Toni Collett (born 1 November 1972), credited professionally as Toni Collette, is an Australian actress and musician. One of Australia's most prolific actresses, she is known for her work in independent films as well as supporting roles in studio films. She has received numerous awards, including six AACTA Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award, and a Screen Actors Guild Award, and has been nominated twice for a British Academy Film Award and both once for an Academy Award and a Tony Award.
Collette in 2013
1 November 1972
Plumpton, New South Wales, Australia
|Alma mater||National Institute of Dramatic Art|
Australian Theatre for Young People
Dave Galafassi (m. 2003)
Born in Sydney, she is eldest of three children. Her interest in acting sparked after performing in a high school production of Godspell. She subsequently attended the National Institute of Dramatic Art for 18 months before dropping out to take part in a stage production of Uncle Vanya. She also appeared in stage productions at the Belvoir Street Theatre, under directorship of Geoffrey Rush. She made her feature film debut in 1992 and made her breakthrough with the comedy-drama film Muriel's Wedding (1994), for which she earned a Golden Globe Award nomination.
She subsequently achieved international recognition for her role in The Sixth Sense (1999), which became the highest grossing horror movie at the time and for which she was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Collette's continued association with such commercial films as the thrillers Shaft (2000) and Changing Lanes (2002), the comedy Tammy (2014), and the action thriller XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017) further sustained her success, as she continued to draw praise for her performances in independent films, including the comedy drama The Way, Way Back (2013) and the horror-drama Hereditary (2017). She received a BAFTA Award nomination for her role in About a Boy (2002) and won a Screen Actors Guild Award for her work in Little Miss Sunshine (2006). Her Broadway performances include the lead roles in The Wild Party and The Realistic Joneses, the former of which earned her a nomination for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical. On television, she played the lead role in the comedy-drama series United States of Tara, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award and Golden Globe Award.
In addition to acting, Colette has her own production company, Vocab Films and is the lead singer of the band Toni Collette & the Finish. In 2006, the band released their debut album Beautiful Awkward Pictures, which contained eleven tracks, all of which were written and composed by Collette. She is married to actor and drummer Dave Galafassi with whom she has two children.
She was born with the surname "Collett", but added an "e" at the end to be her stage name. In a 2015 episode of Who Do You Think You Are? she discovered that her biological paternal grandfather was an American Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy stationed in Australia during World War II, whose name Toni does not know. From an early age, Collette showed a talent for acting. She faked appendicitis when she was eleven, and was so convincing that doctors removed her appendix, although tests showed nothing wrong with it.
She attended Blacktown Girls' High School until the age of 16, and later attended both the Australian Theatre for Young People and National Institute of Dramatic Art. Her first acting role was onstage in the musical Godspell in Sydney in her early teens.
Collette made her television debut in 1990, in a guest appearance on the Seven Network drama series A Country Practice. In 1992, she made her feature film debut as part of the ensemble comedy-drama Spotswood (known in the U.S. as The Efficiency Expert), which starred Anthony Hopkins and which also featured Russell Crowe. Collette soon rocketed to international notice with her performance in the title role for Muriel's Wedding in 1994, a role for which she gained 18 kg (40 lb) in seven weeks. She won the Australian award for Best Actress as Muriel, her first of five Australian Film Institute awards. In 1996, she was part of the ensemble cast of the comedy, Così, and had a leading role in Emma as the naïve Harriet Smith. In 1998, she appeared in The Boys, based on a Sydney stage play of the same name. She received acclaim on Broadway, starring as Queenie in Michael John LaChiusa's musical work, The Wild Party. For this role, Collette was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.
Collette turned down the title role in Bridget Jones's Diary because she was committed to perform on Broadway at the time. In 2000, she was nominated for an Academy Award for her role as the mother of a troubled boy in the 1999 U.S. film The Sixth Sense, which also starred Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment.
In 2003, Collette played the lead role in Japanese Story as an Australian geologist traversing an arc of emotions in the course of an intense relationship with a visiting Japanese businessman. Her powerful performance led to numerous reviewers welcoming her back to playing lead roles, the first time since Muriel's Wedding and generally scored her performance as riveting. Collette won the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Actress for her performance.
