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August 2007
HOT ROD: An Interview with Isla Fischer

HOT ROD: An Interview with Isla Fischer

August 3, 2007

Isla Fischer, the scene-stealing breakout star from 2005’s “Wedding Crashers,” is back on the big screen where we all want her - in a comedy. However, in this week’s new film “Hot Rod,” she plays Denise, the straight girl/love interest to Andy Samberg’s delusional, emotionally-stunted, wannabe stuntman Rod. We spoke with the petite and very pregnant Fischer recently and she told us all about being the only girl on set, the difficulties of playing the straight girl and that the next time we see her on-screen, it will likely be in a project she’s created herself. We also have to mention that upon our exit from the interview at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills, we walked out with Fischer who, after politely bidding us adieu, got into her own little car and drove herself home.

What was it like on the set of this crazy movie?

Isla Fischer: It was a lot of fun. It was a boys club in a way, but these guys are so friendly and ingratiating that I felt instantly welcomed.

You didn’t feel excluded?

Fischer: I feel as though a few of those men have vaginas, and that made me feel at ease.

Can we tell them that?

Fischer: Absolutely.

You mentioned that originally you were set to play a character that was wilder and funnier, can you talk about that?

Fischer; Well we went between various characters, but essentially we wanted a funny counterpart for Andy in a way of explaining to the audience why someone like Rod, who’s sort of emotionally stunted with slightly special needs, is able to get someone like Denise. In the end they wanted the film for the audience to relate to, so Denise is the straight girl. I think it works really well, it’s sort of charming, their relationship.

It’s interesting that there were discussions about character relationships and stuff like that, because the movie’s pretty silly.

Fischer: Oh yeah, we take it all very seriously.

Does that mean you had a whole back story as to why she had the bad boyfriend?

Fischer: No, no. That would be absurd. We weren’t doing Shakespeare, but you do want the story to work in whatever genre it is. With a movie like this, you really want it to work to a degree. You don’t want to look too closely at it, cause it will probably dissolve.

Did you know Andy’s work on SNL prior to signing on?

Fischer: I did. I’m a huge fan of Amy Poehler and SNL and so I’d seen I think “Laser Cats” [a mention which received an approving round of laughs from the journalists in the room] and a couple others. I’m glad you guys laughed at that, I really liked “Laser Cats.” Some people don’t get it and I think it’s one of the funniest… anyway, so that whole Lonely Island crew, they had a really original voice and I don’t think it’s like any other kind of comedy that you see at the moment so I felt excited. It’s like discovering a new alternative band, I really wanted to work with them.

What’s the dynamic between the three of them, since they’ve known each other since junior high?

Fischer: Interestingly during the junket, I’ve heard that apparently they were at each other’s throats during the filming, that’s the line. They seem very close, there was a lot of snuggling for three straight men and they lived in a house together and made every creative decision together and they have a very interesting dynamic. We never really got to the bottom of it but I think what’s great about them is that they work together and are really sensitive to each other’s comic sensibility and all of them bring something to the party. Jorma tends to be more of an assertive sense of humor, Andy is really quick and Akiva kind of intellectualizes everything, approaches and really thinks about different styles of comedy. They come together and they work very well as a unit.

We keep seeing you as the all American girl, is it ever difficult to get that angst and do you ever feel uncomfortable with it?

Fischer: Not really, actually. I think for Australians, we just have so much, so many American shows played growing up and we’re all kind of fans of them and I think it’s easy for us to do the accent. Definitely if I take a trip home to Oz or I go to London to visit and then start working again, I’m always a bit rusty. I always sound a little South African or something. That’s not right, but it’s the first thing that came to mind. They sound a little Australian but they’ve got a curlier accent.

You’re talking about growing up with American shows, was there anything that surprised you when you started to work in American films?

Fischer: I was surprised at how many great opportunities there are as an actor in Hollywood. Coming from a sort of small industry, if you will, there are more opportunities, that was my main surprise. I kind of figured from the outside that it was a situation where you cast the same people in the same roles and there’s a sort of formula but I find in coming here that they’ve been open to someone like me playing a typical girl next door, when I’m obviously the opposite of that, it’s great.

Were you surprised by the welcome you received after Wedding Crashes, how you were kind of singled out?

Fischer: I was because you never know if a movie is going to work or not so it was just amazing. We got so lucky that the movie really worked and people embraced it and I was lucky enough to get in a room and meet more people and audition for more jobs.

Are you being offered mostly comedy scripts?

Fischer: Yes. I did a movie called “The Lookout” actually, post-Wedding Crashers and that was such a departure, obviously it’s a very dark film, and I was given that opportunity and now I’m tying to mix it up, I don’t really have a strategy.

The Lookout was completely different…

Fisher: Completely different.

It was strange that you were in it, but I guess it’s good for you to break out of that. Did you do that intentionally?

Fischer: No, not to change the perception of myself, more just to work with Scott Frank, but obviously I was very happy it did sort of break me out of that mold. And it was good too, to come and do Hot Rod, even though I had signed up to do the movie in order to get to be funny, even though I ended up playing the straight girl. It was still great for me to go and play the straight girl in a comedy because again, it’s a different experience and difficult, in its own way to keep a straight face. And you have to stop mucking around, something that I really struggle with.

You’ve been so busy in the last year or two, are you planning on taking some time off?

Fischer: Yeah, well now that I have another special project [nods to her pregnant belly]

When does that start, the taking time off?

Fischer: That’s been starting, for quite some time. I’ve been taking time off for all of this year, actually. I’ve been a bit of sort of setting up… it’s really hard being a woman in comedy, there’s no strong female leads. So I’ve been sort of finding my own material, creating my own material and pitching it to studios, so I’ve been sort of producing, I guess you would use that word. Otherwise, I’ve been taking it easy. This junket is about as much work as I’ve done.

Where are you living?

Fischer: I’m still living between London and Los Angeles

Now Sascha [Baron Cohen, Fischer’s significant other] is known for putting a lot of his personal life into his work. Have you set any ground rules? No cameras around the baby, for instance?

Fischer: [Laughs nervously] I don’t know how to answer that


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