The sympathetic, red-haired, porcelain-skinned Fisher has portrayed strong women on film and TV since the early 1980s. Born in England and raised there as well as in Italy, Turkey and Texas, she got her start on the ABC soap opera "The Edge of Night", appearing as the wealthy Deborah Saxon from 1976 to 1981. Fisher followed with a brief turn playing a record executive on "The Guiding Light" (CBS, 1985). During that time, she was studying at the Actors Studio and appeared in several theatrical productions, most notably Sam Shepard's Off-Broadway success "Fool for Love" (1984).
Fisher made her screen debut with Henry Jaglom's "Can She Bake a Cherry Pie?" (1983), and went on to appear in mostly supporting roles like a former porno star in Norman Mailer's "Tough Guys Don't Dance" (1987) and one of the kidnappers in Paul Schrader's critically-acclaimed "Patty Hearst" (1988). She was cast as the TV icon Lucille Ball in the ill-advised small screen biopic "Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter" (1991). Clint Eastwood tapped her for a small role in "Pink Cadillac" (1989) and the pair began a six-year offscreen relationship that yielded a daughter. Eastwood also gave Fisher her breakout role as the prostitute Strawberry Alice in his Oscar-winning Western "Unforgiven" (1992). She went on to reteam with Jaglom for "Babyfever" (1994) and played a poverty-stricken farm wife in the underrated "The Stars Fell on Henrietta" (1995). In 1997, James Cameron cast Fisher as the prim society-conscious mother of Kate Winslet in the Oscar-winning blockbuster "Titanic" (1997), and despite their split she remained friendly enough with Eastwood to appear as a D.A. in his 1999 film "True Crime."
Fisher embarked on a productive career as an in-demand character actress, appearing in major films such as Steven Soderberg's acclaimed "Traffic" (1999), indie darlings such as the Scots hairstylist indie "The Big Tease" (1999) and conventional action fare like the stolen car-themed "Gone in Sixty Seconds" (2000). She also forayed into television, appearing as Dr. Elizabeth 'Liz' Carson on the 1999-2000 season of the CBS sit-com "Becker" and playing a pair of mothers of celebrity icons: Ella Hepburn in the telepic "The Audrey Hepburn Story" (2000) and Janet Lee Bouvier Auchincloss in the miniseries "Jackie Bouvier Kennedy Onassis" (2000). The actress took center stage in another TV movie, "Passion and Prejudice" (2001), playing prim and proper New England college professor who hires handsome young prison inmate to tend her yard through a prison work furlough program, then becomes obsessed with destroying his life when he ends their love affair upon being released from prison.
After a regular role on Kevin Williamson's short-lived WB drama "Glory Days" (2002) and a stint on the quickly cancelled NBC legal drama "The Lyon's Den" (2003), Fisher again began making potent appearances on the big screen. She had a brief but brilliant turn in "Blue Car" (2003) as the wife of a high school teacher (David Straithairn) who immediately reads the hidden signals when the young student (Agnes Bruckner) he's mentoring--and trying to seduce--shows up during a family trip to the beach. The actress was also effective as a no-nonsense attorney who tries to champion Jennifer Connelly in her legal battle to reclaim her illegally auctioned home in the haunting "House of Sand and Fog" (2003).