a financial journalist in New York City to support her shopping addiction. She felt "apprehensive" as she took on her first star vehicle, stating: "I was gobsmacked that anyone would give me my own movie. I am eternally bewildered. Every time I see [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer, I want to shake him and say: 'Are you mad? Why would you put me on a poster?'". Upon its release, the film received lukewarm reviews from critics; while Time Out described her as "silly and adorable", The Christian Science Monitor remarked: "Isla Fisher is such a bundle of comic energy that watching her spin her wheels in the aggressively unfunny Confessions of a Shopaholic counts as cruel and unusual punishment —for her as well as for us". Despite the critical response, the film was a commercial success; it opened with US$15 million on its North America opening weekend and went on to gross US$108.3 million worldwide. Fisher received her third Teen Choice Award nomination.
In the British black comedy Burke and Hare (2010), loosely based on the Burke and Hare murders, Fisher starred opposite Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis as a young former prostitute and the love interest of one of the titular characters. The film found a limited audience in theatres, and Variety wrote that "Pegg and Fisher, just about holding up their end of the bargain by delivering the film's portion of sweet romance, are hardly given anything funny to say", as part of an overall mixed reception. Fisher voiced a hot-tempered but good-hearted desert iguana befriending an eccentric chameleon in the 3D animated Western action comedy Rango (2011), featuring Johnny Depp, Abigail Breslin and Bill Nighy. The film received positive reviews and made US$245.7 million worldwide. For her role, Fisher won the Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award for Best Animated Female.
Fisher starred in the comedy Bachelorette (2012), opposite Kirsten Dunst, Lizzy Caplan and Rebel Wilson, portraying a ditzy party girl and one-third of a trio of troubled women who reunite for the wedding of a friend who was ridiculed in high school. In its review for the film, Daily Telegraph found Fisher to be "brilliantly slow as a hot mess whose main ambition is to get coked out of her skull". Budgeted at US$3 million, Bachelorette was a commercial success; it grossed US$11.9 million in theaters worldwide and more than US$8 million on VOD. In another voice-over role, Fisher voiced the Tooth Fairy in what she summed up as an "animated Avengers", the film Rise of the Guardians (also 2012), which earned her an Alliance of Women Film Journalists Award nomination for Best Animated Female.
Fisher found mainstream recognition in 2013, with roles in two highly successful films —The Great Gatsby and Now You See Me. The Great Gatsby, an adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's 1925 novel, directed by Baz Luhrmann and opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, saw her portray an ambitious social climber and the mistress of an Upper-class socialite. Fisher described as "surreal" the experience to work for Luhrmann. "He's my dream director. I've only ever had a short list of people I've wanted to work with, and he was at the top of it. I honestly couldn't stop smiling the whole time". While reviewers described her role as brief, the film made US$353.6 million worldwide. Fisher garnered nominations for the Best Supporting Actress award from the AACTA Awards, the Australian Film Critics Association and the Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards. In Now You See Me, Fisher took on a larger role as an escapist and stage magician in the heist thriller Now You See Me, with Jesse Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Mélanie Laurent and Morgan Freeman. The Hollywood Reporter felt that Fisher's portrayal was "loaded with chutzpah", and IndieWire remarked in its review for the film: "[W]hile Fisher and Laurent bring their charm, they still don't quite flesh out underwritten parts". Like The Great Gatsby, Now You See Me grossed more than US$350 million globally.
Also in 2013, Fisher obtained the nine-episode role of an actress in the fourth season of Arrested Development, which was released in Netflix, and appeared opposite Jennifer Aniston, Tim Robbins, and Will Forte in Life of Crime, a film adaptation of Elmore Leonard's 1978 novel The Switch, as the mistress of a wealthy man who refuses to pay the ransom for his kidnapped wife. The film received a limited theatrical release and favorable reviews from critics. Fisher, along with the cast of Arrested Development, received a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, and describing her work on the series as a career highlight, she said: "I've been really fortunate in my career to work with a lot of great people and get a lot of great gigs, but my favourite phone call ever was the Arrested Development one from my agent [...] It was very exciting".
In Visions (2015), an independent horror film, Fisher starred as a pregnant woman who begins to experience supernatural manifestations after moving to a vineyard with her husband. Distributed for a limited release in most international markets, Visions was released for VOD in North America, and in its review for the film, Spanish newspaper Reforma wrote: "Predictable and boring, even Isla Fisher, who is usually pretty good, delivers a very boring performance". 2016 saw Fisher star in two action comedy films —Grimsby and Keeping Up with the Joneses. She collaborated for the first time with husband Sacha Baron Cohen in the British film Grimsby, playing the handler of the best MI6 agent, and in Keeping Up with the Joneses, she starred as one half of a suburban couple who begin to suspect their new neighbors are secret agents. Both films were budgeted at over US$35 million, but only made less than US$30 million at the box office.
