WCW: Toni Collette


I have loved Australian actress Toni Collette ever since one of the most important of movies was released way back in 1994:

Muriel's Wedding Muriel's Wedding

That’s right, Muriel’s Wedding! As I followed her career, I was blown away by her acting talent in so many films, but most especially as a woman with multiple personalities in the TV series The United States of Tara. As Ms. Collette is playing a major role in the recently-released neo-noir, late-1930s set Nightmare Alley, it seemed like a great time to look at her historical roles.


The Efficiency Expert (1991)

Per IMDB, “An expert on productivity shows wacky workers in 1966 Australia how to run their moccasin factory.” Yes, I’m padding here!

1991 The Efficiency Expert

Look at that baby face!


Emma (1996)

Collette plays Harriet Smith, protégé of the titular Emma, in the Gwyneth Paltrow version of the Jane Austen novel. I get annoyed that they try to make her dumpy, but she does great things with the role.

EMMA 1996

Like being confused by riddles.

1996 Emma

Posing awkwardly for a portrait.

1996 Emma

Looking lovely in blue.


Velvet Goldmine (1998)

I think Trystan and Sarah will hurt me when they realize I’ve never seen this movie about 1970s glam rockers, but even I know that Sandy Powell’s costume designs are great. Collette plays one the musicians’ wives, and I have a feeling she’s a Big Character.

1998 Velvet Goldmine

Fabulous 1970s does 1930s.

1998 Velvet Goldmine

Oh god, so much animal print!

1998 Velvet Goldmine


1998 Velvet Goldmine

Boots! Fur!


The Hours (2002)

Three different generations of women are connected by a Virginia Woolf novel. Collette is in the 1950s section.

2002 The Hours

Opposite Julianne Moore.

Ann Roth - The Hours (2002)

That hair is SO 1950s!


Hitchcock (2010)

She plays real-life Peggy Robertson, script supervisor and personal assistant to film director Alfred Hitchcock, in this film about Hitchcock’s relationship with his wife during the filming of Psycho.

2010 Hitchcock

I LOVE how Serious Business she is here.

2010 Hitchcock

Cute collar! Great glasses!

2010 Hitchcock

Girl’s gotta work!


Jasper Jones (2017)

An “Australian murder mystery” set in the 1960s.

2017 Jasper Jones

Rocking the lime green.

2017 Jasper Jones



Nightmare Alley (2021)

A “neo-noir psychological thriller” set in the late 1930s/early 1940s and centered around a carnival. Collette plays a clairvoyant named Zeena, which sounds amazing.

2021 Nightmare Alley

I’m loving the gold and that shade of green — very art deco.

2021 Nightmare Alley

An off-stage look? With Veronica Lake hair!

2021 Nightmare Alley

That robe looks like printed velvet. It’s all very 1930s art deco-y to me.

Which is your favorite of Toni Collette’s historical roles?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

14 Responses

  1. Kat

    Toni was the Angie Bowie expy in Velvet Goldmine, and I want all of her costumes but especially the coats!

  2. hsc

    BTW, the other “baby face” in that shot from THE EFFICIENCY EXPERT is Ben Mendelsohn (DARKEST HOUR, THE KING, CYRANO).

  3. LydiaR

    I know it’s not a frock flick, but Muriel’s Wedding is one of the most important movies in my personal cinematic collage.

  4. SarahV

    The ABBA karaoke revenge scene in Muriel’s Wedding is one of the formative experiences of my life. Everyone should see it at least once, and everyone should have a friend like Brenda who encourages you to give no fucks and lip synch Waterloo if the mood strikes you.

    Peggy, Hitchcock’s secretary in Hitchcock had such a smashing professional wardrobe. It makes me long for smartly tailored women’s business wear with artful little flourishes.

    • SarahV

      I forgot my other comment about Hitchcock – Toi looks absolutely ravishing as a brunette! She should go ”dark’ more often. It really sets off her eyes.

  5. Saraquill

    Nightmare Alley. I either haven’t seen the other movies, or didn’t realize she was in them.

  6. Bev

    I’ve never seen Velvet Goldmine, and I feel it’s time to rectify this gap in my movie/fashion education.

  7. Lily Lotus Rose

    She is such an AMAZING actress!! Like several other people have commented, Muriel’s Wedding is a GEM!!! My fave of her FrockFlick roles is Harriet from Emma. I LOVED her costumes from the pics you showed from Hitchcock. I might actually watch that film now. Not a FrockFlick, but she’s in another movie that I love, A Long Way Down. As per usual, she’s amazing in it. Great WCW choice!

  8. Mitzy Carter

    Now I have to rewatch Velvet Goldmine, which my daughters have already made me watch one time too many!

  9. Claire McMillan

    Velvet goldmine is luscious, (though, I’m assuming, slightly sanitized,) version of “not” david/angie/iggy love story, and might be a great choice for Pride month. I recall at least one scene in his youth set before the 1969 cut off–so it may qualify! Its almost like a really long, trippy, music video.

  10. Karen K.

    I’ve loved Toni Collette since Muriel’s Wedding, she’s so good in EVERYTHING.

  11. Karen K.

    Hit reply button too quickly but my favorites of her period costume roles have to be Emma and Nightmare Alley — it’s a pretty good movie but the costumes are outstanding. And I’d forgotten she was in Hitchcock! Such great casting in that movie, James D’Arcy was perfect as Anthony Perkins.

  12. Catharine Emma Hershey

    You mention the baby face in The Efficiency Expert, but check out the baby face on Ben Mendelsohn! :D

    Muriel’s Wedding was my first real exposure to Australiana and Aussie cinema (as well as Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths). When my (coincidentally Aussie) husband and I got married in his hometown, all the music we used for the ceremony and reception were all songs we love or hold special meaning for us. Despite his dislike of Abba, I convinced him to include Waterloo because of that scene in Muriel’s Wedding.