Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Many Faces of Toni

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

The Many Faces of Toni

Article excerpt

SHE SMOOCHED JULIANNE MOORE IN THE HOURS, supported her suicidal gay brother in Little Miss Sunshine, and pretended to be a drag queen in Connie and Carla. Now Toni Collette finds herself prowling "titty bars" as a suburban housewife with dissociative identity disorder (and a teenage gay son) in The United States of Tara, a Showtime original series created by Steven Spielberg with episodes written by Juno scribe Diablo Cody. But regardless of the role, the 36-year-old Oscar-nominated Aussie knows that gays will always adore her--and she knows that ABBA has a lot to do with it.

Q: In The United States of Tara, Tara suffers from a condition formerly known as multiple personality disorder. Do any of her personalities have lesbian tendencies? A: "T," the provocative 16-year-old girl, could probably go both ways. She's definitely the most overtly sexual of all of the alters.

Have you ever explored that side of your own personality? Um, I don't think this interview is about that. But thank you for asking, though!

Fair enough, but another one of Tara's alters, a male personality names "Buck," must've helped you get in touch with your butch side. Does anyone dismiss Buck as a big dyke? Most people around Tara understand what she's going through. All of her alters exist as extreme versions of feelings that are repressed within Tara, and Buck is considered the "angry protector." It's not that Tara's pretending to be a guy or dressing up as a guy. When she's Buck, Buck believes that he's Buck; therefore, people who know Tara treat him as a guy. He likes to go to titty bars and he flirts with girls. He's also homophobic, actually. Tara and her husband have a gay son, and Buck has a chip on his shoulder about that.

Tara writer Diablo Cody also knows her way around a titty bar. Did you hit the town with her? Diablo knows a lot of things. We hung out a little bit, but we were shooting a half hour [of final scenes] every five days, so there wasn't much time for socializing.

The subject of mental illness is a sensitive one. Because you're approaching dissociative identity disorder with a fairly light tone, are you concerned about offending that community? That was something I questioned before signing on to be a part of this show. It is a comedy, but it's also incredibly deep and moving. It questions the reality of DID and how it affects both Tara and her family. …

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