The comedian and actress (who definitely is not Amy Adams) talks country-hopping, the perils of being a redhead, and the most romantic thing a man can do.
In your new movie, Tag, you’re one of a group of college friends who play an epic game of one-upmanship, with surprises that go on for years. Have you ever planned a big surprise or had something major sprung on you?
For my 40th birthday, my husband [Sacha Baron Cohen] threw me a completely amazing surprise. I had chosen my guest list and the cocktails for the party. He knows I like Katy Perry, and flash cut to midnight on the dance floor. I see a sparkling microphone, and then who turns around? Katy Perry. It was basically me and a bunch of my mates just dancing in a circle, screaming along to every lyric. Best surprise ever.
Did you try to keep it going with something as cool for him?
He didn’t want to get a pet, but on his birthday, I surprised him with two rescue cats—Hamilton Whiskers and Madame Tiny Paws. He gave me Katy Perry; I got him some animals he may or may not be allergic to.
You have often starred in romantic-comedies. Do you consider yourself a romantic?
Definitely. I am always drawn to stories in which characters have some romantic connection. I also read romance novels, and I watch those kinds of movies. Sacha and I have been together for 17 years, and getting married in itself is such a romantic and optimistic choice.
What is the most romantic thing a man can do?
Honestly, if you manage to get your shoes into the closet, you’re ahead of the game, because when you leave them at the bottom of the stairs, contrary to popular belief, a fairy does not float them up the stairs and into the closet. Nor does a fairy replace the toilet-paper roll or take the garbage out.
I think helping is deeply romantic—just paying attention to the other person and showing that you are really seeing them.
To be clear: Chores are romantic to you?
I think helping is deeply romantic. Anytime you do something supportive at home, it is romantic. Is it wrong that I think that? Is that crazy? Just paying attention to the other person and showing that you are really seeing them—that is the most romantic.
You converted to Judaism to marry Sacha, which is a big romantic gesture.
I have really embraced Judaism. Actually, today I was making a chicken soup, but without knaidel [matzo balls].
Are you a good cook?
I’m never going to be an amazing chef, but I did come in as runner-up at the school bake-off for my cheesecake—quite a feat given the competitive mums.
You were born in Oman and raised in the U.K. and Australia. Do you feel more at home in any one place?
We split our time between L.A. and London, and my immediate family is in Greece and Germany, but I FaceTime with my dad every day. I definitely have a complicated cultural identity. I identify very much with being an Australian; I have kind of a laid-back sensibility, and my outlook on life is very down-to-earth and Aussie. I’m also quite English because I’m into manners and love a cup of tea.
How did all that moving around affect your growing up?
I had to learn to make friends quickly. That’s probably where the root of my comedy comes from: I would arrive in a new school and the easiest way to make friends is to act like the class clown. I was born with big ears and big feet, so I had physical comedy already, before I even opened my mouth. I would just make people laugh, and that was an easy way to make friends. But the downside of my childhood is sometimes I make connections easily and quickly, though they may not feel as deep, perhaps, because I know they might be finite.
And how was being a redhead as a kid?
I got teased growing up in Australia and then in London, where people label you a ginger. It can make you feel like an outsider. I was the only redhead in my class, with people calling me carrottop or asking whether the carpet matches the drapes. Gingers are much more accepted in America than in England.
Do you feel differently about it now?
Yeah, now I embrace it because it makes me unique. I also used to want to be taller and always wore heels, but then I realized the entire sight gag in Wedding Crashers worked because of the height difference between me and Vince [Vince Vaughn’s 6’5″ to her 5’3″]. Now I think that the more you you can be, the better. Everybody else is taken.
On that note, is it weird that you so often get confused with Amy Adams?
Everyone says she’s my doppelgänger, but she has beautiful blue eyes and I have brown eyes, and she’s taller than me. We’re friends, and I even introduced my dad to her—he said he couldn’t see the resemblance, but everyone else seems to. One year for our Christmas card, I thought it would be funny to put Amy’s face onto my body in the picture of me with Sacha and the kids. Nobody noticed—they just said, “That’s the cutest picture of you and Sacha.” Honestly, I have never laughed so hard.