Why is Michelle Monaghan not yet a household name in Hollywood?
The Iowa native, who nearly completed a journalism degree at Columbia College in the late ‘90s before heading to New York and focusing on modeling, has had standout parts in films such as “Gone Baby Gone,” “Mission: Impossible III,” “Eagle Eye” and “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.” She’s even shined in bad material (“Made of Honor,” “The Heartbreak Kid”).
Let’s give her one more shot: In “Source Code,” opening April 1, Monaghan plays Christina, a cutie on a Chicago-area train who bonds with Colter Stevens (Jake Gyllenhaal) while he uses 8 minutes—thanks to some nifty backwards time travel—to uncover the perpetrator of a bombing that already has taken place.
It’s not hard to see why Monaghan, 35, was cast: She’s lovely without seeming unapproachable and friendly without coming off as fake or earnest. And while she says her chosen activity in Chicago would be shopping and, after dubbing herself a dork, her ideal Saturday night involves bowling or playing pool, it’s easy to see the actress as both a girly girl and one of the guys.
Chicagoans didn’t see much of the “Source Code” cast during filming—they only shot here for two days, with all interiors filmed using a replica of a Metra car on a Montreal soundstage—but Monaghan, who lives in Los Angeles, is thrilled to be back: “We were driving early this morning,” she says at the Elysian Hotel, “and I was thinking, ‘Gosh, I could really maybe live back here!’”
If you had only 8 minutes to live, would you want to know that in advance?
Oh, now that is a good question. [Sighs.] No, I don’t think I’d want to know. That’s a really good question.
Because I might not be where I’d want to be those last 8 minutes. Do you know what I mean? [Laughs.]
Like waiting in line at Starbucks?
Yeah, I’d be in line in Starbucks. I’d be stuck at a red light. That would be torture.
What if you were on a beach in Mexico?
My family better be with me, do you know what I mean? [Laughs.] That’s a really good take on the question because honestly I keep getting that question, “If you had 8 minutes to live, [what would you do]?” But that, “Would you want to know?” that’s a really good question. I wonder if some people would want to know. It would be different if I knew I was going to die a month from now. Of course I’d want to know.
What did you do for fun when you were in school here?
Oh my gosh. Oh God! I spent time down at the [lake]. I had friends that had a boat, so we spent a lot of time—the summers here are extraordinary. One of my favorite things to do, and I still do it when I come back here, is go on the architecture tour on the river, which I love. I can’t seem to get enough of that. It’s always just such a nice thing to do. Again just shopping … I spent a lot of time outside in the city, just sort of walking around. It’s just such a great pedestrian city to spend time in.
I gave up my modeling career for journalism; why couldn’t you do the same?
Did you? [Laughs.] I loved modeling. It was great. And I really liked school a lot as well. I really enjoy journalism. It just became apparent to me, I don’t even know quite how, that it just wasn’t something that I wanted to have as a career and pursue.
And for some reason you thought modeling was more lucrative?
Well, no, I didn’t want to model anymore either. It was definitely more lucrative, that’s for sure. I think it came across when I realized that [if I were a reporter] I was going to have to go back to small markets. I would essentially be a one-man band. I was like, “Oh my gosh, man, I just got out of Iowa.”
You could have reported on your family! “Dad says, ‘The farm is going well.’”
Yeah, exactly. Well, that’s exciting, isn’t it? Um, no. But I’d always wanted to move to New York so then when I moved to New York I did continue modeling for lack of anything else to do, and that’s when I started doing commercials and got an agent and that’s it. The rest is history.
A lot of people are talking about your co-star Jake Gyllenhaal’s encounter at SXSW, when a fan tried to take a picture of him in the bathroom. What’s the most extreme fan encounter you’ve ever had?
Oh, I haven’t had anything weird. I honestly haven’t had anything weird like that. Any fan that I’ve ever come across has always been really gracious and has never been donning a camera in the bathroom, that’s for sure. I haven’t had any crazy fans like that.
Do you see bathroom photography taking off as a popular cult activity?