In 2004, Collette starred with Nia Vardalos and David Duchovny in the musical comedy Connie and Carla, released by Universal Studios. Collette's only film in 2005 was In Her Shoes, a comedy-drama about the relationship between two different sisters and their estranged grandmother, co-starring Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine. Based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Jennifer Weiner, the production received generally positive reviews from critics, and became a moderate independent success, earning a total of US$82.2 million worldwide. Collette was subsequently nominated for a Satellite Award for Best Actress for her performance of a successful-but-lonely lawyer with low self-esteem, which Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle noted the focus of the film: "As usual, Collette's face is a fine-tuned transmitter of her emotions, moment by moment, and she becomes the locus of audience feeling."
In 2006, Collette starred in Little Miss Sunshine, a comedy-drama-road movie about a family's trip to a children's beauty pageant. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2006, and its distribution rights were bought by Fox Searchlight Pictures for one of the biggest deals made in the history of the festival. Released in July 2006, the film received major critical acclaim, resulting in several accolades such as four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, whilst Collette herself earned her second BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for her portrayal of the family's worn-out matriarch. A box office success, Little Miss Sunshine went on to gross US$100.5 million worldwide and became one of the most successful independent films of the mid-2000s.
In 2006, Collette also played supporting roles in the thriller films Like Minds, The Night Listener and The Dead Girl. Although the latter was released to positive reviews during its limited North American run, none of these films fared well at the box office, with Robin Williams-featuring The Night Listener emerging as the biggest-selling production with a global gross revenue of US$10.5 million. In her first television engagement in five years, the HBO-BBC joint miniseries Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006), Collette played an Australian government employee who tries to cope with the events following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the resulting tsunami in Thailand. Broadcast to controversial critics, her performance of an aid worker garnered Collette her first Primetime Emmy nomination and third Golden Globe nomination.
In 2008, Collette accepted the leading role in the Showtime comedy-drama series, United States of Tara. Created by Steven Spielberg and Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody, the show revolves around a wife and mother of two with dissociative identity disorder, coping with her seven alternate personalities. Originally planned for a twelve episode season, the series was picked up for a second and third season, broadcast in 2010 and 2011, respectively. Collette won both the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series and the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a TV Comedy for her performance on the show.
In 2011 and 2012, Collette took on a slew of supporting roles in independent films, as well as the 2011 remake of Fright Night. She also appeared in, among others, Jesus Henry Christ and Mental, which reunited her with Muriel's Wedding director P. J. Hogan.
In 2013, Collette earned critical acclaim for her work in the independent films The Way, Way Back as Pam, opposite Steve Carell and Sam Rockwell, and Enough Said as Sarah, with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini. For her work in The Way, Way Back, Collette received several glowing reviews. Andrew O'Heir of Salon Magazine praised her "brilliant, understated performance"; Peter Travers of Rolling Stone dubbed her work "stellar"; James Berardinelli described Collette as a "chameleon" and said that she gives a performance far and above what the role requires; and Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote that through Collette's performance, "Pam ... comes alive."
In the fall of 2013, Collette starred in the CBS drama Hostages, which received solid reviews albeit weak ratings. RedEye described her performance as "fascinating", Newsday as "superb", and USA Today as "nuanced" and "grounded." The series aired for fifteen episodes and, due to a combination of low ratings and a closed narrative, did not return for a second season.
Collette was the lead role in the Joanne Woodward-produced Lucky Them, which debuted at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival and was released theatrically on 30 May 2014. The film earned positive reviews, with Collette receiving the bulk of the praise. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the movie was "centered by smart, soulful work by the wonderful Toni Collette" and that she played the character of Ellie, "with warmth, realness and emotional transparency that make you stay with her even when she's pushing people away." Variety said that "it's Collette's show, and the actress fully conveys the brittle, hard-edged cynicism of someone who's been around the block a few times, jaded by years of exposure to the empty promises and broken dreams that proliferate on her chosen beat ... it generates a surprising degree of suspense as it barrels toward its final revelations, culminating in an unexpectedly emotional payoff played with piercing delicacy by Collette." The film played the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival, where Joe Bendel of Libertas Film Magazine ranked Collette's leading performance as the fourth-best of the festival. Upon release, Mike D'Angelo of The Dissolve wrote that "Toni Collette is capable of anything" and other raves came from The Village Voice, the New York Post and the Los Angeles Times. Lucky Them received mixed reviews including The New York Times, Slant and PopMatters, though Collette's performance was consistently praised. Overall, the film was ranked "fresh" by Rotten Tomatoes with 76% of critics reviewing the film positively, and it received a weighted score of 65 by Metacritic, equating to "generally positive reviews."
