Good morning, midnight: Heather Matarazzo

Question: I've heard that Heather Matarazzo, who played Dawn Wiener in Welcome to the Dollhouse, hated the character, and that's why she isn't in Palindromes. Is that true, or did the director not want her?


Answer: Director Todd Solondz has said he desperately wanted Heather Matarazzo to reprise the part of Dawn Wiener; in fact, he says he begged her to play Dawn first in Storytelling (2002) and then in Palindromes (2005), but she insisted she never wanted to play the role again. So Solondz killed her: Dawn's funeral opens Palindromes. Matarazzo, who was 11 when Welcome to the Dollhouse (1995) was shot, has expressed mixed feelings about the role of junior-high misfit "Wiener Dog," the awkward, floundering, abrasive cootie-girl sandwiched between a brainy older brother and an adorable baby ballerina. In a recent interview with The Advocate she suggested that what bothered her most about the role was that people assumed — and continue to assume — that she was Dawn, declaring "It's not me! I'm playing a character." Since Dollhouse, Matarazzo has appeared in more than a dozen films, from Scream 3 (2000) to The Princess Diaries movies, but hasn't yet played a character as achingly, thornily real as the beleaguered Dawn. On the other hand, she's all of 21 years old and by all accounts thoroughly levelheaded, responsible and not screwed up — she has lots of time.