[Laughs.] Let’s hope not. The poor guy, he must not have a lot of exciting things in his life to go around taking photos of people in the bathroom. My goodness.
You’ve made such an impact in the films you’ve been in. Do you get recognized on the street?
I do, sometimes, but not very much, you know? I kind of think I fly under the radar a little bit.
Why do you think that is? You’ve been in so many films that a lot of people have seen!
I know! I don’t know, I think it’s the way I want it to be. I wouldn’t want it to be any other way. I like to be able to walk through the airport and down the street and grocery shop and very seldom really get recognized and that’s really nice. [In movies] I don’t really think I look like I do in real life. You probably wouldn’t really recognize me if you saw me at the grocery store or at Target, which I’m very often at.
You could dress up as one of your characters if you want to get recognized more.
Yeah, no, exactly, like put on a “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang” Santa costume or something like that. Like, seriously.
“It’s laundry day.”
[Laughs.] Yeah, exactly. “I always wear this on Fridays.”
Do you think time travel will happen in our lifetime?
In our lifetime I don’t know, but I definitely think it’s totally plausible. I’m kind of a believer in anything; there’s tons of things I never would have imagined we’d be witnessing today. So sure, why not?
Would you rather zoom to the future or the past?
God! Gosh. That’s a really tough [question]. I’d just want to be right where I’m at. I don’t want to go back, and I don’t want to miss out on anything.
So if someone came in here and said, “We’ve got a time machine; do you want to go past or future,” you’d say, “No thanks”?
Yeah, I think so. I mean, I don’t really want to zoom into the future. For what? Because I don’t necessarily think it’s going to be better in the future.
But flying cars are on the way!
[Laughs.] Oh really? Who doesn’t want to be in a flying car? No, I sort of want to be right where I’m at.
Here and now, who’s your favorite Chicago celebrity?
Oh God, probably Oprah.
‘Cause she’s the best! [Laughs.] Or Harry Caray, ‘cause I’m a big Chicago Cubs fan. That was a special thing. I remember coming to our first Chicago Cubs game at Wrigley Field and that was a pretty cool thing.
What year do you predict we’ll win the World Series again?
Oh, my gosh, don’t ask that! It’s like, please, come on, this year. This year. We’ve gotta, like, this year. Can I just say this year? I’m like a really glass-half-full kind of gal.
Cooler, Robert Downey Jr. or George Clooney? “Ooh, God, how do you choose? Robert is near and dear to me, so I would have to say Downey.”
More badass, Tom Cruise or Keanu Reeves? “Ooh, God, that’s such a really … Tom Cruise, ‘cause he’s like a big-time action star.”
On iPod right now: Mumford and Sons, Feist, AC/DC, Lynyrd Skynyrd
What she hasn’t done yet that she wants to: Psychological thriller and theater
If she could wake up in another person’s body: ABC investigative reporter Christiane Amanpour
What she’d want to investigate: The foster care system
On her Midwestern upbringing: “I feel very fortunate to have grown up in a very small town in Iowa. Really tight knit community and I think Midwestern people in general are very hard-working and good people and polite people and I think that can take you anywhere in life. I think those are the most important qualities in life.”
What goes through her head when someone says “Chicago”: Wiener’s Circle
Item of choice: Hot dog with mustard, celery salt, onion
Jake Gyllenhaal: Cute
Tom Cruise: Nice
Ben Affleck: Smart
Casey Affleck: Interesting
Patrick Dempsey: Adorable
George Clooney: Handsome
Robert Downey Jr.: My friend
Keanu Reeves: Beautiful
Ben Stiller: Hysterical
Michelle Monaghan: [Laughs.] Dork. “‘Cause I think I’m kind of dorky. I’m goofy, I’m goofy. That’s a nicer way of putting it. I’m a total goofball. I don’t take life very seriously and I like to have a lot of fun.”
Watch Matt on “You & Me This Morning,” Fridays at 7 a.m. on WCIU, the U
email@example.comCopyright © 2015, CT Now