BiographyToni Collette grew up in Blacktown, an hour away from Sydney. Her father, Bob, was a truck driver while her mother, Judy, worked for a courier company. The family would be completed by two younger brothers. When Toni was 6, the Collettes moved out to the suburbs, where she found herself mercilessly teased for being a "westie". But she fell quickly into suburban life. The family kept cats, dogs, birds and rabbits and Toni, hanging with her brothers and very much a tom-boy, would climb trees, ride her bike, play basketball, basically lived an energetic Australian life. At 14, she was cast in a school performance of Godspell, and that was pretty much that, Toni being one of those lucky few who find their vocation early. At 16, with the support of her parents, Toni decided to leave school and enrol at the National Institute of Dramatic Arts on a three-year course.
Toni as a teenager with her two brothers. With Geraldine Turner in her professional stage debut "A Little Night Music". In her first television appearance, on 1990's "A Country Practice". Opposite Ben Mendelsohn in her motion picture debut "Spotswood".
Ever headstrong and keen to follow her instincts, she left after a mere 18 months to act for real in her feature film debut, "Spotswood", starring Anthony Hopkins as an efficiency expert brought into a moccasin factory to cut costs. Focusing on everyone else's business, he neglects his own home life and must change his attitudes sharpish. Toni played the sweet but plain Wendy, who loves the straight-up Ben Mendelsohn, who in turn has a crush on the boss's daughter. Toni had a great time filming, particularly when hanging out with co-star Russell Crowe. "Russell took me out, got me drunk, gave me pot and wiped up the vomit when I couldn't handle it," she told Time Out New York. It's unsurprising, because Spotswood was a great experience for a young actress who was barely 18. Better still, she was nominated as Best Supporting Actress by the Australian Film Institute.
You're terrible, MurielNow, Toni concentrated on theatre. With the Sydney Theatre Company, she played Petra in "A Little Night Music" and Meg in "Away". In 1992, 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" at the famous Belvoir Street Theatre (directed by Geoffrey Rush), "Summer Of The Aliens ", and she'd play Cordelia in "King Lear".
Toni supported herself by delivering pizzas. She did not have to wait long for this to change. In 1992, she went up for the role of Muriel Heslop in PJ Hogan's unruly comedy "Muriel's Wedding". Enduring life with a cruel and dominating local politician father in Porpoise Spit, Muriel finds herself cast aside by her friends, so she steals some money and takes off on a exotic holiday, looking for love and marriage. 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. Toni won the part, working with a dietician and putting on 40 pounds for the role, in just seven weeks. And she was wonderful, winning Best Actress from the Australian Film Institute and, as the film slowly grew into a worldwide success, also picking up a Golden Globe nomination for Toni. International success was beginning to beckon, but Toni remained in Australia for her next two projects, both challenging enough to interest this artistically ambitious young tyro. First came "Lilian's Story", about a woman who leaves a mental institution after 40 years, with Toni playing the young Lilian, when she's first beaten down by her controlling and unspeakably un-encouraging father. Once more she was honoured by the AFI, this time as Best Supporting Actress.
After this came more nuttiness with "Cosi", where a young theatre director tries to put on a performance of Mozart's Cosi Fan Tutte in a home for the rehabilitation of mental patients - a problem as none of the inmates speak Italian. Toni was here re-acquainted with director Mark Joffe, who'd helmed "Spotswood," and Rachel Griffiths, who played the young director's girlfriend. Toni herself played an enthusiastic recovering drug addict. Again, she was tremendous, and also sang once more - performing Crowded House's "Don't Dream It's Over" over the credits. Now came the Hollywood debut proper, with a minor role in "The Pallbearer", reasonably amusing with Friends star David Schwimmer and Gwyneth Paltrow in the lead. Toni's next movie, though, was far classier. Teaming up with Paltrow again in Jane Austen's "Emma", she played the plain and unsophisticated Harriet Smith who's taken on as a project by Paltrow's compulsively matchmaking Emma Woodhouse.
In her breakthrough performance in "Muriel's Wedding". At the Golden Globe Awards in 1996 where Toni was nominated for her performance. With Gwyneth Paltrow in Jane Austen's "Emma". With David Wenham in the Australian thriller "The Boys".
