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Now we see a new Isla ; She might be remembered for her role in a certain Australian soap but Isla Fisher's gone global and, as SUSAN GRIFFIN...

July 6, 2013


Now we see a new Isla ; She might be remembered for her role in a certain Australian soap but Isla Fisher's gone global and, as SUSAN GRIFFIN discovers, she's got the jetlag to prove itCOVER STAR

ISLA Fisher's deeply apologetic. She's jetlagged to the point of sheer delirium.

I've got a little vertigo, a little anxiety, explains the Australian actress, who's jetted in from Los Angeles, where she lives with her husband Sacha Baron Cohen and their two daughters, five-year-old Olive and Elula, two.

On the third day of jetlag, everything usually makes me really sad and I want to cry all the time, explains the petite redhead, who's wearing a pretty designer dress and sitting barefoot and cross- legged on a sofa that dwarfs her doll-like proportions. She may be weary, but Fisher proves entertaining company, laughing at her own foibles and happy to talk about most subjects - bar her husband.

She'll go as far as acknowledging the Freddie Mercury biopic he's attached to. I know there's a new script in but I haven't read the draft, she says, but that's it.

As she explains in a friendly but firm manner: I don't really talk about my personal life.

Fisher, 37, has flown in (minus the family) to promote her new movie Now You See Me in which she stars alongside Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson and Dave Franco.

They play four magicians, billed as The Four Horsemen, brought together by a mysterious figure to pull off incredible heists and reward their audiences with millions of dollars.

I got offered the movie through Bobby Cohen, who's a producer I worked with on [the 2008 romcom] Definitely, Maybe, says Fisher.

Normally when I get offered things, they're not um, um... Challenging? Stimulating? Great, she says laughing. Urgh, that sounds so bad. But usually, all the jobs you really want, you have to fight for - and beg people to consider you.

It's why she decided to take matters into her own hands and write a screenplay with her Scottish-born mother, which they're currently tweaking.

I think it's so important to create stuff yourself so you don't have to wait for the phone to ring, says Fisher, who couldn't believe her luck when she read the script for Now You See Me.

This was one of the projects I would have fought for. It's such a quick, taut read and the action was so slick - it's a fun heist action thriller. In preparation to play Henley, an escape artist, Fisher studied the life and work of the illusionist Dorothy Dietrich.

There's something about magic that's beguiling and exciting. It taps into something child-like, she says.

You want to believe in a force greater than yourself, which could equalise, you know, things... She breaks down into a fit of giggles and claps her hands.

Am I jetlag speaking? Does any of this make sense? A child actor, Fisher appeared as troubled teen Shannon in the Australian soap Home And Away, before her breakout role in 2005's blockbuster comedy Wedding Crashers, opposite Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn.

She's since starred in projects such as Confessions Of A Shopaholic, the animation Rango with Johnny Depp and, most recently, Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of The Great Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio.

To outsiders, her illustrious co-stars would suggest she'd 'made it' but she shakes her head.

All that happens is that you go into a different category with better competition, she says.

In a way, the good thing about fighting for a role and auditioning is that you find out whether or not you can really, truly play a character.

I think there's something scary about being offered something. You think, 'What if I mess it up?' Now You See Me is Fisher's first action movie and she'd like to do more. Although I'm not sure I necessarily have the physical abilities to be an action heroine, grins the actress, who grew up with four brothers for company.

I am a bit of a tomboy but I injured myself twice on the movie, she reveals. There was a hysterical moment where I was running in heels and had to jump over this wall. I landed on my knee and ripped the skin off.

There was blood everywhere and suddenly I hear [the director] Louis's French accent, 'OK, bring in the double', she recalls in a dubious intonation.

Oh God, that wasn't even French. I'm really jetlagged when I can't do a French accent. Brong in de double. Breeng in ze double?' Anyway, she says, shaking her head and moving swiftly on. A girl comes in wearing identical clothes and my wig, I mean, not my wig, and then she does the stunt.

This was towards the end of filming and it suddenly dawned on the actress she could have asked for her double at any point.

The second I worked that out I was like, 'Damn!' says Fisher, who'd already suffered a near-death experience while filming one of Henley's stunts in a water tank.

Well, it wasn't that dramatic but I'm going with it because I'm promoting a movie, she laughs.

I couldn't breathe for a few minutes as my chain got caught. All I kept thinking was, 'I'm going to be on the autopsy table bloated in a sequined leotard. It's so unfair!' Although the role of Henley was originally written for a man, Fisher thinks the dynamic of having a woman in The Four Horsemen works brilliantly. Henley's so brave, fearless, almost patronising to the audience and a little bit dismissive, she says - and suddenly starts laughing.

I've just realised in the last interview I said she was 'submissive', and she promptly puts a cushion over her face. That's so embarrassing! Her character also enjoys sparring with her former boss Michael Atlas, played by Eisenberg. Before The Four Horsemen, she was his glamorous assistant who would get sawn in half.

I hadn't met Jesse before but I'd seen him in A Social Network and thought he put in a phenomenal performance, she says.

He's so smart, a wonderful playwright and has acerbic wit. He's very funny in an unusual and original way. So we definitely giggled a lot on set.

Reflecting on that last statement, she says: That quote's so naff. I'm so perplexed at how the thoughts starting in my brain are travelling down to my mouth and spewing forth like utter gibberish.

Like Eisenberg, Fisher's also applauded for her sharp wit, something she attributes to her nomadic youth.

Born in Oman, the family would up sticks on a regular basis to fit in with her father's role as a banker for the United Nations.

I had to go to a new school every year of my life through primary school, so I was always the new girl in class, she says.

By tapping into my inner idiot and making a fool of myself, everyone would laugh and I was able to break the ice.

Her childhood training's served her well and Fisher looks set to be a force to be reckoned with.

I never believed for a second I'd have the career I have today, she says and, unlike many of her Hollywood contemporaries, you actually believe her.

. ? Now You See Me is in cinemas now.

Movie magic ? Big hair's the order of the day in 2013's The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, starring Steve Carell and Steve Buscemi as warring magicians. ? Peep Show stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb attempt to put their rivalry aside following a guillotine mishap in 2007's Magicians. ? Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman join forces in a story of magicians attempting the ultimate illusion in 2006's The Prestige. ? Anthony Hopkins appears in 1978's psychological horror Magic about a ventriloquist at the mercy of his demonic dummy. ? Tony Curtis stars in the title role in 1963 movie Houdini about the doomed illusionist.

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