After a 14-year absence, Collette returned to Broadway in the spring of 2014, starring in Will Eno's play The Realistic Joneses. She co-starred alongside Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei. The play examines a couple who project its insecurities and fears onto their next-door neighbors with the same last name. The play opened on 6 April to positive reviews, with Collette and the entire cast earning high praise. A rave review from The New York Times thought that "Ms. Collette exudes a touching, exasperated dignity as Jennifer." Variety called her work "terribly funny," while The Hollywood Reporter claimed that "Collette, whose naturalness can cut through even the very deliberate theatrical artifice of Eno's dialogue and scene construction, anchors the play with her somber restraint and deadpan delivery." The New York Post, more critical of the play, highlighted Collette's performance: "Collette does some heavy lifting to fill in Eno's blanks. You can read deep sadness in the wide planes of her expressive face, in her lost, unfocused eyes." Other good reviews for the play and her performance came from USA Today, Newsday, the Chicago Tribune and The Economist. Collette and her co-stars won a Drama Desk Special Award for Best Ensemble Performance.
In 2014, Collette starred in the badly received tragi-comedy A Long Way Down, with Pierce Brosnan and Aaron Paul. The same year Collette had a cameo in the poorly received Melissa McCarthy vehicle Tammy, and appeared in Hector and the Search for Happiness opposite Simon Pegg. Her other roles included the drama Miss You Already opposite Drew Barrymore and the drug-themed drama Glassland with Will Poulter.
In June 2018, Collette gave an acclaimed performance in the A24 horror film Hereditary. The film scored an 89% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and an 87/100 score on Metacritic.Entertainment Weekly praised Collette for her "real dramatic power and force," while the Chicago Tribune complimented her "fierce performance with a human pulse".
In 2017, she formed a production company, Vocab Films, with Jen Turner and acquired the rights to Graeme Simsion's novel and screenplay The Best of Adam Sharp. In July 2017, it was announced that Vocab Films would team with RadicalMedia to develop Julia Dahl's novel Invisible City for television.
In October 2006, she began touring Australia to promote her first vocal album Beautiful Awkward Pictures, released on Hoola Hoop Records under the name Toni Collette & the Finish, a band for which her husband plays drums. Collette appeared on the Australian television show Cool Aid and performed the song "Look Up" from the album. In July 2007, Collette and the Finish were a headlining act at the Sydney show of Live Earth. She sang a cover of T. Rex's "Children of the Revolution" with The Finish.
She is a supporter of animal rights and PETA. Back in 2005, she urged then-Prime Minister John Howard to end the Australian sheep farming practice of mulesing, which many animal rights activists consider cruel.
|This Marching Girl Thing||1994||Cindy||Short film|
|Muriel's Wedding||1994||Muriel Heslop|
|The Thief and the Cobbler||1995||Mad Holy Old Witch||Voice|
|Lilian's Story||1996||Young Lilian Singer|
|The James Gang||1997||Julia Armstrong|
|Diana & Me||1997||Diana Spencer|
|Velvet Goldmine||1998||Mandy Slade|
|8½ Women||1999||Griselda / Sister Concordia|
|The Sixth Sense||1999||Lynn Sear|
|The Magic Pudding||2000||Meg Bluegum||Voice|
|About a Boy||2002||Fiona Brewer|
|Japanese Story||2003||Sandy Edwards|
|The Last Shot||2004||Emily French|
|Connie and Carla||2004||Carla|
|In Her Shoes||2005||Rose Feller|
|Little Miss Sunshine||2006||Sheryl Hoover|
|The Night Listener||2006||Donna D. Logand|
|Like Minds||2006||Sally Rowe|
|The Dead Girl||2006||Arden|
|The Black Balloon||2008||Maggie Mollison|
|Hey, Hey, It's Esther Blueburger||2008||Mary|
|Mary and Max||2009||Mary Daisy Dinkle||Voice|
|Jesus Henry Christ||2011||Patricia Herman|
