Posted on June 30th, 2019 by Frederik

It seemed like a recipe for a disaster. An out of work and virtually broke director, who couldn’t keep a job, decided to make a film based (loosely) on the true story of his sister stealing money from their father. There was no real romance, no pat, happy ending and everybody who read the script thought the main fictionalised character not very likeable. Muriel Heslop was dowdy, listened to daggy music, betrayed a friend and married for revenge. The story was “denounced” by Film Australia which refused to fund it. But when it finally premiered in September 1994, 25 years ago this year, Muriel’s Wedding was on its way to becoming a huge, but unlikely, hit. The story of how this small, independent film made it to the screen could be a film in itself. The enduring tale was later turned into a stage musical, which also became a hit, and is being revived in a new production returning to the Sydney stage on July 4 at the Sydney Lyric Theatre. The director, Paul John “P.J.” Hogan and his wife, screenwriter and director Jocelyn Moorehouse, said that before Muriel he was “broke” and since graduating from film school in 1984 had found only “consistent unemployment”. “We wanted to make feature films, but could only get TV jobs. I got less work than Jocelyn did, because she’s a much nicer person,” Hogan tells The Saturday Telegraph. In 1991 Moorehouse directed the critically acclaimed film Proof starring Hugo Weaving, with Hogan as an assistant director. But after that, work was hard to find and in the late 1980s and early ’90s Hogan began to think seriously about whether he should be “thinking of another career”. Then inspiration came from an unlikely source – his family. The complete article can be read in the press library.

Posted on December 5th, 2018 by Frederik

Great article by The Hollywood Reporter about Toni’s upcoming Netflix series: When the article “An Unbelievable Story of Rape” was published in 2015, it didn’t get much attention in Hollywood. But times have changed, and the now-newsy story (by ProPublica’s T. Christian Miller and Ken Armstrong of The Marshall Project) will soon be available on Netflix as an eight-part series. The story centers on a woman who reported being raped at knifepoint only to end up being prosecuted for lying. Two female detectives then look into the case and come to a surprising conclusion. Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Chabon and his wife, Ayelet Waldman, pursued an adaptation shortly after the article was published but had a hard time getting traction. “Nobody wanted to talk about rape,” Waldman (joined by Chabon at the Hammer Museum’s Gala in the Garden earlier this fall) told THR of the piece, which won a 2016 Pulitzer Prize in the Explanatory Reporting category. Enter Netflix, which picked it up at the start of the year, ordering it to series and gathering a team that also included Susannah Grant, Katie Couric, Sarah Timberman and Carl Beverly (who had also been pursuing it independently). The limited series, which recently wrapped production, stars Toni Collette, Merritt Wever and Kaitlyn Dever. “History caught up,” adds Waldman. “It’s a show about believing women, and we couldn’t have a better moment to show America what happens when you don’t believe women.”

Posted on September 22nd, 2018 by Frederik

The Sydney Morning Herald has a great lengthy interview with Toni Collette on the upcoming release of “Wanderlust” in Australia: In the 20-plus years that she’s been on our screens, Toni Collette has tended to avoid playing characters she has much in common with. That, she reasons, would be boring. It means she wasn’t ever like the awkward Muriel Heslop in her breakout film, P.J. Hogan’s 1994 classic Muriel’s Wedding. Nor has she been a suicidal hippie like Fiona in the 2002 British rom-com About a Boy. And (as far as she knows) neither of her children sees dead people, as her character’s son did in Hollywood’s 1999 supernatural flick The Sixth Sense. But Collette’s latest role is as a therapist. And within a few minutes of her relaxing into a chair in the restaurant in London’s West End where we meet, I suspect she’s fairly good at giving profound advice. “Life is long,” she says, scanning the menu and casting it aside in one smooth motion. “Some people stick to the rules, some people question who made them. And those people then pave their own way, which is a braver, more satisfying path, yes, but it’s also a scarier one, you know?” I think so. To be fair to Collette, we are talking about the themes of Wanderlust, a new drama co-produced by the BBC and Netflix, in which she plays Joy, a counsellor who tries to resuscitate her own marriage after a cycling accident. But gentle wisdom, smoothed by travel, seems to pour from her. The interview can be read in its entirety on their website:

