Who Is Toni Collette?

As a child, actress Toni Collette played the lead role in a musical celebrating the Australian bicentennial. Colette's feature film career includes memorable roles in Muriel's Wedding, The Sixth Sense and Little Miss Sunshine. She also starred in the television series United States of Tara, for which she won an Emmy and a Golden Globe.

Early Life and Career

Collette was born Antonia Collette in Sydney, Australia, on November 1, 1972. Collette grew up as the eldest of three children in the suburbs of Sydney; her father was a truck driver and her mother worked as a customer service representative.

Not long after getting her first taste of performing in a high school production of Godspell, Collette was picked from among thousands of other prospective candidates to play the lead role in an Australian bicentennial musical. Encouraged by that early success, she left school at age 16 and began working with the Australian Theatre for Young People.

Collette attended Sydney's National Institute of Dramatic Art in the late 1980s, but she left after a year and a half upon landing a role in a Sydney stage production of Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya.

Films, TV and Theater

'Muriel's Wedding'

Collette made her feature film debut in the little-seen 1992 comedy The Efficiency Expert, starring Anthony Hopkins and featuring Russell Crowe. She was involved in a play called Summer of the Aliens in June 1993 when she auditioned for the role that would prove to be her breakthrough: the gawky, ABBA-worshiping heroine of P.J. Hogan's black comedy Muriel's Wedding (1994). Collette gained 42 pounds for the role and earned worldwide acclaim, including an Australian Film Institute award for Best Actress.

'Emma,' 'Lilian's Story,' 'The Boys'

A number of big-screen roles followed, most notably a supporting turn as the impressionable Harriet Smith in a 1996 film version of Jane Austen's novel Emma, starring Gwyneth Paltrow. Collette also appeared in Cosi (1996), Diana and Me (1997) and Velvet Goldmine (1998), and received Australian Film Institute awards for her supporting roles in Lilian's Story (1996) and The Boys (1998).

'The Sixth Sense'

In 1999, Collette co-starred with Bruce Willis in the blockbuster suspense film The Sixth Sense, as the concerned mother of a troubled young boy (played by Haley Joel Osment). For her understated performance and admirable American accent, Collette earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

'The Wild Party' on Broadway, 'Shaft'

Collette made her debut on Broadway in 2000, scoring a Tony nomination for her starring turn as a 1920s vaudeville performer in The Wild Party alongside veteran musical theater actor Mandy Patinkin and Eartha Kitt. She also appeared in Shaft, John Singleton's remake of the like-named 1971 private eye film, co-starring Samuel L. Jackson and Christian Bale.

'The Hours,' 'About a Boy,' 'Little Miss Sunshine'

Continuing to tackle a variety of comedies and dramas, Collette had a supporting role in the critically acclaimed film The Hours (2002) with Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep. She starred with Hugh Grant in About a Boy, based on the novel by Nick Hornby, that same year. In 2006, Collette shined in the family dramatic comedy Little Miss Sunshine with Steve Carell, Abigail Breslin and Greg Kinnear.

'United States of Tara'

On the small screen, Collette earned widespread praise for her work on the series United States of Tara, portraying a woman with Dissociative Identity Disorder. Because of her disorder, her character had several different distinct personalities, ranging in ages and gender. Created by Cody Diablo, the series received numerous award nominations during its three-year run, with Collette taking home an Emmy in 2009 and a Golden Globe in 2010.

'Fright Night,' 'Hitchcock'

Collette went on to appear in the comedic horror film Fright Night (2011) with Colin Farrell and played the assistant to the real-life master of suspense in Hitchcock (2012), starring Hopkins. She soon returned to lighter fare, reuniting with Carell for the 2013 comedy The Way, Way Back, and made a splash that year at the Toronto International Film Festival with Lucky Them.

'The Realistic Jonses,' 'The Boxtrolls'

Collette took on the lead role of the CBS thriller Hostages in 2013, though the show disappeared before the end of its first season. She then made a celebrated return to Broadway in 2014 with The Realistic Joneses, alongside Michael C. Hall, Tracy Letts and Marisa Tomei, and provided voice work that year for the stop-motion feature The Boxtrolls.

'Krampus,' 'Hereditary,' 'Knives Out'

Collette continued her prolific output with appearances in films like the tearjerker Miss You Already (2015), the horror-comedy Krampus (2015) and the action blockbuster XXX: Return of Xander Cage (2017). She returned to the small screen in 2018 with the BBC-Netflix series Wanderlust, and jumped back into horror fare with the well-received Hereditary (2018) and Velvet Buzzsaw (2019), before joining a more traditional murder-mystery story as part of the ensemble for Knives Out (2019).

Personal Life

In January 2003, Collette wed fellow Australian Dave Galafassi, a musician, in Sydney. The couple has two children, daughter Sage and son Arlo.


  • Name: Toni Collette
  • Birth Year: 1972
  • Birth date: November 1, 1972
  • Birth City: Sydney
  • Birth Country: Australia
  • Gender: Female
  • Best Known For: Toni Collette is an Emmy and Golden Globe Award-winning actress known for her roles in such films as 'The Sixth Sense,' 'Little Miss Sunshine' and 'Hereditary,' as well as her TV show 'United States of Tara.'
  • Industries
    • Television
    • Theater and Dance
    • Drama
    • Comedy
  • Astrological Sign: Scorpio
  • Schools
    • National Institute for Dramatic Art
    • Australian Theatre for Young People
  • Nacionalities
    • Australian

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  • Article Title: Toni Collette Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/actors/toni-collette
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: April 14, 2021
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014