In between the reality-defying turns movies often take, such as a zombie heist in Army of the Dead or the bold style and color of upcoming musical In The Heights, it can be refreshing to sit back and watch a more grounded storyline that follows something real and impactful rooted in an actual story. One of this weekend’s offerings is Dream Horse, which stars Toni Collette as Jan Vokes, a Welsh woman who decides to breed her own race horse, Dream Alliance.
For the film, Toni Collette was tasked with portraying a real person, and not one many would know going into the impactful storyline. The Australian actress completely changed her look, learning the Welsh accent and channeling Jan Vokes’ sweet small-town sensibilities. CinemaBlend spoke to Collette about how she looks at projects based on reality differently, and she explained why it was "truly inspirational" to be a part of the film:
There’s a heightened sense of responsibility, because you’re telling someone’s life story and Jan Vokes is a very normal woman, living a very simple, humble life and has this extraordinary experience. I’d never heard of her and I just feel so proud to have played someone like her because it’s truly inspirational. She feels kind of stuck and dissatisfied in her life and instead of giving up, she has this kind of crazy dream that not only changes her life through determination and hard work, passion and love, but it changes her entire community of people. It was just such a massive [moment] and it goes on to affect the entire country, because this horse becomes so successful that he becomes a symbol of hope for all of them. It’s beautiful.
Jan Vokes is a working class store clerk and bartender living in South Wales who, with little experience, breeds racehorse Dream Alliance. The horse becomes a star in the racing community, going into the Grand Nationals (as you’ll see in the movie), and a syndicate of locals from Vokes' town join in to cheer him on.
As Toni Collette discussed during our interview, she had not heard of Jan Vokes before being approached for the project, but she felt attached to the story itself, which has the Welsh woman deciding to expect more out of her mundane life. Her true story goes to show that with enough gumption, one’s dreams can certainly come true. And because of Vokes undertaking, it also went on to affect so many more people other than herself.
During the recent chat, Toni Collette also told us about the “profound” bond she formed with one horse on set. She said there was a horse on set named Bo who she would do all her acting with, and she felt like he truly understood her words when she spoke to him. And apparently, the horse once even moved the other actors out of the way to be close to Collette during a promotional shoot.
Dream Horse follows a string of more strong roles from Toni Collette, such as the horror epic Hereditary, Rian Johnson’s whodunnit Knives Out and Netflix’s recent space movie Stowaway. Colette’s role here offers the actress a completely different atmosphere, and one can understand why she truly found it to be an inspirational story to be part of. Dream Horse is now playing in theaters, alongside a ton of exciting 2021 movie releases.