Antonia "Toni" Collette (born 1 November 1972) is an Australian actress and musician, known for her acting work on stage, television and film as well as a secondary career as the lead singer of the band Toni Collette & the Finish.
Collette's acting career began in the early 1990s with comedic roles in films such as Spotswood (1992) and Muriel's Wedding (1994), for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress.Following her performances in Emma (1996) and The Boys (1998), Collette achieved international recognition as a result of her Academy Award-nominated portrayal of Lynn Sear in The Sixth Sense (1999). She has appeared in thrillers such as Shaft (2000) and Changing Lanes (2002) and independent comedy films like About a Boy (2002), Connie and Carla (2004), In Her Shoes (2005) and Little Miss Sunshine (2006). She recently appeared in the film Hitchcock.
In 2009, she began playing the lead role in the television series United States of Tara, for which she won a Primetime Emmy Award and a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy in 2010.
Collette was born in Blacktown, a suburb in Western Sydney, the daughter of Judy, a customer-service representative, and Bob Collette, a truck driver. She has two younger brothers, Ben and Christopher. From an early age, Collette showed a talent for acting. She faked appendicitis when she was eleven years old and was so convincing that doctors removed her appendix, although tests showed nothing wrong with it. She attended Blacktown Girls High School until the age of 16, and then later attended both the Australian Theatre for Young People and NIDA. Her first acting role was onstage in the musical Godspell in Sydney in her early teens.
Collette made her television debut in 1990, in a guest appearance on the Seven Network drama series A Country Practice. Collette has won five Australian Film Institute awards, including the Australian Best Actress in a Lead Role for Muriel's Wedding in 1994, a role for which she gained 18 kg (40 lb) in seven weeks. In 1996, she was part of the ensemble cast of the comedy, Cosi.
She has also received broad acclaim on Broadway, starring as Queenie in Michael John LaChiusa's musical work, The Wild Party. For this role, Collette was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical.
Collette had to turn down the title role in Bridget Jones's Diary because she was committed to perform on Broadway at the time. In 1999, She received an Academy Award nomination for her role as the mother of a troubled boy in the U.S. film The Sixth Sense, which also starred Bruce Willis and Haley Joel Osment.
Collette's only film in 2005 was In Her Shoes, a comedy-drama about the relationship between two uncommon sisters and their estranged grandmother, co-starring Cameron Diaz and Shirley MacLaine. Based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Jennifer Weiner, the production received generally positive reviews from critics, and became a moderate independent success, earning a total of US$82.2 million worldwide. Collette was subsequently nominated for a Satellite Award for Best Actress for her performance of a successful-but-lonely lawyer with low self-esteem, which Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle noted the focus of the film: "As usual, Collette's face is a fine-tuned transmitter of her emotions, moment by moment, and she becomes the locus of audience feeling."
In 2006, Collette starred in Little Miss Sunshine, a comedy-drama-road movie about a family's trip to a children's beauty pageant. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2006, and its distribution rights were bought by Fox Searchlight Pictures for one of the biggest deals made in the history of the festival. Released in July 2006, the film received major critical acclaim, resulting into several accolades such as four Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, whilst Collette herself earned her second BAFTA and Golden Globe nominations for her portrayal of the family's worn-out matriarch. A box office success, Little Miss Sunshine went on to gross US$100.5 million worldwide and became one of the most successful independent films of the mid-2000s.
Also in 2006, Collette starred in supporting roles in the thriller films Like Minds, The Night Listener and The Dead Girl. Although the latter was released to positive response during its limited North American run, none of these films fared generally well at the box office, with Robin Williams-featuring The Night Listener emerging as the biggest-selling production at a global gross of US$10.5 million. In her first television engagement in five years, the HBO-BBC joint mini series Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006), Collette played an Australian government employee who tries to cope with the events following the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and the resulting tsunami in Thailand. Broadcast to controversial critics, her performance of an aid worker garnered Collette her firs Primetime Emmy nomination and third Golden Globe nomination.
In 2008, Collette accepted the leading role in the Showtime comedy drama series, United States of Tara. Created by Steven Spielberg and Juno screenwriter Diablo Cody, the show revolves around a wife and mother of two with dissociative identity disorder, coping with her seven alternate personalities. Originally planned for a twelve episode season, the series was picked up for another episode season to be broadcast in 2010. Collette won both the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series and the Best Actress in a TV Comedy for her performance on the show. She starred in the 2011 remake of Fright Night.