Michelle Monaghan Interview

Michelle Monaghan plays Julia Meade in Mission: Impossible III

Like many millions of others all over the world, Michelle Monaghan is a Tom Cruise fan. Ask her to name a favourite film and she reels off a list of movies which have become part of modern day culture.

Does that list include the first Mission: Impossible, you wonder? Released ten years ago, Cruise played Ethan Hunt the secret agent with all the odds stacked against him who battles to survive in an increasingly hostile world.

The first film was released in 1996, a box office success which also won much critical acclaim. At that time, Michelle was still as college and remembers going to see the movie with a former sweetheart.

“Yeah, I saw it with my High School sweetheart,” she laughs. “Was I a Tom Cruise fan? Oh come on! Of course, I mean what girl wasn't?

“I mean, Risky Business, every film he has done we've loved. I was watching The Firm the other night and he was so great in that. Interview with A Vampire, I loved that.” I see these films on the television and it dawns on me that I'm working with him. I'm like `oh my gosh!'”

Little wonder, perhaps, that she is so clearly, endearingly delighted to be playing the leading lady - the woman who has captured Hunt's heart no less - in the latest instalment of the captivating Mission: Impossible series. “I see Tom's films on the television and it dawns on me that I'm working with him. I'm like `oh my gosh!'”

Directed by J.J. Abrams, who created, wrote and produced the smash hit television shows Alias and Lost, and starring Cruise in one of the iconic roles of modern cinema, Mission: Impossible III promises a new thrilling chapter in the action adventure series.

Michelle admits that she was nervous when first summoned for an audition with Cruise and Abrams. But both quickly made her feel at ease.

“Of course I was so nervous, I was beyond nervous because I've been a big fan of his for a long, long time and I went into do the audition, I sat down with them and we talked for twenty minutes and that was it. I was completely comfortable and I felt like I was hanging out with an old friend.

“Thank goodness because I was able to give a good audition and as a result of that get the job. He really is a normal guy. I mean, he's Tom Cruise and an incredible actor and yes, we all know the legend, but he is really down to earth and the way that he treated me and the cast and crew was really, really special.”

Michelle's character is essential to the story, says the director, who wanted to show the private life of the man who carries out such dangerous missions. But at least at first, Julia has no idea that the man she has fallen in love with doubles as an agent.

“She has no idea that he has this whole other life,” explains Michelle. “No idea at all. But then she gets taken along for this ride whether she likes it or not and she starts to understand really what his day job is all about.

“But I loved that she is not a victim, she is a very strong character and that is why I love J.J so much.  I mean, if you look at the female characters he's written in the past, he's very good with them, he doesn't write clichéd female characters, they are all very strong and empowered, they are not victims and you don't see that very much in Hollywood. And I love the fact that J.J. is kind of shedding some light on the modern woman.”

Michelle, 29, has two older brothers and grew up in the small town of Winthrop, Iowa, where her mother still runs a childcare centre from the family home and her father worked in a local factory.
She initially studied journalism at college in Chicago and worked as a model to help pay the fees. But by the third year of college she had decided that journalism wasn't for her and instead, headed to New York where she explored the desire to try acting.

After combining modelling and small acting jobs, she decided to concentrate full time on the latter and hasn't ever regretted her decision.

“I absolutely love it. First of all I have never had so much fun in my life. I feel so lucky to be able to do this. It's really challenging for me, it puts the fear of God in me and I am so absolutely fulfilled by it. I really am. I hope I can do it for the rest of my life.”

Michelle, 29, has been winning more and more plaudits, thanks to her role  in several episodes of the hit TV show Boston Public and films including The Bourne Supremacy, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and most recently, alongside Charlize Theron in North Country.

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Michelle Monaghan plays Julia Meade in Mission: Impossible III
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