1997 saw no fewer than four Collette appearances. In "Clockwatchers", she played a wallflower of a temp at a credit agency who falls in with bored workers as they try anything to relieve the tedium. Then she departed the US for the UK and home. In "The James Gang", she played obsessive cop Julia Armstrong, who's chasing down a family who've come to London looking for their father, then robbed a jewellery store and taken off for Edinburgh. With "Diana and Me", one of Collette's most controversial films also released in 1997. Toni played a woman who shares the name and birthday of Diana Spencer, Princess of Wales. Winning a competition, she travels to London with her dullard fiance, but ends up with the paparazzi as they chase Diana around the city. Unfortunately, what might have been a cheerful look at the media, delusional behaviour and the price of fame became an entirely different kettle when the real-life Spencer died, while engaging in a high-speed chase with photographers.
Toni moved on to "The Boys", a really gritty drama where a psycho is released from jail into Sydney's western suburbs, meets up with his equally rough brothers, the three having no real power but rocketing levels of testosterone. Toni played Michelle, the main man's brassy blonde girlfriend who argues with him furiously, raising passions as, drinking and drugging himself, he gets more and more crazy, till there can only be a brutal outcome. Achieving an intensity she had not before reached onscreen, Toni became the AFI's Best Supporting Actress yet again.
Claiming to International FameNow came intensity of a different kind. In Todd Haynes' "Velvet Goldmine", Toni was required to play Mandy Slade, ex-wife of a glam rock star who went missing in the Seventies and is now being tracked by journalist and former fan. Toni began 1999 in the art-house with Peter Greenaway's " 8½ Women". Here, after the death of his wife, a middle-aged fellow, along with his son, organises a harem of thoroughly varied women. Toni stood out as Griselda, a wannabe nun they save from prison but, despite the presence of Toni, the film was little more than a cold erotic fantasy. Toni appeared with her head shaved - a repeat performance for her. Toni's next movie was the surprise mega-hit of 1999. In M. Night Shyamalan's " The Sixth Sense" Toni played Lynn Sear, the desperate mother of Haley Joel Osment's Cole, working several jobs to keep him and worried sick by his belief that he can see dead people. As Osment works out a relationship with Bruce Willis's therapist, Toni provides the movie with an all-important mother's heart. Toni Collette's performance was praised by the critics and won her an Oscar nomination in 2000. On the heels of "The Sixth Sense", Toni was seen opposite Samuel L. Jackson in a remake of "Shaft" and making her broadway debut opposite Mandy Patinkin and Eartha Kitt. In " The Wild Party", she played the platinum-haired vaudeville dancer and raunchy hostess Queenie. Toni, who'd of course been a singer and dancer right from her earliest days in theatre, was superb, picking up both a Theatre World Award and a Tony nomination.
Opposite Hayley Joel Osment in the surprise hit "The Sixth Sense". At the 2000 Academy Awards where Toni was nominated as Best Supporting Actress. In her Broadway debut "The Wild Party", for which she received a Tony nomination. With Gotaro Tsunashima in "Japanese Story".
Recognized on the international screen and stage, Collette traveled to Ireland to shoot the offbeat " Hotel Splendide", in which she played a hotel cook. In late 2000, she was seen on American television in HBO's "Dinner with Friends". While performing a wild variety of women in smaller films, Hollywood offered her a thankless supporting role in Roger Michell's thriller "Changing Lanes", playing Ben Affleck's colleague. Toni jumped between three continents in 2002: She performed Sharon in David Caesar's Australian comedy " Dirty Deeds", and played a suicidal hippie mom in the acclaimed "About a Boy". The critics applauded Hugh Grant's performance as best in years, but he was certainly helped by Toni who, as ever, brought serious emotional depth to proceedings, preventing him from simply sounding flip. In late 2002, Toni was part of Stephen Daldry's all-star cast in his adaptation of Michael Cunningham's novel " The Hours", opposite Julianne Moore and co-starring Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman
With "Japanese Story", Toni Collette again won praises for her "career-best performance" as geologist Sandy Edwards, who's out in the Australian wilderness with a Japanese businessman in a tale of "human inconsequence in the face of the blistering universe". Since then, Collette has been cast in a variety of American comedies: She played a fucked-up actress in the largely panned " The Last Shot", opposite Alec Baldwin and Matthew Broderick. In the ever larger panned " Connie and Carla", Toni was seen with Nia Vardalos as an unsuccessful singing duo who, after witnessing a mafia hit, skip town for L.A., where they go way undercover as singers working the city's dinner theater circuit - as drag queens. In late 2005, Toni Collette played Cameron Diaz' sister in the adaptation of Jennifer Weiner's novel " In Her Shoes", also starring Shirley MacLaine. Her next big hit was in the making already. Although starting a a sleeping hit at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2006, "Little Miss Sunshine" became a crowd pleaser and eventually the highest sold independent feature by a film studio. "Sunshine" released cinemas half a year later and became a box office hit, earning rave reviews for its story and the fantastic ensemble, featuring Toni, Greg Kinnear, Steve Carrell, Alan Arkin, Paul Dano and Abigail Breslin. Toni, after having finished the Australian thriller "Like Minds", kept busy and traveled to Tailand shooting a mini-series for HBO about the Tsunami disaster that hit Thailand in 2005. And back in Australia again, she and her band "The Finish" would finally go on tour to perform one of Toni's dreams since her childhood - her own record. "Beautiful Awkward Pictures", a collection of spiritual and inspirational songs sung and written by Toni herself was well received by the Australian critics and gave her the chance to tour through Australia. By the end of 2006, Toni would fully benefit from her hectic schedule - she received two Golden Globe nominations as Best Supporting Actress and for "Tsunami: The Aftermath" and as Best Actress for "Little Miss Sunshine", the latter would later win two Academy Awards for its screenplay and Alan Arkin. In July 2007, she also received an Emmy Award nomination for her performance in "Tsunami".
