National Nine News (2005)
Collette can't shake off Muriel Heslop
October 06, 2005
Just when Toni Collette thought she had broken free from Muriel Heslop and Porpoise Spit, the Australian actor has taken on a similar role.

While Collette's new big budget Hollywood film, In Her Shoes, is completely different to Muriel's Wedding, there are some similarities between the characters she plays. In Her Shoes sees Collette playing Rose, a self conscious, frumpy attorney at a top Philadelphian law firm who is unlucky in love. Collette gained around 15 kilograms for the role, compared to the 20 kilograms she put on for Muriel's Wedding. "When you get such a great character and the story is so brilliant and the idea of her being overweight is so pertinent to her journey, then it doesn't really become a burden," Collette told AAP in Sydney recently.

"It is just something you have to do. "The weight is a kind of representation of Rose's lack of self and overload of responsibility." In Her Shoes tells the story of sisters Rose (Collette) and Maggie (Diaz) who fall out over a guy and embark on a journey of self-discovery. Rose is the professional, responsible sister while Maggie is screwed up and irresponsible.

"Maggie is this kind of bright shining person who you learn is quite empty and scared of what she has or doesn't have inside," Collette said. "And Rose is the opposite. "Her internal world is quite rich and her external world is what is lacking." Diaz also had to change to get in character. "When we meet her, she is carrying all of her belongings in a garbage bag and sleeping on her sister's couch," Diaz explains.

"She has burned every bridge and she has no place else to go. "It is a pretty pathetic place to be." In Her Shoes is directed by Curtis Hanson, the man behind films such as 8 Mile and LA Confidential. It also stars Shirley MacLaine as Rose and Maggie's grandmother, Ella.

"The story itself is just so beautiful and easy to relate to," Collette said. "It is very human, it is about family, all of us come from a family. "None of us magically appeared here on the planet, except for me, beamed down here by aliens." Collette said she was particularly happy to work for such an accomplished director.

"He was always so clear about where each character was at each given moment," she said. "Curtis really makes you look at things from different angles and it is really exciting to have someone push you like that." In Her Shoes has been labelled a chick flick, but both Diaz and Collette are quick to dispute this description. "Even if you are a man, you can relate to these issues," said Diaz, who dates American singer Justin Timberlake.

"It is all relatable." Collette and Diaz are clearly good friends. In fact, if you didn't know them, they could easily be mistaken for sisters. They giggle like sisters, finish each other's sentences and hold hands. "I have a sister and she (Toni Collette) has two brothers," Diaz said.

"We understood those roles and those dynamics." Collette launched her international career on the back of 1994 hit Australian film Muriel's Wedding. She went on to star in films such as Connie and Carla, Japanese Story, The Hours, About A Boy, and garnered an Oscar nomination for best supporting actress in The Sixth Sense. Her upcoming film projects include The Last Shot with Matthew Broderick and Alec Baldwin, The Night Listener with Robin Williams, Little Miss Sunshine and Like Minds. But it is music that is likely to consume the actor's attention in the coming year.

Collette is well on the way to following in her husband musician David Galafassi's footsteps after recently completing her first album with band Toni Collette and the Finish. "The record is made and I have a really fantastic band now," she said, adding the album would be released next year. "It is alternative, rock, pop ... there are some ballads in there. "It is melodic and kind of spacious."

Diaz said she was a big fan of Collette's music. "It is the kind of music you put in your car and drive real fast and really loud and make it like the soundtrack to your life or put it in your house and just like move around or completely have a mellow evening. "I love it."

In her Shoes opens nationally on October 13.