The Sydney Morning Herald (2004)
Toni takes on canon, and Bush
July, 2004Toni Collette is clear on the subject. Yes, one of the country's finest actresses is recording a CD. And helped by a two-month break from acting, she hopes to complete it sooner rather than later. But the album definitely won't include any of the songs from her latest movie. Speaking before the premiere of the comedy Connie and Carla in Sydney last night, Collette said her emerging recording career would be mercifully free of show tunes like Oklahoma, Memories and I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No. These standards are belted out by Collette and Nia Vardalos in a movie about two struggling singers on the run from gangsters who impersonate drag queens.
While she won't be drawn on the worst show tune, the star of Muriel's Wedding, The Sixth Sense, About a Boy and Japanese Story most liked singing Don't Rain on My Parade. "It's the most difficult," she said. "You really get to belt it out." The movie, shot in Canada as Vardalos's follow-up to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, had the actresses working closely with Vancouver's drag queen community. "A lot of those real drag queens are actually in the movie. So we did spend a lot of time with them. I hate to generalise but they are so funny and so quick-witted and so self-deprecating and so beautifully camp."
When she won an Australian Film Institute award for Japanese Story in November Collette called on the Prime Minister, John Howard, not to jeopardise the country's cultural future by supporting the free trade agreement with the United States. Still upset by the lack of support for Australian content, she believes Labor should block the agreement. "They're nervous about being seen as anti-American for not wanting it. But seeing as I think they're open to a free trade agreement, wouldn't it be more beneficial to have one that's in Australia's favour?" she says. "It's so pro-American. It really doesn't benefit Australia in any way - certainly not the cultural aspects of it or the arts. "I just hope Mark Latham has the balls to stand up and be the visionary we all want him to be and say no. But who knows - he's certainly pinned against the wall."
Collette said she had to feel optimistic about Latham. "Because I think I'll slit my wrists if Howard gets in again." Collette was just as outspoken in her support for Fahrenheit 9/11, the controversial Michael Moore documentary that savages US George President Bush. "Thank God we've got Michael Moore," she said. "The news that somehow gets manipulated and filtered through to us lay people in the world is just so insular and, in America, certainly misleading a lot of the time. "It's just so great to have someone with an opposing voice and with a true voice."