‘Tara’ Star Toni Collette Counts Her Multiple Blessings
You would think the work offers would be pouring in for Toni Collette, who picked up an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her performance in Showtime's "United States of Tara."
"Even if there were offers flooding in, there would probably be maybe only one thing I'd love to do," she says. "It needs to be of a certain quality at this point."
Like "Tara," which returns for a second season Monday (10:30 p.m. ET/PT).
Collette, 37, frequently chooses quality over mass appeal: Her career is filled with quirky independent features that just happen to turn into hits, such as Muriel's Wedding and Little Miss Sunshine.
And then there's the occasional blockbuster, such as "The Sixth Sense," which earned Collette a supporting-actress Oscar nomination.
Collette says that before Tara, she was leery of committing to a television role lest she "get stuck there." But the suburban mom she plays isn't your typical desperate housewife. Tara, who has dissociative identity disorder, shares her body with a hard-drinking macho Vietnam veteran named Buck; a flirty teenager called T; a '50s happy homemaker, Alice; and the infantile Gimme.
"I knew I wouldn't get pigeonholed," Collette says. "That was a consideration: No one would typecast me."
The dark comedy's pedigree - its producers are Steven Spielberg and Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody (Juno) - didn't hurt either. Collette read the script and immediately her concerns disappeared. "I knew I had to do it," Collette says.
At home, Collette (mom to 2-year-old daughter, Sage) acknowledges that she's luckier than most working mothers, thanks to her husband's flexible career - Dave Galafassi is a drummer with whom Collette recorded her singing/songwriting debut album, 2006's "Beautiful Awkward Pictures."
"The fact that I can bring my child, my family to work saves me," the Australian actress says. Her family "travels as a unit" to movie/TV sets.
"If I couldn't, I don't think I'd be working, sadly, which would probably make me implode," she says. Relying on Galafassi is key: "It allows me to fly my kite."
Collette says that unlike some actresses closing in on 40, she doesn't have much angst about getting older in a business that isn't very kind to older women.
"My career has never been based on how I look, and I don't want it to be. I like my work, like my life, to be much deeper than that: That's something I've managed to escape. I think it's a dangerous pressure," she says. "I would rather play somebody complex and rich and real than some feckless handbag."
So where does Collette go from here?
She's eager to continue doing it all, from crowd-pleasing features such as "About a Boy" or serious-minded smaller pictures like Alan Ball's "Towelhead."
"I appreciate the variety," she says. On her actress to-do list is working with directors Martin Scorsese and Terrence Malick and Oscar-winning actors Daniel Day-Lewis and Kate Winslet.
"I really would like to work with people who can inspire me, which is greedy, I know," Collette says, laughing.
And while she says she knows her truck-driver father and customer-service-rep mother are still "scratching their heads" about her career choice, she has no regrets about the path she has taken.
"I've always followed my gut and luckily landed on my feet."