Movie Profile – Toni Lee

The actress from the new Karen Carpenter show talks about her favourite movies…

Q: How often to you get to sit down and watch a movie?

Not often enough? I am so busy being a single mum, singing at most weekends, running around all week, trying to keep my regular gym classes to keep fit for my job, by time I sit down I fall asleep!! I try and go to the cinema now and then for a change, I darent fall asleep in there eh? Maybe once a month, I wish I had more time to see a movie tho?

Q: Tell us about the last movie you saw? (either in cinema, video, DVD or TV)

The very last one I saw recent was a Tv film on sky called ‘The Holiday’ with Jude Law, Cameraon Diaz & Kate Winslet. I taped it on sky Plus, ( my saviour), and have only just watched it, it was on ages ago.

Q: What is your favourite Irish movie and why?

OOOO now you are asking? It wasnt actually Irish but the actors played Irish men, and it was filmed in Ireland a lot. 
P.S. I LOVE YOU ….. The actor in it was lovely, the Irish accent I love ( when I can understand it? ha ha ), and he was proper gorgeous in it!! Plus he was a musician , my ideal man!! It was a lovely story, little sad, but nice happy ending, a true romantic chick flick. The shots in Ireland were wonderful too, I decided then I sooo wanna visit your lovely country.

Q: What is your favourite movie of all time?

It has got to be ‘Pretty Woman’ with Richard Gere. Every girls dream come true to meet a rich handsome man ( well not quite the same way Julia Roberts meets him tho? ) who spoils her rotten. whisked away in a jet to the opera, oh I’d love that.

Q: What movie could you never sit through again? (How come?)

Beaches… it made me so sad….. It was too close to home at the time it came out. This is rather sad but my best friend Clare who I grew up with had cancer, and died at the age of 21. I went thru it all with her right to almost the end. There was a scene of the 2 woman as little girls doin a photo in a booth together just like Clare & I, I still have the pic. OMG I was in floods of tears. Also the characters were like us too, she was the wild one tho? LOL I have never been able to watch it again?

Q: Have you ever cried during a movie? Which one?

Yes as I say it was ‘Beaches’ definately.

Q: The One Movie You Haven’t Seen But Really Want To…. (How come?)

I need to see the Harry Potter film, the one before the very last one. As before I see the latest one I need to see the one before that, and I havent had a chance yet? The last one is out in the cinema now, I cant see it until I see the one before can I? OO what a state to be in eh?

Q: Your Guilty Pleasure (Is there a movie you like that everyone else hates?)

Yeh Abba The Movie!!! It appears most people gringe at it, coz its so tacky LOL, but I was and still a huge ~Abba fan. I saw it as a young girl I loved the group so much, I cried when it finished, I never wanted it to end. 🙁 Now I can watch it whenever I like coz I have the DVD !!

Q: The First Movie You Ever Saw In A Cinema?

Well I do believe it was ABBA The Movie….. its a close bet as I also saw Grease & Jaws, and I remember as I was allowed to see all these movies, they all came out same time, but I am pretty sure it was the original ABBA film.


Q: What Movie Do You Wish They’d Make A Sequel To? 
(Or The TV Show You Wish They’d turn into a Movie?)

Oh I love the old lady character on Catherine Tate show!!! I would love to sit through a movie with her in it all thru? Maybe her going on holiday abroad, how funny would that be? She would moan about everything, I think it would be a real hit.


Q: Favourite movie snack?

It has to be good ol sweet popcorn!!! I can easily sit thru a large bucket all to myself, once you start munching you just can’t stop……I get so self concious that people can see me constantly stuffing handfuls in my mouth.

Q: Favourite TV programme?

I am a huge ‘Eastenders’ fan, I have my sky plus on series link so I never miss any? It kinda makes you switch off from your own problems as they have a much worse time there.

Q: Who would play you in the movie adaptation of your life?

Renee Zelweeger… her Bridget Jones character just so much reminded me of me. Even the fact that she is obsessed with her weight fluctuations, her search for Mr Right, yet always attracted to Mr Wrong…. story of my life :/ She could play my character so well, .

Q: When you first appeared as Karen Carpenter on ‘Stars In Their Eyes’ did you have any idea it would lead on to something so big?

Having been a solo singer for quite a few years any stepping stone is a major opportunity, my time on there seems so far away now, but it has helped push me forward and given me more recognition for my Karen Carpenter act for sure, its a good acheivement and hopefully has given me that good shove forward.

Q: When did you first discover your ability to sing in the voice of Karen Carpenter?

I suppose I never really was totally aware of my likeness early on, I just used to sing along to their music since I was about 6 yrs old, and unknown to me the voice was moulding and strengthening to that way, without realising? ~During early on in my solo career, I noticed whenever I sang a Carpenters song it would turn heads, and get peoples attention. Then came the comments every time after a solo show that did I realize I sound so much like her? I was totally honoured as what a great compliment. ~At times I have even been accused of miming? 🙂 Now its rare to not have a comment, which is amazing to hear.

Q: Why do you think the music of Karen Carpenter is still as popular today as when it first came out?

Karens voice is unmistakeable there is and only will be one KC. The music/arrangments are all so different from each other song they did, the 60’s & 70’s were such fab times for everyone, and I think their music holds so many memories for people, grandparents, parents, then their children hear their music, so it goes on from there? It’s timeless, beautiful arrangements, and her voice just carries you away, man she could sing.

Q: Have you seen the 1987 movie ‘Superstar : The Karen Carpenter Story’?

Yes I have seen it a few times.

Q: What did you think of Cynthia Gibb’s version of Karen Carpenter?

She did a pretty good job, but its hard to say as I was only very young when she died, and they were so private that it was hard for people to see and know the real Karen. She looked quite good I think, maybe a bit too serious, as from what I see Karen had a more quirky, bubbly personality. They seemed to focus too much on the Anorexia and not on Karen & Richard. I feel Karen was a much more stronger person that she portrayed, you had to be to have been able to cope with all they had to in the music biz. shame they never found an actress who could sing like her, I found it offputting and wrong for her to mime to Karens voice, it was wrong to do that?

Q: Which songs on your tour do you enjoy singing most? Which do the audience respond to?

I enjoy singing all of them if I am honest, the raw vocal parts mainly on intros of the songs, I love that vulnerability and emotion you can get thru to the audience, they are feeling it with you. ‘I need to be in love’ was Karens song, it is special to do that one, the lyrics, the feel of the song, very emotional that one, and i can relate to that song, as im still looking for love LOL!!! The audience always love Top of the world, and Jambalaya, oo and Mr postman, they are very popular and well known hits, and sure to guarantee them singing along. But mainly each person has their own favourite, close to you is always a good one too. Some of my favourites are more obscure and not as well known, like ‘Road ode’, Crescent Moon, Maybe its you, crystal Lulaby… crumbs id be singing all night at this rate LOL

Starring TONI LEE as Karen Carpenter, ‘We’ve Only Just Begun – The Love Songs. A Celebration of The Carpenters in The National Concert Hall on 7th September, Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge on 17th September and Theatre Royal, Waterford on Friday, 21st October 2011. Performing all the hits including Yesterday Once More, Superstar, We’ve Only Just Begun, Please Mr. Postman, (They Long to Be) Close To You, It’s Going To Take Some Time, I Won’t Last A Day Without You, Rainy Days And Mondays, Top of the World, Ticket To Ride and many more.