Dream Horse’s Toni Collette shares why horses make such great actors

Cameron Diaz, Steve Carrell, Nia Vardalos, the demon King Paimon—throughout her career, Toni Collette has proven she’s capable of great on-screen chemistry with just about anyone. And, wouldn’t you know it, in her new film Dream Horse she’s got great chemistry with a horse! In this classic feel-good underdog story directed by Euros Lyn, Collette stars as Jan Vokes, a small-town Welsh woman who rallies her neighbors to raise funds to breed and train a race horse of their own, named Dream Alliance. Over the course of filming, Dream was played by a number of different equine actors, but Collette’s primary scene partner was a horse named Beau, who she developed quite a connection with. Here’s what Collette told The A.V. Club about her work with Beau:

This horse was incredible. It was really quite a profound connection because he just was able to listen, he was present. And it wasn’t just in my mind; the entire crew was like, “Whoa, this is amazing,” because we were really, really communicating and connecting. So I feel really grateful that I had an experience like this—I’ve never worked with a horse in this way. I mean, I love horses, I’ve had some experience with horses, but it was quite emotionally intimate. My character has such love for this horse, and he becomes such a symbol of hope not only for her, but for the entire community and ultimately the country. So it was it was pretty special, I’ve got to say.

But beyond the horses, Dream Horse is the story of a community, particularly a small valley town in South Wales that had fallen on hard times. Unsurprisingly, Toni Collette hits it off with them as well, fitting right in alongside the local talent who make up Dream Alliance’s racing syndicate. Though she was nervous about nailing the Welsh accent, she says the community welcomed her with opens arms and made her feel at home the minute they started singing—something the Welsh apparently do all the time (“It sounds like a big generalization, but they do,” Collette admits). In the video above, Collette speaks more about the warmth of the Welsh, why it’s so easy to fall for horses, and what makes Dream Horse a particularly inspiring story right now.

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