|Fright Night||2011||Jane Brewster|
|Mental||2012||Sharon "Shaz" Thornbender|
|The Way, Way Back||2013||Pam|
|Lucky Them||2013||Ellie Klug|
|A Long Way Down||2014||Maureen Thompson|
|Hector and the Search for Happiness||2014||Agnes|
|The Boxtrolls||2014||Lady Portley Rind||Voice|
|Blinky Bill the Movie||2015||Beryl and Cheryl||Voice|
|Miss You Already||2015||Milly|
|Jasper Jones||2017||Ruth Bucktin|
|XXX: Return of Xander Cage||2017||Jane Marke|
|The Yellow Birds||2017||Amy Bartle|
|Fun Mom Dinner||2017||Kate|
|Please Stand By||2017||Scottie|
|Hereditary||2018||Annie Graham||Also executive producer|
|Hearts Beat Loud||2018||Leslie|
|Knives Out||2019||Joni Thrombey|
|Dream Horse||2020||Jan Vokes||Post-production|
|I'm Thinking of Ending Things||TBA||Post-production|
|A Country Practice||1990||Tracy||Episode: "The Sting: Part 1"|
|Dinner with Friends||2001||Beth||Television movie|
|Tsunami: The Aftermath||2006||Kathy Graham||Television movie|
|United States of Tara||2009–2011||Tara Gregson||36 episodes|
|Rake||2012||Claudia Marshall, Premier of New South Wales||Episode: "R vs Mohammed"|
|Hostages||2013–2014||Ellen Sanders||15 episodes|
|Devil's Playground||2014||Margaret Wallace||Episode: "I Will Bring Fire onto This Earth"|
|Wanderlust||2018||Joy Richards||6 episodes|
|Unbelievable||2019||Det. Grace Rasmussen||Miniseries|
- Beautiful Awkward Pictures (2006) – Toni Collette & The Finish
Awards and nominations
- "Free spirit". The Sun-Herald. 21 July 2004.
- Osenlund, R. Kurt (26 October 2015). "Toni, Collected". Out.
- Hume, Marion (21 July 2004). "Free spirit". The Sun-Herald. Retrieved 11 August 2015.
- Eddy, Louise (20 August 2015). "Toni traces her family tree back to Bathurst". westernadvocate.com.au.
- "Can you help Toni Collette?". news.com.au. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
- "Toni Collette". Enough Rope. 22 September 2003. Archived from the original on 4 March 2017. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
- Bhattacharya, Sanjiv (20 August 2006). "Collette call". The Observer. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Maddox, Garry (27 September 2003). "Straight to the top". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
- Hooton, Amanda (8 September 2012). "Don't call her Muriel". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 May 2017.
- "In Step With...Toni Collette". Parade. 11 January 2009. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Dubecki, Larissa (20 October 2006). "Golden moments with Toni". The Age. Melbourne. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "The 72nd Academy Awards 2000". Oscars.org. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
- Ebert, Roger (6 August 1999). "The Sixth Sense". Roger Ebert.com. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
- Stratton, David (10 December 2000). "Review: 'The Magic Pudding'". Variety. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
- Patterson, John (5 June 2004). "On top down under". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Berardinelli, James. "Japanese Story". Reelviews Movie Reviews. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Ebert, Roger (30 January 2004). "Japanese Story". rogerebert.com. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "In Her Shoes (2005)". The-Numbers.com. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- LaSalle, Mick (7 October 2005). "Oh, grow up. And move out of here while you're at it". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Duong, Senh (21 January 2006). "Sundance: Searchlight Spends Big For 'Little Miss Sunshine'". Rotten Tomatoes. Archived from the original on 5 November 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Awards for Toni Colette". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 22 February 2009.
- "Little Miss Sunshine (2006)". The-Numbers.com. Retrieved 3 May 2010.
- "The Dead Girl (2006)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
- "The Night Listener (2006)". The-Numbers.com. Retrieved 6 May 2010.
