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Of rivalry and metamorphosis

Three talented actors on the film "In Her Shoes," the female-focussed drama that has won critical acclaim.

DRAMA: Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette in In Her Shoes.

A drama about sibling rivalry and bonding, "In Her Shoes" has Toni Collette as the frumpy, older sister Rose Feller, Cameron Diaz (Maggie) as the attractive younger one and Shirley MacLaine as their estranged grandmother Ella Hirsch. Based on a novel, the film is directed by Curtis Hanson.

MacLaine, Diaz and Collette talk about their involvement in the venture. Excerpts:

Shirley MacLaine on the realism of the script

Well, I realised it was a comedy/drama, and I was thrilled that Cameron was playing Maggie Feller. And Toni, who's just a superb actress was playing the alter-ego sister, Rose. And what had happened in the family was very intriguing to me, and authentic. So that when I read a script, because I've read so many of them, it all dependson whether it rings true or not, and this rang true.

On the challenges of the role

When you're my age, and you've played so many parts, you have to be very careful not to get into tricks and things that you know have worked for you previously. I've never played a part like this. That can be a little threatening and terrifying, because it's so quiet. Because it's authentically subtle.

On her character

She doesn't really like to confront her own feelings, or her sense of being shut out, or her years of wondering what would it have been like if she had known her grandchildren. Her husband died some years ago.

She's on her own, helping other people, but not really tending to herself. So she has a kind of glossed over façade. I haven't done one like that since "The Apartment."

On Director Curtis Hanson

He is completely focussed. He only lives for what's happening that day. I've often wondered what he's like after midnight, but he's probably somewhere cutting, or ... something to do with the film. He is so detailed, probably one of the most detailed directors I've ever worked with.

Cameron Diaz on her character's (Maggie Feller) desperate behaviour

She is a fearful person when we first meet her. She is desperate, she is terrified, and everything that she does is because of that, and as we watch her we see that she grows into somebody that is more confident and understanding of herself and understanding of what her actions mean to the rest of the world.

On Director Curtis Hanson

Curtis Hanson, he is a dream

in everyway. First, he's such a beautiful person, he's so kind and thoughtful, and courteous, and completely, focused and direct, and as a director he knows everything that he wants, but he is such a great collaborator as well. He's very open and he listens, and he's very thoughtful about what you say.

On the metaphors in the movie title

Maggie always wants to be in Rose's shoes and [vice versa] ... people always want to know what it's like to walk in other people shoes. Rose has it so easy, she has the apartment, the car and the job... all things that are totally unattainable for Maggie, because Maggie doesn't have the skill to do it yet. Or the confidence.

On her character adopting new behaviour

She's at a point in her life where she's realises all those things are running dry... she's going to have to adopt a different way of living and relating to the world, and to the people who love her...

On her character being selfish

She is just a selfish little brat and you actually get to watch her grow up and change... all the things she does, she does out of fear.

Toni Collette on her character's shoe collection

Not only is Rose a workaholic, she's a shoe-aholic... [she has] the most extensive shoe collection. And, I guess for her, being overweight, she can't treat herself with food... [or] clothes. And they become a kind of metaphor for her I guess.

She's got them in her cupboard, some are still in their boxes, and she's kind of just got them on display a bit behind closed doors, and it's like these beautiful items that are untouched and yet may be worn out one day. And it's kind of like her.

On Maggie pushing Rose to her limits

I guess Rose is at the end of her tether in terms of Maggie's behaviour. Both of them really don't have any friends. They really only have each other. And I guess when this collapse happens within their relationship, they have to look at who they are and who they would like to be, and put some effort into it. And in doing so, they learn a lot about themselves and each other and grow a little happier.

On Curtis Hanson

Curtis is the best director I've ever worked with, and he's a lovely person. He sees everything so clearly. He's so perceptive...

I don't think I've ever felt more trusted or trusted a director more.

On the movie

It's about people re-evaluating their lives and realising what's important. [And] for a lot of people, that comes down to family and relationships in the community in which you live and how you connect with the people who are important to you.

It's just so real, and so funny and so normal and so moving, it's everything. And that's what life is like, so, I think that's what makes it special.

(Courtsey: Warner Bros)

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