The Evolution of Isla Fisher

Home and Away (1994-1997)

After starting out with a couple of bit parts, Isla Fisher launched her TV career in a big way by starring in Aussie soap Home and Away for several years. The adorably cute redhead set many a teenage heart a-flutter during her time at Summer Bay.

She played Shannon Reed, who was fostered by local do-gooders Pippa and Michael. As is the way with soaps, she was involved in numerous relationships, suffered a variety of crises and eventually absconded to Paris to become a writer (in real-life Fisher has written a couple of novels and a screenplay).

'Isl' buy that? Most definitely. Isla brought charm to the shallow but sunny soap.

Oliver Twist (1999)

Isla's first major work post Home and Away was in yet another adaptation of Charles Dickens' orphan story. This was the four-part ITV version, which starred Robert Lindsay as Fagin.

Fisher had a small role as Bet, a friend of Nancy (and a fellow lady of the night). The decent cast made this overlong adap worth another look: Andy Serkis made for a gripping Bill Sykes, and Keira Knightley does a good job in an early role.

'Isl' buy that? Decent performances make the unnecessary backstory more palatable.

Hearts and Bones (2000)

For some unknown reason, Isla Fisher's career failed to go stellar as quickly as one might have expected. After Oliver Twist , she nabbed a support role in Sunburn (the holiday rep drama populated by ex- Eastenders ) playing 'Australian Girl'.

Next she was slightly promoted to 'Australian Barmaid' in drama series Hearts and Bones , a fairly standard TV affair with a solid cast including Damian Lewis, Dervla Kirwen and a pre-fame Michael Fassbender.

'Isl' buy that? Not quite sold, but at least she was in good company.

Attila (2001)

Gerard Butler, the man who would be Leonidas, got in some practice for shouty warmongering when he donned the guyliner to play the legendary warrior in this American TV miniseries.

Isla was condemned to another blink-and-you'll-miss-it part in this one, which glorifies the leader of the Huns in a Braveheart -esque way (but the TV budget doesn't allow this to be anywhere near as rousingly epic as Mel Gibson's Scottish history revision).

'Isl' buy that? Nah, just watch Gladiator (or Braveheart ) again.

Swimming Pool - Der Tod feiert mit (2001)

Isla Fisher's movie debut was fairly standard teen stalk-and-slash pic. A bunch of students from an 'international' school in Prague, decide to celebrate their graduation after hours at an indoor swimming pool.

The usual mix of alcohol and gratuitous nudity attracts a masked killer, who hunts his way through the multicultural bunch of students. Continues Fisher's run of working with emerging talents in unworthy projects: James McAvoy co-stars here.

'Isl' buy that? Not likely. This arrived five years after Scream made exactly this kind of thing redundant.

BeastMaster (2002)

It must have seemed as if Isla Fisher's film career was never really going to take off when she was saddled with a role in an episode of seriously dodgy TV show BeastMaster . The weekly adventures saw Dar (Daniel Goddard), a sub-Kevin Sorbo figure, wander around ancient lands in search of his lost love, while chatting to animals in a kind of Krull meets Dr Dolittle format.

Isla only appears in one episode, as a similarly skilled animal whisperer.

'Isl' buy that? If anything could convince you to watch this, it's the promise of Isla in some Raquel Welch-style get-up.

Scooby-Doo (2002)

Fisher got her first decent-sized Hollywood role in the live-action adaptation of the Hanna-Barbera animated favourite. She donned a blonde wig to play Mary Jane, Shaggy's love interest.

The movie may not have been great (and has inspired a seemingly unstoppable flow of imitators since: Garfield , Marmaduke , Yogi Bear …) but it gave Fisher a chance to show off her comedy chops, and the ironic take on the source material made it a bit more bearable for adults than it could have been.

'Isl' buy that? Yeah, the presence of Isla Fisher swings it. She didn't return for the inferior sequel.

The Wannabes (2003)

Isla's next film effort didn't attract so much attention on the world stage: in fact, T he Wannabes barely got released outside of its home country of Australia.

Comedian Nick Giannopoulos was behind this poorly received comedy, which sees a gang of crooks go undercover as a group of children's entertainers, as a front for a big heist.

'Isl' buy that? Haven't even been given the opportunity on these shores.

Dallas 362 (2003)

Isla's next film role was in little-seen Dallas 362 , Scott Caan's debut feature as a director (he also wrote the script and starred). Caan and Shawn Hatosy play a couple of best buddies, who work as low-level enforcers for a local crime boss.

Isla was way down the cast list for this one, playing a girl who Caan picks up in a bar. She doesn't get a huge amount of screentime, but she still proves that her cuteness doesn't prohibit some serious attitude.

'Isl' buy that? Again, we didn't really have a choice as, despite solid reviews in the States, this never saw a wide release.

I Heart Huckabees (2004)

Isla continued her run of taking small roles in interesting flicks with David O. Russell's philosophical comedy. Albert (Jason Schwartzman) consults a pair of existential detectives after a series of run-in's with Brad Stand (Jude Law), an executive for Walmart-alike Huckabees.

Fisher is the young, nubile replacement for Naomi Watts' troubled store spokesperson/model who undergoes a crisis of confidence when forced to examine her superficial lifestyle.

'Isl' buy that? Certainly. Quality over quantity every time.

Matt Maytum
Editor, Total Film

I'm the Editor at Total Film magazine, overseeing the running of the mag, and generally obsessing over all things Nolan, Kubrick and Pixar. Over the past decade I've worked in various roles for TF online and in print, including at GamesRadar+, and you can often hear me nattering on the Inside Total Film podcast. Bucket-list-ticking career highlights have included reporting from the set of Tenet and Avengers: Infinity War, as well as covering Comic-Con, TIFF and the Sundance Film Festival.