Thought of the Day 11.1.12 Toni Collette


“I don’t understand why I do what I do. I don’t understand why I act anymore. But I do know that I love it, and that I find it really interesting and satisfying to enter into other worlds and explore different ways of thinking.”
Toni Collette

Toni Collette (United States of Tara)

Toni Collette (United States of Tara) (Photo credit: Capital M)

Antonia Collette was born on this day in Blacktown, Sydney, Australia in 1972. She is 40 years old today.

Toni is the oldest of three, and only girl, to Judy and Bob Collette. The family lived about an hour away from Sydney where Bob was a truck driver and Judy was a customer-service rep. When she was six the family moved to the Sydney suburbs. She had a number of pets as a child, including cats, dogs, birds and rabbits. Toni was always a tom-boy and athletic.

Collette at 15 at the Blackstown Girls High School [Image courtesy: Toni Collette Online]

At 14 she caught the acting bug when she performed in her school’s production of Godspell. By 16, with her parents permission, she dropped out of school and enrolled in NIDA (the National Institute of Dramatic Arts, ) It was a three-year acting course, but she left after 18 months to take a role in her first film Spotswood with Anthony Hopkins and Russell Crowe. She was nominated for Best Supporting Actress by the Australian Film Institutefor her role as Wendy in the movie.

She moved to the Theatre, playing Petra in A Little Night Music , Meg in Away .

…She won a Critics’ Circle Award as Best Newcomer for her performance as Sonya in Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya“. There would also be Aristophane’s “Frogs (…directed by Geoffrey Rush), Summer Of The Aliens , and … Cordelia in King Lear. [Toni Collette Online]

Cover of "Muriel's Wedding"

Cover of Muriel’s Wedding

Her break out film was Muriel’s Wedding. Her hefty Muriel (she gained 40 pounds for the role) is a misfit. She has no direction in life. Her one hazy ambition is to get married, (even though she’s never had a boy friend).

A very special actress was needed, someone who could reveal the terrible torment and turmoil inside the outwardly cheery Muriel, someone who could really enjoy the extravagant highs of Muriel’s holiday – including a storming rendition of Abba’s Waterloo with Rachel Griffiths. [Ibid]

Collette is wonderful in the film about a “girl who didn’t fit in, but learns to stand out.” [from the dvd cover]. [If you are planning a Quirky Australian Film Night — and why wouldn’t you be? — throw this one in with Strictly Ballroom]

Cover of "Emma [Region 2]"

Cover of Emma [Region 2]

Her simple, sweet Harriet Smith in the 1996 Gwyneth Paltrow/Jeremy Northam version of Jane Austen’s Emma was a delight. [Click Here to read the Thought of the Day on Gwyneth Paltrow.]

She made her Broadway in 1999 debut in Michael John LaChiusa’s The Wild Party. She nominated for a Toni Award, a Drama Desk Award and a Theatre World Award (Collette won the latter.)

She was offered the role of Bridget Jones, but had to turn it down because of her Broadway commitment. No worries, that left her free to take the role in M. Night Shyamalan’s The Sixth Sense.  [Click Here to read the Thought of the Day on M. Night Shyamalan] Collette  earned an Oscar nomination as the harried mother who glued her troubled son to reality in this thriller. She turned in a fantastic performance among a cast full of fantastic performances and her turn from smiling, singing Muriel or bland, sweet Harriet to intense, worried Lynn Sear let the world know that she was an actress to look out for.

She had a supporting role in Nick Hornby’s About a Boy as Fiona, and in The Hours, as Kitty in 2002. Collette received a slew of awards and nominations for both.

Cover of "Little Miss Sunshine [Blu-ray]&...

Cover of Little Miss Sunshine [Blu-ray]

Collette played mom Sheryl Hoover in the sleeper hit of 2006, Little Miss Sunshine. Sunshine was an ensemble piece with quirky characters all around.

…Meet the Hoovers, an Albuquerque clan riddled with depression, hostility, and the tattered remnants of the American Dream; despite their flakiness, they manage to pile into a VW van for a weekend trek to L.A. in order to get moppet daughter Olive (Abigail Breslin) into the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Much of the pleasure of this journey comes from watching some skillful comic actors doing their thing…[From Robert Horton’s review of Little Miss Sunshine on Amazon.com]

Again Collette plays a mom just trying to keep her family together (although to a lot more laughs here than she did in Sixth Sense.)

HBO and the BBC joined forces to produce Tsunami: The Aftermath in which Collette plays an Australian aid worker named Kathy Graham. Tim Roth, Hugh Bonneville & Chiwetel Ejiofor also star in the film that dramatized events around the devastating the 2004 tsunami that hit Thailand.

United States of Tara

United States of Tara (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She won an Emmy, a Golden Globe and an Australian Film Institute Award for her work on the United States of Tara. In it she plays a housewife with dissociative identity disorder. When stressed one of her multiple personalities come out. The show ran for three seasons on Showtime.

Collette re-teamed with her Muriel  director PJ Hogan for the quirky Aussie film Mental. It was release Down Under on October 4th.  Other indie films out (or coming out) include the comedy Jesus Henry Christ — a comedy about a ten-year old, “petri-dish”, boy genius who goes in search of his biological father and  Hitchcock — about the making of Psycho.

Collette and husband Dave Galafassi headline the group Toni Collette and the Finish. Their cd, “Beautiful Awkward Pictures” came out in 2006 features 11 of Collette’s original songs.

Here’s Cowboy Games…

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About ritalovestowrite

Freelance writer, graphic designer, musician, foodie and Jane Austen enthusiast in Northern Baltimore County, Maryland. As a writer I enjoy both fiction and non fiction (food, travel and local interest stories.) As an advocate for the ARTS, one of my biggest passions is helping young people find a voice in all the performing arts. To that end it has been my honor to give one-on-one lessons to elementary, middle and high school students in graphic design and music. And as JANE-O I currently serve as the regional coordinator for JASNA Maryland and am working on a Regency/Federal cooking project. View all posts by ritalovestowrite

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