- Bianco, Robert (7 December 2006). "HBO's 'Tsunami' is itself a disaster, and just wrong". USA Today. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Toni Collette". Television Academy. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Eng, Joyce (20 September 2009). "30 Rock, Mad Men Repeat, While Jon Cryer and Toni Collette Surprise at Emmys". TV Guide. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "DreamWorks Adds Colin Farrell and Toni Collette to Fright Night". Dread Central. 10 May 2010. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- O'Hehir, Andrew (5 July 2013). "Pick of the week: "The Way, Way Back" is a wistful summer escape". Salon.com. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Travers, Peter (8 July 2013). "The Way Way Back". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Berardinelli, James (16 July 2013). "The Way Way Back". Reelviews Movie Reviews. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Sharkey, Betsy (4 July 2013). "Movie review: 'The Way, Way Back' has a sweet side and a sting". Los Angeles Times.
- Wagner, Curt (22 September 2013). "Monday suspense TV: 'The Blacklist' has edge over 'Hostages'". RedEye. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Gay, Verne (20 September 2013). "'Hostages' review: Thrill ride". Newsday. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Bianco, Robert (22 September 2013). "'Blacklist,' 'Hostages' each have suspenseful charms". USA Today.
- Rooney, David (11 September 2013). "Lucky Them: Toronto Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Chang, Justin (12 September 2013). "Toronto Film Review: 'Lucky Them'". Variety.
- Greene, Steve (29 April 2014). "Critics Pick the Best Movies at the Tribeca Film Festival". Indiewire. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Klimek, Chris (29 May 2014). "Lucky Them". Archived from the original on 24 March 2015. Retrieved 8 July 2015.
- Packham, Chris (28 May 2014). "The Nimble Lucky Them Seeks Out a Grunge Legend". Village Voice. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Lumenick, Lou (28 May 2014). "Indie charmer 'Lucky Them' boasts a rock solid cast". New York Post.
- Tsai, Martin (5 June 2014). "'Lucky Them' chases after a vanished rock 'n' roll legend". Los Angeles Times.
- "Lucky Them". rottentomatoes.com. 30 May 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Lucky Them". Metacritic. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Realistic Joneses Stars Toni Collette And Michael C. Hall". The New York Times. 7 April 2014.
- Stasio, Marilyn (6 April 2014). "Broadway Review: 'The Realistic Joneses'". Variety. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Rooney, David (6 April 2014). "Theater Review: The Realistic Joneses". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Vincentelli, Elisabeth (6 April 2014). "Eno packs powerhouse quartet in 'The Realistic Joneses'". New York Post. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- "Review Roundup: "The Realistic Joneses" Opens on Broadway". Broadway World. 6 April 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
- Cox, Gordon (25 April 2014). "'Gentleman's Guide' Racks Up 12 Nominations for Drama Desk Awards". Variety.
- "Toni Collette Joins the Cast of Jasper Jones" (PDF). Porchlight Films. Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 October 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- "Toni Collette Joins Jasper Jones Cast". Inside Film (Australia). Retrieved 9 October 2015.
- Hereditary, retrieved 21 June 2018
- Hereditary, retrieved 21 June 2018
- "Toni Collette is scary good in the terrifying 'Hereditary': EW review". EW.com. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
- Phillips, Michael. "'Hereditary' review: Toni Collette reveals a sixth sense for icy terror". chicagotribune.com. Retrieved 21 June 2018.
- Petski, Denise (16 September 2019). "'Unbelievable': Toni Collette, Merritt Wever & Kaitlyn Dever To Star In Netflix Limited Series". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 25 June 2018.
- Busch, Anita (23 May 2017). "Toni Collette Options Graeme Simsion Novel 'The Best of Adam Sharp' For Her Vocab Films". Deadline. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- "Toni Collette to EP and Write TV Adaptation of Julia Dahl's "Invisible City"". Women and Hollywood. 13 July 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
- Dubecki, Larissa (3 November 2006). "Toni's hidden talent". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Dunn, Emily (7 July 2007). "Sydney kicks off Live Earth series". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Sams, Christine (8 July 2007). "Sydney's giant, jolly green gig". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Benns, Matthew; Sams, Christine (12 January 2003). "Toni's wedding". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Tan, Michelle (10 January 2008). "Toni Collette Has a Girl". People. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- Chi, Paul; Jordan, Julie (25 April 2011). "Toni Collette Is a Mom – Again!". People. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Toni not sheepish". The Age. Melbourne. AAP. 1 July 2005. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
- "Toni not sheepish". The Age. 1 July 2005.