‘The Power’: Toni Collette and John Leguizamo Talk Their New Series and Embracing Self-Love Later in Life
Toni Collette and John Leguizamo, seen here in a scene from 'The Power,' met for the first time while working on the show but quickly discovered a shared chemistry while playing a married couple. Photo: Courtesy of Prime Video
Australian actress Toni Collette is a powerhouse on the big and small screens, refusing to be pigeonholed in her career and turning in spectacular performances in films such as The Sixth Sense, Little Miss Sunshine and Knives Out, as well as her Emmy-winning turn as the eponymous lead in the Showtime series United States of Tara. The 50-year-old is grateful that she hasn’t had a dry spell in her career and, though she believes “I’ve come late to myself,” she’s currently all about embracing self-love.
“I think it’s about going inward, to really knowing myself, and then accepting myself, which inevitably leads to some kind of self-love, then just creates a lot of empathy for the world around you,” she said during a recent virtual interview for her new Prime Video series, The Power.
“I just think the older I get, I feel like my life is just beginning. I’ve got this line with [The Power co-star John Leguizamo] in this scene where we go camping, and I talk about really being myself for the first time. I could really relate to that. I think it can take a long time to truly know yourself.”
Leguizamo, 62, who plays her on-screen husband in The Power, joined in the conversation and echoed Collette’s sentiments.
“I feel like I came late to myself as well. And to be able to be yourself and tap into the best things of yourself. But like Toni said, you got to like yourself. When I was younger, I liked to do roles that were as different from me as possible. That’s what I always felt was a challenge. Now I like doing things that are closer to me because you can relate to them and do them more.”
The duo speaks confidently as they cherish the opportunities they’ve earned later in their respective careers. In The Power, which recently premiered on Prime Video, Collette plays the mayor of Seattle and wife of a loving husband, played by Leguizamo. When teenage girls around the world suddenly and mysteriously develop a special power that allows them to electrocute people at will, it unleashes chaos, terrifies men and empowers women.
There is a scene in the series when Collette’s on-screen daughter Jos (Auli’i Cravalho), who has “the power,” says that she isn’t afraid to walk home at night, asking, “Can you imagine growing up with that kind of freedom?”
It’s a powerful moment, and one that’s not lost on Collette.
“I find it so moving,” the actress explained. “It’s something every girl, every woman faces, still, to this day. And you know, to tackle important subjects like that and for girls to be able to see this dialogue and see girls becoming empowered. I just think it’s so important. I’m so happy my daughter gets to see a show like this.”
Leguizamo, who is a father of two — including one daughter — agreed.
“It was so moving. Because I say that as a dad, I said to my daughter, ‘You gotta be careful walking in the middle of the street, when you’re coming home late at night. Make sure you’re with friends, don’t come home too late because you’re afraid.’ Imagine if women didn’t have to think about it.”
The series very much touches on topics about women’s autonomy over their own bodies and, like the ongoing battle over abortion rights, calls to question who gets to make those choices.
“This show is about equality and inclusivity and just battles all the crazy stuff that’s going on,” said Collette. “[It’s] become increasingly more and more aligned with the reality we’re facing, sadly. But how great to work on something that’s so relevant and so important. I feel so lucky to be a part of it.”
Leguizamo, who started his career as a stand-up comedian in New York nightclubs in 1984, said that the writers for the show gave him some of the best scenes he’s ever acted in, allowing him to show a different side of himself onscreen. “I don’t know if it’s because I’m a man or Latino man or person of colour, I always get a lot of very aggressive roles, a lot of villains. But here I get a chance to be vulnerable, sensitive, nurturing.
“It’s a role that I’ve never really got so that was really fun and unusual for me to play. The emotional intelligence in the dialogue is so beautiful. It feels like they were listening into my marriage, like the talks or arguments we have, because it was verbatim in this. And so it’s easy to play with Toni.”
Leguizamo and Collette have some electric scenes — no pun intended — as the on-screen couple flip the power dynamics and gender roles, something that’s not often explored between couples onscreen. And it’s clear that, in real life, the pair share a mutual love and respect — which is reflected in their performances.
“Working with Toni has been one of the highlights of my life,” Leguizamo said. “I mean, she’s so funny, so present, so strong, and in the best kind of way. And generous. So we have fun improvising, yelling at each other.”
Colette joined in: “It doesn’t get any better. We didn’t know each other before this, and you can never determine what chemistry is going to be like. And it was so easy and so fun. We had great dialogue to work with and it just flowed very naturally. It was such a pleasure.”
The Power is streaming now on Prime Video.