Toni Collette for “The Last Shot”

Toni Collette laughs when asked if she has a strong reaction to her latest character, a blonde, big-boobed, self-absorbed movie star in the Hollywood satire The Last Shot, in which she stars opposite Matthew Broderick and Alec Baldwin. “I see them everywhere, and I wanted to make it as much fun as possible,” says the good-humoured Collette in a Los Angeles hotel room. Collette denies that her latest screen character is based on any “one specific person”, but rather “a general idea of the egocentric notion of celebrity.”

In a diverse career spanning over a decade, Collette is philosophical as to whether a film such as The Last Shot remains an accurate reflection of Hollywood based on her own experiences. “I’ve been really lucky. I haven’t had the dodgy career that I know is out there looming, but I think it’s an industry that’s very fickle But for this film, I was gleefully coming to work every day, being able to make fun of that type of person, like she’s the perfect package, a uniform of the blonde, and the tan and the big tits and the perfect smile and all that stuff, while underneath she’s just a nightmare, and a total mess. She’s just come out of rehab, totally manipulative, narcissistic, self-absorbed, can’t see beyond her own breasts and just kind of manipulates people because she’s highly ambitious and wants to get her own way in everything.”

One’s impression of Collette is that no matter what the role, she has no qualms about physically preparing for a role and keeping fit at the same time. Looking in great shape, Collette says that she has learned to exercise more. “It doesn’t feel like punishment, but feels like it’s good for me, and I actually enjoy it. So I’ve kind of made it more of a part of my everyday life and I eat really well. I work out, do cardio, like 45 minutes a day, I have a trainer and I’ve always wanted a bike, one with a back. I don’t know about that hard core stuff, but it’s the equivalent of V cram yoga where it’s so intense they just force you into feeling like you’re doing something that’s good for you because you’re sweating.”

Collette says that it’s easy for her to gain and lose weight, depending on her role, “which is really weird,” and as for gaining weight, as she did for her latest film In Her Shoes, “I eat everything, like a lot of fatty, cheesy, creamy stuff, and I was having shakes every day, even though I don’t even eat dairy regularly. I was having lots of pizza, lots of pasta, lots of cheese and lots of wine,” she says laughingly. During filming of In Her Shoes, Collette gained “about 24 pounds and then I had to lose it during the shoot, so initially I had about 14 days off where, I did a lot of Pilates as well, on and off, and yoga.”

The perennially busy actress, who still calls Sydney’s Bondi home, has had to learn how to balance a busy career with her relatively recent marriage to musician Dave Galafassi. “I’m very good with time management now because I realised that the down time is important,” says Collette. “I guess in my 20’s I was just roaming around the planet, working back-to-back on films and I didn’t have anyone to answer to, or didn’t have any responsibility to anyone else, but when you’re in a relationship, you know, there’s two of you. I also just needed to slow down, so it’s just been really great to be able to say ‘no’. I’ve kind of realised that work isn’t going to go away and I’m allowed to say no to jobs and take some time off and have a real life.”

Yet she still plans to record an album with her husband, but is keeping tight-lipped on what exactly we will expect from her, musically. “Well, we’re kind of just starting to record at the moment, so I don’t even want to say what kind of album it is. I want to leave it open to be able to evolve with some kind of organic natural quality. This is my thing, no-one else is pointing the finger, no-one else is in control, no-one is giving me any money to do anything, so we’re just doing it because we need to do it, and it’s fun.”

Collette also admits that she has finally learned to take herself less seriously these days. “I realise that I didn’t laugh for a very long time, not only on screen. and it does feel like it’s all coming back.”