Chances are you probably know Toni Collette as an Australian Oscar-nominated actress, and not as a singer-songwriter. As it turns out, she has one album under her belt titled “Beautiful Awkward Pictures,” that she released in 2006 and recorded with her husband, musician Dave Galafassi. Her latest film, “Lucky Them,” sees Collette fuse her two passions to play Ellie Klug, a middle-aged music journalist assigned to track down the rumored-to-be-dead rock
legend who broke her heart years ago. The film opens in select theaters May 30 and is currently available to view on video-on-demand platforms. Collette sat down with Indiewire recently in New York to discuss her passion for music, and why she doesn’t consider herself to be a movie star.
What appealed to you most about playing Ellie?
I just love the story. I love her. She’s such a complicated woman with so many walls. It’s really a story about someone softening and allowing herself to be vulnerable again — being brave enough to look at all her shit and sort of wade through it until she comes out the other side. But it’s peppered with great humor. And it’s set in the most amazing music scene in Seattle… I guess I just responded to her. There’s a certain kind of toughness, there’s a lot of change that she goes through. That’s the thing. When I play someone, I look for someone who grows. It’s boring to watch someone who stays the same. She’s confronted by all of her worst fears and memories, and actually survives!
Did your passion for music factor into your decision to play her? You yourself sing and your husband is a musician.
Yes and I write music. I’d love a piano. We’re living in Williamsburg, so I really should get on it. It’s my time. I also have a lot of friends who are musicians. I can’t imagine a world without music. Yeah, I suppose that that’s a huge part of it.
Did director Megan Griffiths know about this aspect of your life before casting you?
I don’t remember actually. I remember getting the script and asking myself: “Why isn’t Charlize Theron playing this? Why is it landing on my lap? What’s wrong?” And you know, I guess it’s just because the film had such a tiny budget. But I remember Megan had this one female music journalist in mind as someone who Ellie might sort of be like, so I hung out with her and saw some bands and had some drinks. But, I think it’s just important to be there and open and trying to make it as real as possible and aligning yourself with what’s really going on.
You’re an Oscar nominee. Why don’t you see yourself as a movie star?
I just don’t. Charlize Theron might not see herself that way; maybe it’s just the way other people see you.
Unlike Charlize, you don’t do a lot of big budget films. What keeps you coming back to indies?
I guess in Australia every film is sort of an indie film because there are no studios. But, I think what it comes down to is story. Independent films have a certain freedom about them — there isn’t so much at stake in terms of money. I think they’re more interesting because they’re not watered down to appeal to the masses. They tend to have a unique voice.
And they usually have better roles for women. Have you struggled to find juicy parts over the past several years?
No. I mean I have to say I feel really lucky. I’ve had a lot of great characters to play. I suppose it’s a larger problem. It’s not a personal problem. It represents a real lack of insight into society and who we’re telling stories about and who we’re making stories for. I think the issue is a financial one. It’s the people making the decisions about what kinds of films are to be made…
Going back to Ellie. Aside from your
shared musical interests, you’re a good mother, happily married, etc. You seem
to really have your shit together, unlike her. How did you relate to her predicament?
Well that’s the great thing
about stories right? It doesn’t have to be you. As a viewer — or if your
reading as an actor who’s potentially playing that part — you don’t have
to be that person. And that’s what I’m into — it’s about transforming
yourself and identifying with what isn’t you, showing what their life is
like, what their perspective is and what their takes on things are.
That said, there’s probably a lot about Ellie that’s probably very
similar to me — me from years past perhaps.
I’m just going to leave it at that! [Laughs]
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