News Column

Collette recalls time in Philly

August 12, 2013

YellowBrix

Aug. 12--BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- Toni Collette hasn't forgotten Philadelphia.

"I love Philly, man. That's a great town. The food is incredible in Philadelphia. It's such a beautiful, relaxed city. I could easily live there, actually," the Australian actress said in an interview during a CBS party.

Right now, she almost could.

Collette, who spent several months filming in the city for M. Night Shyamalan's "The Sixth Sense" and returned later to star in the movie adaptation of Jennifer Weiner's "In Her Shoes," is working in New York -- just an Amtrak ride away -- filming the CBS thriller "Hostages."

In the show, premiering Sept. 23, she plays a surgeon whose family is taken hostage by a rogue FBI agent (Dylan McDermott) on the night before she's supposed to operate on the president of the United States. She's told they'll die if the president doesn't.

It's a stark departure from Showtime's "United States of Tara," in which Collette played a woman with multiple personalities. But then, what wouldn't be?

After "Tara" ended, "initially, I wasn't really looking at TV. I've done quite a few films since then [including this summer's 'The Way, Way Back'] and then when I did start to sniff around a bit of TV, there wasn't anything really that was" interesting to her.

" 'Tara' was so incredible for me, and I wanted to make sure that I found something . . . equally exciting to me. And I finally found it with this."

She's playing only one character in the first 15-episode season of "Hostages," but she's pretty sure the audience won't see her the same way at the season's end.

"There's a lot of change that comes out of this extreme scenario," Collette said.

Hagman gone, but not

If you ever wondered how TNT's rebooted "Dallas" could go on without Larry Hagman to play J.R. Ewing, you weren't alone.

"I wondered," Patrick Duffy, who'd long played Hagman's brother, said at a TNT party during the Television Critics Association's summer meetings, which wrapped up last week.

"When Larry died -- and it's only because he is and was and still is my closest friend -- when he actually died, the day he died, I never worried about the fact that I lost my friend; my first thought was, 'What does that mean to the show?' Because that would have been Larry's first thought if it were me dying," Duffy said of his initial reaction to Hagman's death last November at 81 from complications of leukemia. (The actor had filmed six of the 18 episodes of Season 2, and J.R.'s death -- he was shot again -- and funeral became major plot points.)

"And I mean that in the most loving way. As best friends, we don't worry about life or death or do I see him tomorrow, or don't I see him tomorrow," said Duffy, a Buddhist for 40 years.

"I don't look at life and death as being a beginning and an ending of things, you know. It is a continuum. It's like sleeping and waking and sleeping and waking and that kind of thing. So like I've been in LA here for three days. And my wife's at the ranch in Oregon. I don't mourn her because I haven't seen her for three days. I don't mourn Larry because I haven't seen him for a year, or a half a year," Duffy said.

"Going to work is different" without him. "But it's only moderately different. Because I still feel his presence, the same way I feel my wife's presence right now."

"Dallas," renewed by TNT for a third season, is expected back in early 2014.

Recalling Gandolfini

On- and offscreen, Lorraine Bracco is one happy mama.

On TNT, she's Angela Rizzoli, mother to Angie Harmon's title character in "Rizzoli & Isles," and in real life, she's a mother to Margaux, whose graduation from the University of Pennsylvania a few years ago was "a very proud moment, because I never went to college," and to Stella, who's "studying to be a clinical psychiatrist, which makes me laugh."

Oh, and she's going to become a grandmother in December, and "I feel like a jerk, I'm so excited," she told reporters at a TNT party.

Bracco, of course, is still best known for playing Tony Soprano's shrink, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, in "The Sopranos," but "Rizzoli & Isles" seems to suit her mood right now. "It's so funny, with Jimmy's death, I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that work is fun," she said.

"I still don't believe it. It's as simple as that," she said of "Sopranos" star James Gandolfini's death in June, at age 51.

In her scenes with Gandolfini, she said, he was playful only "when he was done with his [part of the] scene," she said.

"When they turned around to me, he was like a jerk," she added, laughing. "I swear to you. He was so silly. He would do everything to break me [out of] character."

Email: graye@phillynews.com

Phone: 215-854-5950

On Twitter: @elgray

Blog: ph.ly/EllenGray

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