Max Abadian/Corbis Outline
During her fourth day of filming underwater, Isla Fisher’s eyes began to sting. She wasn’t using goggles — her only attire was a one-piece bathing suit and high heels. There was no scuba equipment, so she often spent whole minutes submerged in a water tank without air. Oh, and her ankles and wrists were padlocked in chains.

It was the most fun Fisher had experienced on a movie in ages.

“It was great fun to get in a tank,” grins Fisher, relaxing on a couch inside Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont hotel several months later. “It’s like your childhood fantasy come true.”

Fisher dives deep in Now You See Me
Everett Collection
In Now You See Me, a thriller about magicians who stage daring illusions — and even more audacious bank heists — the 37-year-old Australian actress plays a modern-day female Houdini. In a pivotal scene, Fisher’s character performs a tricky underwater-escape routine in front of a live theater audience. During one of the scene’s final shots, Fisher once againpounded her manacled fists against the enclosure’s glass walls, her crimson hair billowing like blood in the water. Only this time, she really was in trouble. Her chain had snagged on a grid at the bottom of the tank.

“They had a guy who was off-camera, but he was quite a ways away with a traveling canister of oxygen,” Fisher recalls. “By the time I realized I couldn’t get up and beckoned for him, I had already run out of air.”

The actress knew there was a kill switch that could drain the tank in 70 seconds, but she couldn’t last that long. Yet she didn’t panic.

“Luckily, I managed to get free and stay level-headed and get out,” she says. “The director said to me, ‘Wow, I’ve worked with so many actors on big action movies, and you’re the only one who’s done all their own stunts.’ I said, ‘I didn’t know I had a choice!’ ” Fisher laughs. “I thought you just had to get on with it. It’s the Australian way!”

Plucky and game to try anything, Isla (pronounced eye-luh) is making a splash on the big screen following a semihiatus from acting. Until now, the diminutive redhead has been best known for comedies such as Wedding Crashers and Confessions of a Shopaholic. But this month, Fisher reintroduces herself to cinema audiences in dramatic fashion, showcasing her facility for more serious fare in Now You See Me, as well as in the highly anticipated The Great Gatsby. Dressed in striking flapper dresses and cloches, Fisher channels her moxie to portray Myrtle Wilson in the adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic­ novel set in the Roaring Twenties. That same fearlessness — greased by a genuine sweetness and an easygoing mirth — characterizes the way Fisher approaches everything in life.