Her ground rules? A double

Special to The Times

It is a somewhat unenviable position to be appearing opposite not only two of the biggest comedy stars of the day -- Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn -- but also the hotly tipped, fast-rising starlet Rachel McAdams.

Add to this unlikely mix the godfather of odd, Christopher Walken, and actress Isla Fisher certainly had her work cut out for her in "Wedding Crashers," the new comedy about a pair of caddish lawyers who go uninvited to weddings for the purposes of picking up women. As the troubled, oversexed daughter of a D.C. power player -- Fisher calls her character "mental" -- she more than makes her mark.

Though Fisher, 29, lived throughout the Middle East and Asia as a child, following her father's job with the World Bank, she considers herself Australian, where her family eventually settled, by way of temperament, sensibility and accent. She appeared there on the popular television series "Home and Away" before leaving for Paris, where she studied at clown school. Yes, clown school.

As she explains, "I used to clown as a kid, and I just really wanted to study it. In terms of finding your body onstage, it was definitely useful, but other than that it wasn't beneficial. It's neat to be able to juggle now and then and do some cool mime tricks, but it was quite expensive as well. Actually Geoffrey Rush and Emma Thompson went there, so it's not that obscure. It sounds more strange than it is."

From Paris she moved to London, and she now splits her time between there and Los Angeles. She appeared as Shaggy's love interest in "Scooby Doo" and had a notable turn in "I {heart} Huckabees" as the replacement for Naomi Watts' corporate spokesmodel.

Her character in "Wedding Crashers" becomes the love interest of Vaughn, and there is immediately something funny about putting Fisher, 5-foot-2, next to the notoriously tall actor.

"He's 6-foot-4, he's like a circus freak he's so tall," she says, "and I'm like a circus freak because I'm so small. The dynamic physically, to do physical comedy with someone so huge, it's just funny."

In one of their earliest scenes together, the two dance at a wedding, and there is in fact something outlandish about the shots of Vaughn's entire torso towering over the seemingly tiny actress.

"I don't think you're supposed to laugh at those, that's really wrong," she scolds jokingly. "We were trying our hardest. If you only knew the hours we rehearsed. We both for some reason really cared about coming across as good dancers."

Acknowledging just how silly they look she quickly adds, "By the way, during that scene I have massive stilettos on." One additional bit of physical business, a nighttime tryst, required a body double. What is sure to be one the film's most talked-about moments is when Fisher fiddles about with Vaughn at the family dinner table for a rather long time. The under-the-table shots are alarmingly vigorous.

"I remember saying, 'Do we have to do that shot?' And they were like, 'Oh, we already did that.' I'm probably the only actress to have a body double and a hand double. Those scenes are not going to make my father happy. I'll have to be sure to tell him that's not me."

Though her role in "Wedding Crashers" is likely to raise her profile, there is also the small matter of Fisher's fiance, comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, best known for his character Ali G. The two generate some level of tabloid scrutiny in Britain -- Fisher is quick to set straight the story that they purchased a house from Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston -- but are for now at least relatively off the radar here in the States.

"We don't ever do interviews, and we don't talk about each other in the media," she says, turning serious for a moment. "He's done very few interviews at all, and I never say anything about him, so we don't have the Posh and Becks thing, and we don't generate heat like Jude Law and Sienna Miller or whoever. We keep to ourselves, and we're very private people, so it's not the same."

Cohen's film project of his character Borat, an inept Kazakh television host, has been shrouded in mystery. A question as to whether she will have a role in the film elicits a giggle and an eye role.

"Am I involved? From a professional point of view? No. Personally I am, but not professionally."

She adds, "I think anyone who has a fiance who wears a handlebar mustache on a regular basis would relate to the fact that it is preferable to be without."

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