Toni Collette says she feels somewhat disheartened by the male-dominated world of filmmaking and is pleased about the group of women driving her new feature Lucky Them.
Screening at the Toronto International Film Festival, the movie – about a journalist trying to track down a former musician-boyfriend in order to pen an article on him – boasts a female screenwriter (Emily Wachtel), director (Megan Griffiths) and executive producer (Joanne Woodward).
"I don't want to be sexist commenting on it, but you know I have to say I'm getting to a point where I am frustrated by the male dominance in this industry, so [this team] was a good thing, and is a good thing, and there should be more women doing it," Collette said in an interview.
"I think we're all pretty proud to have worked on something so female-oriented – not that it's just for women, this movie. … All the right people came together."
Lucky Them features Collette as troubled Seattle music critic Ellie Klug, who is under pressure from her boss (Oliver Platt) to land a big story. In her quest to find her former flame, she's joined by Charlie, an eccentric aspiring documentary maker (played with aplomb by Thomas Haden Church).
Collette says she was immediately intrigued by the Sideways actor.
"When I first met him, I was like, what is wrong with him, because he talks like he's a bellower," said Collette, her voice getting louder and dropping an octave. "But it's just him. He's an odd creation. And I've never met anyone like him."
She added: "He's an exceptional actor, but he's [also] a very interesting human being … just so funny. Just so funny. There were so many takes I had to just stop because I was [laughing so hard]."
Lucky Them received a rollicking reaction during its recent world premiere at the festival – particularly after an onscreen joke about Canuck rocker Bryan Adams. The film also elicited gasps because of a cameo from a major Hollywood star who was not listed in the press notes for the film.
The script for Lucky Them is loosely based on Wachtel's life and received an early boost from screen legend Paul Newman, whose daughter is a close childhood friend of the screenwriter.
"He was really, really important to me," Wachtel said of Newman.
When the Butch Cassidy star died in 2008, his wife Joanne Woodward took over the project. Helming duties went to Griffiths (Eden), who impressed Collette.
"I feel excited to have found a director who's so young and so confident and who happens to be female. I just want to keep working with her," said the Aussie star, who also appears in Enough Said which is screening at the festival. "It's so easy."
Lucky Them was seeking distribution at the festival and it's not yet clear when it will open in Canada.
The Toronto International Film Festival runs through Sunday.