Most actors wouldn't dare flee Hollywood at their peak, but that's just what Australian actress Toni Collette did. The Sixth Sense Oscar nominee — who stars opposite Hugh Grant in the new romantic comedy About a Boy (opening Friday) — says a recent six-month sabbatical in Sydney just about saved her career.
"I started to resent working because I felt like it robbed me of any emotional life of my own," says Collette, who currently can be seen in the box office hit Changing Lanes. "Soon after [taking the break], I realized that if I didn't have acting as an outlet, if I didn't have that form of expression, I probably would have imploded."
After living a "normal life" — cooking, reading, writing and swimming — she's got a whole new attitude about work. "Having time off enhanced my love for what I do again. If it gets to the point of no enjoyment, I think it is healthy to stop. Life is bigger than whatever job you have."
The extended vacation was the first real break Collette had since she dropped out of school to begin acting at age 16. She got her breakout role in Muriel's Wedding when she was just 22. "The success of Muriel's Wedding was a bit of a shock," she says. "It took a while to recover from that."
As part of the invasion of actors and filmmakers from Down Under, Collette has little to say about why Australians are faring so well in Tinsletown. One thing she does know for sure: she's back in her homeland for good. "I tried living in London. I tried living in New York. I tried living in L.A. — even Ireland," she explains, "and I've come full circle to the place where I was born. And I love it. It is gorgeous."