Toni received a Golden Globe nomination for her performance in "Little Miss Sunhine". Performing songs from her debut album "Beautiful Awkward Pictures" at the Live Earth concert in 2007. With John Corbett in "United States of Tara". Winning the Emmy Award for her performance(s) in "Tara" in September 2009.
After finishing the touring for “Beautiful Awkward Pictures”, joining an array of world stars at the 2007 Live Earth concerts to issue the cause of global warmings, and the Summer release of “Evening”, a high profile ensemble drama co-starring Vanessa Redgrave and Meryl Streep, Toni Collette erased from the spotlight for two years after announcing her pregnancy. The already finished "The Black Balloon" released Australian theaters in 2008. Toni was awarded with her fifth AFI Award in the category of best supporting actress for her performance as a pregnant mom of two boys, one of which is autistic, under which his older brother suffers. For 2009, Toni had a post-pregnancy project under a belt - the television drama series “United States of Tara”, written by Diablo Cody and presented by no one else than Steven Spielberg. In it, Collette plays the lead role of Tara, a suburban housewife with dissociative identity disorder. Her condition results in taking over a variety of different personalities - a wild teenage girl, a perfect housewife and a rowdy truck driver, among many others who were developed through the series' three seasons. Toni won yet another AFI Award for this role. In September 2009, Toni won the Emmy Award as Best Actress in a Comedy Series and the following January she received her first Golden Globe Award in the same category. The show’s second season premiered in March 2010, for which Toni again received an Emmy nomination. "United States of Tara" was not renewed after its third season, so Toni was able to concentrate on her film career again, playing opposite Colin Farrell in the remake of the 1980's classic "Fright Night".
Toni Collette and Anthony Hopkins in Sasha Gervasi's "Hitchcock". Headlining the CBS thriller series "Hostages". With Pierce Brosnan in the Nick Hornby adaptation "A Long Way Down". Returning to Broadway after 13 years with Will Eno's "The Realistic Joneses".
After taking another two years off for motherhood, Toni Collette returned to the screens with a string of supporting roles in 2012, including the part of Alfred Hitchcock's assistant Peggy Robertson in " Hitchcock" - which reunited her with Anthony Hopkins after her film debut in Spotswood". She also co-starred opposite Steve Carell in "The Way, Way Back" and with Julia Louis-Dreyfus and James Gandolfini in "Enough Said. Toni also landed another leading role on television. In CBS' "Hostages", she played a surgeon who is thrust into a chilling political conspiracy when her family is taken hostage by a rogue FBI Agent, who orders her to assassinate the President when she operates on him. The series, which ran for 15 episodes, was met with lukewarm reviews and viewers interest, however. Another leading role, this time on film, followed with the 2014 screen adaptation of Nick Hornby's novel "A Long Way Down", in which seh played one of four suicidals, who accidentally met on the same rooftop to end their lives. In April 2014, Toni Collette returned to Broadway for Will Eno's "The Realistic Joneses", co-starring Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei. Among Toni's upcoming projects is the Melissa McCarthy comedy "Tammy" and the ensemble comedy " Hector and the Search for Happiness".
Toni Collette is married to musician Dave Galafassi since 2003. They have two children, a daughter (born 2008), and a son (born 2011).
This biography was exclusively written for Toni Collette Online and was last revised on April 05, 2014.