Welcome to Toni Collette Online, your unofficial web resource on the Australian actress and singer, best known for her film performances in "Muriel's Wedding", "The Sixth Sense" and "Little Miss Sunshine", as well as her Emmy and Golden Globe winning roles in "United States of Tara". For the past 11 years, Toni Collette Online has covered all latest news with detailed information and articles - and features extensive archives with over 50.000 images and videos.  Enjoy your stay.

The Globe and Mail (2010)
In Tara, more versions of a lovable actress than ever
March 18, 2010 | Written by R.M. Vaughan
When you bother celebrities for a living, you learn a lot about your friendsí unbalanced relationships with the celebrated. For instance, people are never indifferent to famous actors or directors - they ďhate!Ē So-and-So, or they ďlove!Ē same, and throw up their hands like Italian politicians. People, you canít reasonably love or hate someone you have never met. Itís not healthy. Toni Collette prompts exactly this sort of exaggerated response. Everyone ďloves!Ē Toni. When you mention her name, a cooing sound, the kind one hears in pet stores stocked with fluffy puppies, breaks out in all directions. Much of this fondness is rooted in Colletteís breakthrough performance in Murielís Wedding, an ugly-duckling story that had tween girls, grandmothers and acid-tongued queens alike falling at her feet. From there, Collette transformed herself into a haunted single mother for The Sixth Sense, went highbrow to highbrow with Meryl Streep in The Hours and struck comic gold opposite Steve Carell and Alan Arkin in Little Miss Sunshine.

As Collette explained in a recent phone interview, her latest role, or roles, is even more diverse than her long resumť. Playing Tara Gregor, the title character in United States of Tara, Collette gives us a character suffering from dissociative identity disorder (DID), formerly known as multiple personality disorder and a mental illness that has rarely been treated believably, or with dignity, by Hollywood. Itís a tribute to Colletteís talent that her portrayal of Tara, and Taraís many personalities (known as alter egos or alters), is both funny and respectful, and never cheap. One more reason to love Collette.

Tara has to be an actorís dream role.

It is for me. I imagine it would be so for any actor. I canít believe my luck. I mean, not only is it a great story, and I get to play a great character - several characters - but I think with any role that I take on I look for ways to reveal things about the character, and this is like taking that to the extreme. There are whole other individuals to help tell this one story.

How do you keep the situation from becoming too much about acting, becoming too actor-y?

AhÖ I think because Iím working with such great material, and weíre all very conscious of keeping the story very much rooted in reality. I tend to try to not be too actor-y, but I know what you mean. When you see people acting, youíre not involved in the story, and the story is the most important thing.

Would it be possible to overplay a character with DID?

Ha! I would say so, yes. I think thatís a very real possibility. Ha!

Then, are the tricky parts the transitions between Taraís alters?

Well, I realized, and this is possibly why you asked that previous question, that the transitions are always different, and the alters are always different, but theyíre not over the top, you know? But there is a lot of variation, so I was kind of worried about making the transitions real, because they happen so frequently in the show, and I was very conscious of trying to change them up and give them variations, in the way the audience observes them.

There is still a lot of dispute over the validity of DID as a diagnosis. How much research did you do into the disease?

Itís in dispute? Oh, no, this is a very real illness. I wasnít aware of that controversy. I think itís something thatís taken very seriously. Although itís very rare, itís very real, and there are people who are living with it, and itís a really hard thing to have to live with.

And I think because it comes from such a horrible place, and it is so real, thatís why weíve been so vigilant in making sure we represent it in a very honest way. The showís actually won an award for representing DID in such a true way, and I know there was quite a bit of trepidation before the show aired, because, you know, of the topic and all its seriousness, and yet the showís a comedy. It could have been a disaster, and perhaps on another network it might have been. But the trepidation has faded and itís actually been very positive for the DID community.

The beautiful thing about the show is the messy reality of the family. They completely support and accept each other. And thatís why I think the show goes beyond mental illness - itís about a family, not just a ďcrazy lady.Ē The family is really complex, and Taraís kids have known nothing other than this, so they handle it in a unique way, because itís all theyíve known. This show has depth and complexity, itís not some big, broad-stroke comedy.

I hear this over and over, and your show is further proof: All the good parts for women over 25 are on cable television.

Hmm. Well, there are quite a few great roles for women on TV, Iíd have to say, but there are some great roles for women in film. I would hate to kind of jump on that bandwagon, because I feel like Iíve had great variation in my career, and Iíve predominantly worked in films. I donít really feel like I have anything to moan about.

But I have to say, when this came along, I wasnít looking to work in television. But there was no way I was ever gonna say no. I just absolutely loved the material. Itís really exciting to have something I can sink my teeth into Ö so, I must have been craving that.