Posted on September 4th, 2018 by Frederik

“Wanderlust” premieres on BBC1 tonight, and so far it has received some of the silliest promotion from the British press one can imagine. I won’t bother linking to any of the “most X-rated drama ever”, “groundbreaking sex scenes” and “first orgasm on the BBC”. I assume those who tune in because of these headlines will be in for a disappointment. We’ll find out later today. In the meantime, the Telegraph’s Stella Magazine has run a cover story on Toni this Sunday. Here’s a preview: In the 20-plus years that she’s been on our screens, Toni Collette has tended to avoid playing characters she has much in common with. That, she reasons, would just be boring. It means she wasn’t ever like the awkward Muriel Heslop in her breakout film, Muriel’s Wedding. Nor has she been a suicidal hippie like Fiona in About a Boy. And (as far as she knows) neither of her children sees dead people, as her son in The Sixth Sense did.But Toni’s next role is as a therapist. And within a few minutes of her relaxing into a chair in the West End restaurant where we meet, I suspect she’s fairly good at giving profound advice. You can read the complete article on The Telegraph, in case you have a premium membership for their articles.

Posted on September 4th, 2018 by Frederik

Article from Radio Times for today’s premiere of “Wanderlust” on BBC1: In some ways the concept behind Wanderlust is a hard sell: a drama about the sex life of a middle-aged married couple? And the wife is a psychotherapist called Joy whose whole life has been shaken up by a cycling accident? And the husband is an English teacher called Alan? Could be dull. But we have good news! Wanderlust is excellent. Even better, Joy is played by Toni Collette who could give an Oscar-worthy performance just by reading out the back of a shampoo bottle, and Alan is played by The Halcyon’s Steven Mackintosh. No shampoo bottles are necessary because playwright Nick Payne (Constellations) has delivered a script that is funny and pacy and also very, very truthful. Sometimes painfully so. What we get is a drama that takes a hard look at marriage, monogamy and the thorny connections between love and lust and sex. While Joy and Alan are having their Bedroom Issues, their two kids are navigating problems of their own: hormone-filled teenager Tom is desperate to get going, and grown-up daughter Naomi is suffering the heartbreak of rejection. The complete article can be read Radio Times.

Posted on August 7th, 2018 by Frederik

Here’s a nice Q&A with Toni as Out Magazine reports on the release of “Hearts Beat Loud” (which I thouht has been released in June?!): Toni Collette has held a firm place in our hearts — and given us karaoke goals — since her debut as gawky ABBA fangirl Muriel in 1994’s Muriel’s Wedding. This summer, The Aussie actress returned to horror (The Sixth Sense, anyone?) with Hereditary and got tuneful again in the queer-themed indie Hearts Beat Loud. Here, Collette dishes on music, her homeland, and Muriel’s lasting appeal.

What are your thoughts on 1994’s Australian film explosion, with Muriel’s Wedding and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert?
Those two films and Strictly Ballroom came flying out of the country in a very short period of time. It was exciting. I think those things are determined by the filmmakers. That’s what creates the wave. I don’t know if it’s happened since.

What do you remember about the reception of Muriel’s Wedding in America, and the splash you made as an actress?
I felt so alive and appreciative. It was such a surprise when people embraced that character. The movie was life-changing — it helped me embark on a career I never could have dreamed of.

Do you think the success of Muriel and Priscilla made it easier for American filmmakers to do more queer-targeted films?
Priscilla certainly did. It was so fun, but not without depth and poignancy. I don’t know if it opened doors for other films, but when something like that is available to people, it must.

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