Based on Austin Wright's novel Tony and Susan, Tom Ford's neo-noir thriller Nocturnal Animals (2016) featured Fisher as the blighted wife of a motorist inside a violent novel written by a recently divorced man. The film was the winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the 73rd Venice International Film Festival and was an arthouse success. Her third book and first children's novel, Marge in Charge, revolving around a mischievous babysitter with rainbow hair who tends to bend the rules, was published in 2016. The book was met with a positive reception; Publishers Weekly noted that "spontaneity and mayhem" reign in the work, while The Daily Express found "the comic tale of [the] anarchic babysitter" to be "perfect for reading aloud". Fisher subsequently authored three follow-ups: Marge and the Pirate Baby, in 2017, Marge and the Great Train Rescue, also in 2017, and Marge in Charge and the Stolen Treasure, in 2018.
Fisher first met the British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen in 2002, at a party in Sydney, Australia. The two became engaged in 2004 and, in a Jewish ceremony in Paris, France, were married on 15 March 2010. The couple have three children. The family now reside in London and Los Angeles.
Before marrying, Fisher converted to Judaism, saying, "I will definitely have a Jewish wedding just to be with Sacha. I would do anything—move into any religion—to be united in marriage with him. We have a future together and religion comes second to love as far as we are concerned." She completed her conversion in early 2007, after three years of study. She took the Hebrew name Ayala (איילה), the Hebrew word for a doe, and has described herself as keeping the Jewish Sabbath.
In 2014 and 2015, Fisher donated her signed shoes for Small Steps Project Celebrity Shoe Auction. In December 2015, Fisher and her husband Baron Cohen donated £335,000 (US$500,000) to Save the Children as part of a program to vaccinate children in Northern Syria against measles, and the same amount to the International Rescue Committee also aimed at helping Syrian refugees.
|1997||Bum Magnet||Emma||Short film|
|2000||Out of Depth||Australian Girl #1|
|2004||I Heart Huckabees||Heather|
|2005||Wedding Crashers||Gloria Cleary|
|2008||Horton Hears a Who!||Dr. Mary Lou Larue||Voice|
|2009||Confessions of a Shopaholic||Rebecca Bloomwood|
|2010||Burke and Hare||Ginny Hawkins|
|2012||Rise of the Guardians||Tooth Fairy||Voice|
|2013||The Great Gatsby||Myrtle Wilson|
|2013||Now You See Me||Henley Reeves|
|2013||Life of Crime||Melanie Ralston|
|2016||Nocturnal Animals||Laura Hastings|
|2016||Keeping Up with the Joneses||Karen Gaffney|
|2019||The Beach Bum||Minnie||Post-production|
|1993||Bay Cove||Vanessa Walker||Series|
|1993||Paradise Beach||Robyn Devereaux Barsby||2 episodes|
|1994–1997||Home and Away||Shannon Reed||345 episodes|
|2000||Hearts and Bones||Australian Barmaid||1 episode|
|2002||BeastMaster||Demon Manaka||1 episode|
|2004||Pilot Season||Butterfly||1 episode|
|2010||Neighbors from Hell||Unnamed||3 episodes; voice|
|2011||Bored to Death||Rose||2 episodes|
|2013, 2018||Arrested Development||Rebel Alley||13 episodes (season 4–5)|
|2015||Sofia the First||Button||2 episodes; voice|
|2006||MTV Movie Awards||Best Breakthrough Performance||Wedding Crashers||Won|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Breakout (Female)||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Hissy Fit||Nominated|
|2008||Elle Women in Hollywood Awards||Icon Award||N/A||Won|||
|2009||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie Actress: Comedy||Confessions of a Shopaholic||Nominated|
|2012||Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Best Animated Female||Rango||Won|||
|2013||Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Best Animated Female||Rise of the Guardians||Nominated|
|2014||AACTA Awards||Best Supporting Actress||The Great Gatsby||Nominated|
|Australian Film Critics Association||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Jupiter Award||Best International Actress||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Awards||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Arrested Development||Nominated|||
|2016||AACTA Awards||Trailblazer Award||N/A||Won|||
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