THREE-MINUTE BIOGRAPHY: Isla Fisher, the hilarious actor who’s an Aussie to her core

Headshot of Malcolm Quekett
Malcolm Quekett
The Nightly
Perth-raised Isla Fisher, who has found herself back in the headlines, ascended to global fame in the US but never lost her love for Australia
Perth-raised Isla Fisher, who has found herself back in the headlines, ascended to global fame in the US but never lost her love for Australia Credit: The Nightly/The Nightly

There is an invisible thread that binds Aussies who venture into the world as they pursue their careers.

And perhaps this is especially so with Aussies in the entertainment world.

After all, what could be more comforting on winning a big new role than to hear that voice which reminds us of home.

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And so it seems to make sense that Isla Fisher and Rebel Wilson would have had plenty to chat about when they both appeared in the 2012 movie Bachelorette.

According to the Daily Mail, Wilson said that Fisher was one of the reasons she accepted a part in the film.

The pair also appeared in 2016’s The Brothers Grimsby — and Wilson now claims Fisher’s ex-husband Sacha Baron Cohen sexually harassed her during filming.

The claim is denied by Baron Cohen as “demonstrably false”.

But just after the row broke out, earlier this month Fisher and Baron Cohen announced they had divorced after more than 20 years together and 14 years of marriage.

The timing led some to suggest the Wilson accusation was “a catalyst” for Fisher to push to finally announce the split — which occurred in 2023 — to protect her own career and reputation.

Telethon 1996. Tempany Deckert, Belinda Emmett, Harry Cooper, Isla Fisher and David Christison.
Telethon 1996. Tempany Deckert, Belinda Emmett, Harry Cooper, Isla Fisher and David Christison. Credit: Supplied/Supplied

It was a sudden end to what had always been portrayed as a lasting love match, between Perth-raised Fisher and UK-raised Baron Cohen.

Fisher’s father, Brian, had worked for the United Nations and Save the Children, so there was much travel after Fisher was born in Muscat, Oman, before landing in Perth.

She went to Methodist Ladies College and pursued acting from a young age.

It was after settling in Perth that Fisher — tiny and with flaming red locks — says she learnt to embrace her uniqueness.

“It’s a great way to make friends quickly — tap into your inner idiot. I also had large ears and red hair and an English accent . . . so I think people were ready to have a laugh at me already,” she told Australian Women’s Weekly.

The West Australian reported in 1994 that she had an agent from the age of 11 and left school just months before sitting her final exams to take up the lead role in the children’s series Bay City.

A part in Paradise Beach followed, and then she landed a role as Shannon Reed in the long-running soap Home and Away — which has launched so many Aussies into the acting world — from 1994-1997.

Pippa (Debra Lawrence) and Shannon (Isla Fisher) in the TV program Home and Away.
Pippa (Debra Lawrence) and Shannon (Isla Fisher) in the TV program Home and Away. Credit: SUPPLIED/News Corp Australia

It was a time she also followed another passion — writing, with two novels about young women, Seduced By Fame and Bewitched. (She picked up the pen again years later, starting with kids’ book Marge in Charge in 2017).

But Europe called and the comedic chops were forming as she moved to Paris and studied clowning at a theatre school in 1998.

In 1999, she had a short-lived engagement to British actor Darren Day, which she called off. Fisher told Britain’s TV Times she loved Day but was too young to marry.

Fisher met Baron Cohen in 2001 at a party in Sydney, with the comedian saying they bonded over “taking the mick out of other people in the party”.

In 2002, Fisher spent six months in Queensland shooting Scooby-Doo alongside Hollywood stars Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jnr.

Fisher has told of fears that her American accent was not up to scratch, but the film’s editor introduced himself at the end of production and was surprised to discover she was Australian.

Fisher and Baron Cohen got engaged in 2004, with Fisher converting to Judaism, and were married six years later in a secret ceremony in Paris, attended by just six guests.

She later revealed that it was Baron Cohen who encouraged her to go for comedy roles.

Fisher told People: “I was going up for a lot of dramatic roles and getting rejected.

“He said, ‘You’re one of the funniest people I know. You should be doing comedy’.”

Fisher’s star soared with a series of hits, including Wedding Crashers, Wedding Daze, Definitely Maybe, Confessions of a Shopaholic and The Great Gatsby.

Isla Fisher with husband Sacha Baron Cohen.
Isla Fisher with husband Sacha Baron Cohen. Credit: supplied/supplied

She and Baron Cohen — whose career also rocketed as a comedy character Borat — have two daughters and a son; Olive, 17, Elula, 13 and Montgomery, 9.

In December 2020, the family moved to Australia from the US — spending time in Sydney and Perth.

Fisher told Marie Claire in 2021: “I feel like I can be myself in Australia.

“I miss it so much when I’m away and I have a very Australian sensibility. Whenever I meet another Aussie, I always think, ‘Oh my gosh, we’re twins!’.”

Sadly, it is said it may have been different views of where the family should stay — with Baron Cohen keen to live in Britain — that led to the split.

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