Michelle Monaghan

Michelle Monaghan in Source Code

Michelle Monaghan in “Source Code”

Michelle Monaghan has been a hard-working young actress for nearly a decade, and lately it’s been paying off with a number of leading roles. In movies as diverse as “Mission: Impossible 3,” the Farrelly brothers’ comedy remake, “The Heartbreak Kid,” and the hard-edged thriller, “Gone Baby Gone,” the willowy small-town brunette with the killer smile is definitely playing in the big time now.

Born in 1976 and raised in Winthrop, Iowa (population 700), Michelle started acting in school plays, but it took a conversation with her mother before she ever considered doing the job professionally. Nevertheless, when time for college came around, Michelle majored in journalism, taking modeling jobs to pay her way. Those jobs took her to London, Milan, Singapore and Hong Kong. Michelle began to take the show business life a bit more seriously.

By 2000, Michelle was getting her share of television work, appearing in two episodes of the short-lived “Young Americans” and one episode of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” not to mention a series of ads for deodorant and feminine hygiene products. There was no place to go but up. Soon, a supporting role in the little-seen fashion industry drama, “Perfume,” was followed by a part in a more successful film: 2002’s “Unfaithful” with Diane Lane and Richard Gere. That was followed by an eight-episode run on “Boston Public” and more supporting roles in films like “Constantine” and “The Bourne Supremacy” – though most of that work remained on the proverbial cutting room floor. (Reportedly, a role in “Syriana” was entirely removed from the finished film.)

Despite that, 2005 was actually a great year for Michelle. Michelle finally got her first starring role as the love interest in Shane Black’s meta-thriller-comedy, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” starring Val Kilmer as a gay private eye and Robert Downey, Jr. as a thief-turned-actor. Michelle was appealing, even if the film proved a bit much for audiences to swallow. 2005 was also the year she married her boyfriend of five years, graphic designer Peter White. And the work kept coming. Michelle was featured in the highly acclaimed “North Country” and the highly gossip-worthy “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.” And then came the part of Ethan Hunt’s one true love in “Mission: Impossible 3” and her 2007 roles opposite Ben Stiller and Casey Affleck. With several more films to come, it looks like Michelle’s status as one of Hollywood’s go-to leading ladies is rock solid.

Michelle on Screen

It’s a fun, stylish film, but few were surprised that “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” wasn’t a giant hit. Among other oddities, the film asked the audience to believe that perfect looking 29-year-old Michelle and haggard looking 40-year-old Robert Downey, Jr. had grown up together. Still Shane “Lethal Weapon” Black’s movie is a hoot, especially for film buffs and fans of old school murder mysteries and crime fiction. And Michelle does a very creditable job as a latter-day descendent of the kind of independent, sexy women once played by Lauren Bacall and Veronica Lake. Check it out.

Michelle Says

On working with Richard Gere and Diane Lane in “Faithless”:
“I started thinking of that game from Sesame Street, ‘Which of these three things does not belong?'”

On hitting the movie big time:
“….That’s when you have a pinch yourself moment, because you can’t believe that’s your life. But in my day-to-day it does feel right because for every job that I’ve gotten I’ve had 50 that I haven’t.”

On cinematic smooching:
“You know I think it’s hard in any film when you’re kissing someone who you don’t really have genuine feelings for… but at the same time it’s our job…there are worse things I could be doing on that particular day than kissing Tom Cruise I suppose.”

Michelle Monaghan in “The Heartbreak Kid”

Michelle Monaghan

Michelle Monaghan