It’s a Muriel’s Wedding reunion for Toni Collette and Rachel Griffiths
See that girl, watch that scene, and then watch it over and over again for 21 years.
That’s how often we’ve revisited Muriel’s Wedding, the 1994 Australian rom-com-dram which starred Toni Collette — then just an unknown Oz actress with one film credit to her name — as a social misfit named Muriel Heslop, who dreams of one day getting married to a soundtrack by her favorite band, ABBA. Muriel’s rescued from her dreamy, emotional solitude by a charismatic outsider named Rhonda (Rachel Griffiths, in her first film role) and together, they forge a platonic companionship that remains the reason why, more than two decades after its release, we’re still dreaming of the day we can rock out to “Waterloo” with Muriel and Rhonda.
The next best thing? EW’s reunion with Collette and Griffiths, who were eager to get together and relive their days in Porpose Spit. The women reunited for our annual Reunions Issue and spilled some fun secrets from their way to the Wedding. Which celebrities have confessed to be Muriel fans? How did the first-time movie director land the rights to ABBA? And why did the movie almost have a different ending?!
On how Collette won the role
Collette was one of the first actresses to read for Muriel on the very first day of casting, which threw off director P.J. Hogan’s plan to scour the country for his Muriel. “I thought it was going to be someone who had never acted before, and then Toni comes in on the first day and is amazing, but I kept her waiting for months!” Hogan says. “An agonizing three months,” as Collette puts it. “I got the call and just screamed my lungs out and then called Daniel Wyllie, who was the first person cast, and we’d done our first film together, and we both had to put on weight so we went to Chinatown and had a mini banquet. And that was the beginning of a very unhealthy diet.”
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On their very first meeting
“I’ll never forget the first day I met Toni,” Griffiths recalls, immediately telling the full story of finding Toni at a little café in Sydney after they’d both been cast, with Collette already at work on gaining the 40 pounds she would have to add for the role. “She was being fattened up like a Thanksgiving turkey and was drinking literally the largest milkshake, as advised by her nutrition doctor,” laughs Griffiths. “We were both unknown and nervous, and she probably did a better job of hiding it than me. But there was a sweet, tentative excitement — there was this moment of a significant stepping onto some kind of adventure together.”
On the girls’ friendship
Collete, Griffiths, and Hogan will all tell you the same thing about why Muriel and Rhonda’s relationship succeeded. “[Toni and Rachel’s] friendship was real,” says Hogan. “They just liked each other immediately. There was a moment where neither of them were too keen on their wardrobe, and I gave them permission to go terrorize the costume designer together. And after that, I remember very clearly: they operated as a unit.”
To continue reading more from the cast reunions of Muriel’s Wedding, as well as those of Misery, Felicity, Family Ties, Bring It On, and The Rocky Horror Show, pick up the new issue celebrating Entertainment Weekly’s 25th anniversary, on newsstands Friday, or buy it here.