Isla Fisher: How the hot Bod is keeping mum

The comedy actress, novelist and partner of Sacha Baron Cohen speaks to gill pringle about motherhood and movies
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The Independent Online

As Hollywood outsiders, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen and his Australian soap-star fiancée Isla Fisher delighted in poking fun at the ridiculousness of their adopted home town, a celebrity-obsessed city where the locals care far more about Lindsay, Britney and Paris than they do about presidential candidates.

But, in an ironic twist, the couple have today joined the elite ranks of Los Angeles's monikered power couples, "Isla and Sacha" rolling from the tongues of star-struck fans in the same breath as Brad and Angelina, Posh and Becks, and Tom and Katie.

If any couple was ever better equipped to deal with the absurdity of fame, then all bets would surely be on Fisher and Cohen. Put together a self-deprecating three-time Aussie soap survivor with the comic genius behind the Borat mockumentary, and it adds up to one easy tap-dance through Hollywood.

And yet the couple appear to have abandoned their trademark humour in anticipation of their first baby, due in October. While Cohen has long protected his privacy by conducting interviews in the personas of his comic creations Borat and Ali G, the usually irrepressible Fisher is today under pressure to do likewise, albeit with considerably less success.

After years of delivering ludicrous lines and enduring daft plot twists in Bay Cove, Paradise Beach and Home and Away, she finds it difficult to keep a straight face amid the deluge of curiosity surrounding her pregnancy.

Despite the fact the couple shared their baby news with friendsback in March, as recently as two months ago, their publicist is still sternly denying the fact with all the zeal of a government official guarding an official secret, issuing a terse statement: "If or when Isla becomes pregnant, she and her fiancé will decide if an announcement is necessary."

So why all the secrecy? After all, it's impossible for the 31-year-old actress to hide the fact she will deliver the "Borat baby" any day now – which, according to insiders, is a girl.

"In the beginning, I dodged the rumours. I was trying not to be rude, but there's a time before you're sure everything is all right with no complications that you just don't want to discuss it," offers Fisher.

In an effort to avert further inquiry, she jokes about how she has yet to learn the identity of her baby's father: "I'm doing DNA tests with the casts of Hot Rod and also Wedding Crashers, so hopefully I'll find out for sure," she grins.

Blockbuster comedy Wedding Crashers sealed Fisher's arrival in Hollywood; her role as obsessive nymphomaniac bridesmaid to Vince Vaughn's shocked wedding crasher upping her asking price to $1m after the film become one of 2005's biggest grossing movies, raking in more than $300m.

However, her latest film, Hot Rod, is no Wedding Crashers, despite a cast that boasts Ian McShane, Sissy Spacek and Saturday Night Live TV favourite Andy Samberg. It's about a wannabe Evel Knievel who sets out to motorcycle over 15 buses to raise money for his verbally abusive stepfather's (McShane) heart surgery.

If Fisher is aware of Hot Rod's shortcomings, she gamely plugs the film anyway, pouting as she tells how she was banned from performing any of her own stunts in a movie which is, after all, about a luckless stuntman.

"They wouldn't even let me do that one scene where you see me standing on the moped. They only let me do the drive up and the turn, and then the stuntwoman took over. At least I hope it was a woman in a red wig but it may have been a man," says Fisher, dubbed "Hot Bod" following her sexy red-carpet appearance at the film's July US premiere.

Discussing Samberg, her Hot Rod love interest, she describes their screen kiss: "It was funny, because Andy had a fake handlebar moustache, and I've had some experience wrangling the real thing with Sacha. But Andy's was supposed to come off in my mouth, so I really had to struggle to get my mouth around everything.

"Probably the biggest challenge of Hot Rod was playing the straight girl and having to act serious. Part of me is a big show-off and I wasn't allowed to act out in this film.

"Comedy is more difficult than drama. It's much harder to make somebody laugh than to play something realistically."

Having authored two best-selling romance paperbacks, Bewitched and Seduced By Fame, Fisher herself has thus far failed to make it up the aisle despite the fact that her fiancé is a devout Jew. Not that she's wasting any time lingering over lost loves, now happily expecting the baby of one of Hollywood's richest men.

If Brad and Angelina's daughter Shiloh will have to live up to her unofficial title as Hollywood's most beautiful baby, then the Borat baby might likewise be expected to come out cracking jokes.

But that's OK with Fisher, who reckons she holds her own in her relationship with one of the funniest men in the world: "My fiancé tells me I'm funny and he's funny. Although he is slightly biased, let's be honest. But I just have to believe that and give it my best shot.

By her own admission, she wasn't always funny. A former child actress, her first big break came at 18 years old, playing Shannon Reed on Home and Away for three years. It was only after arriving in Hollywood five years ago that she discovered her funny bone, going on to star in I Heart Huckabees, Scooby-Doo and Wedding Daze.

"I've never minded making a fool out of myself. When I was a kid, we travelled a lot with my dad so I'm sure I developed those skills in order to fit in and make friends. And, also, being kind of little and having red hair, you get teased a lot, and making jokes is a way to turn it around," says the actress.

If the petite 5ft 2in Aussie and her 6ft 3in British beau seem like an odd couple, then she insists she's always been the eccentric, quirky odd-girl-out type with the worst taste in men. "I definitely dated a few schmucks during my teens. But I've always maintained good relationships... It's very common for women to be attracted to bad boys. I don't know why that is? Maybe it's an age thing?"

Following a few months of bonding with baby Borat, Fisher will report for duty in January, having recently been cast in the title role of Rebecca Bloomwood in Confessions of a Shopaholic, based on the novel by Sophie Kinsella.

"I want to continue doing comedy. I like playing the funny one, and using physical comedy instead of just being the pretty girl. Ooouch! Not that I'm saying I'm pretty," she says, cringing in embarrassment.

"I'd like to write another book, but right now I'm developing film material because there's not that many great roles out there for female comedians. It's usually the male protagonist and the girl, so I've been creating my own material to try to change that," says Fisher, who plans to produce and star in The Cookie Queen, a comedy about a thirtysomething girl scout who's held the record for girl scout cookie sales for 20 years.

"I've also written a script with Amy Poehler, Groupies, about these two over-confident girls who believe the band are interested in them when they're not. They're essentially stalkers. So it's two hours of stalking and its hilarious.

"That's what I aim to do because I think there's so many great female comedians who aren't being seen. They say it's because it's the young male demographic who go to cinemas and they don't want to see girls making fools of themselves. But that's wrong. People would turn out to watch a female Will Ferrell or a female Clouseau."

Born in Oman to Scottish parents, Fisher moved to Australia as an infant, leading a carefree rural life with her two brothers and two stepbrothers. Did she ever imagine she'd make it all the way to Hollywood's A-List? "Oh yes, absolutely!" she grins. "I always thought I'd be living in Hollywood in, like, a seven-bedroom house and, like, a massive pool... and I'd be the maid!

"So, knock on wood, I'm lucky that I've got this far."

'Hot Rod' opens today