In Her Shoes

SOUND BITES
Which director would you like to work with that you haven’t before? “Terrence Malick. I enjoy his films as entertainment, but also because of their integrity.”

How do actors balance commerce vs. art? “As actors, I don’t think we’re the ones who really have to worry about the commercial side.”

Up next: “It’s not definite, but a film called ‘You Can’t Come In.’ I’m 99% sure it will happen, and it would start shooting in January.”

While it might not be all that difficult for an actress to portray a character that’s funny, jealous, giddy, stricken and scared at the same time, it’s exponentially more difficult when you’re opposite a scantily clad Cameron Diaz and a potent-as-ever Shirley MacLaine.

But Toni Collette says the challenge of playing the multifaceted Rose Feller of “In Her Shoes” was a “great joy and a huge gift. It was so creatively satisfying and probably the best job I’ve had.”

Playing the older, straight-laced sister to Diaz’ wild child, Collette, an Oscar nominee in 1999 for “The Sixth Sense,” was drawn to “In Her Shoes” by the gut reaction she had to the character, and because it was “just so emotionally honest and truthful and subtle in the way that it’s told.”

She savored the opportunity to play someone who not only undergoes an external transformation — she gained weight prior to shooting and lost it as Rose built up her confidence — but, more important, a character who makes internal changes, breaking out of that self-doubting, responsible-sister mold. It’s a film, she notes, that shows change can be difficult.

This isn’t to say Rose is all seriousness; she has a major sarcastic streak and pulls off more than one wish-you-said-it retort. Though critics have recognized Collette for her ability to create a very real person in Rose, the actress says this stems straight from the incredibly well-written script, with its characters that seemed familiar and real.

Director Curtis Hanson’s ability to make the project a shared experience, with “none of that hierarchy of actors you find in other films,” also greatly impressed her. Collette believes because Hanson empathized so greatly with the characters that he saved the film from sinking into sentimentality.

“It deals with family, which we all have. The characters are facing very human dilemmas of, who am I? What do I want out of life? And how do I become a better version of myself?

“It’s about embracing change and letting go of familiar yet destructive patterns,” she adds. “You don’t have to be a woman to relate to that.”

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more