Actress Michelle Monaghan burst onto big screens seemingly out of nowhere in the mid 2000s, launching right into commanding roles alongside A-listers like Tom Cruise, Charlize Theron and Leonardo DiCaprio in blockbuster thrillers and dramas. The former fashion model quickly proved she had more to bring to the party than just raven-haired bombshell looks, and her solid supporting performances in "Mission: Impossible III" (2006) and "Gone, Baby, Gone" (2007) evolved into lead status in the actioner "Eagle Eye" (2008). Monaghan was eventually called upon to showcase her natural quick-wit and comedic talent with a crossover into romantic comedies like "The Heartbreak Kid" (2007) and "Maid of Honor" (2008), where the versatile actress confirmed that she had charm and appeal to spare.
Michelle Monaghan was born on March 23, 1976, and raised in the small town of Winthrop, IA, population 700. Monaghan was active in theater in high school, where she was also class president, but when she moved to Chicago upon graduating high school, it was to pursue a degree in journalism. Monaghan did some modeling on the side to pay for tuition, but when she eventually found herself heavily in demand and interrupting her studies to travel to Europe and Asia for modeling gigs, she dropped out of college her junior year, deciding to commit to modeling full-time. Moving to New York City, Monaghan posed for a variety of catalogs, magazines and clothing designers but had hopes of parlaying her position in front of the camera into a return to acting. She landed a few minor parts in television - most notably on the short-lived WB series "Young Americans" in 2000 and NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" in 2001. Her feature debut came with the indie "Perfume" (2001) and was followed by a slightly showier and higher-profile role in director Adrian Lyne's romantic thriller, "Unfaithful" in 2002.
Monaghan's big acting break came late in 2002, when she was added to the cast of David E. Kelley's "Boston Public" (FOX, 2000-04). Hand-picked by executive producer Kelley for the role of idealistic, young high school teacher Kimberly Woods, Monaghan garnered positive attention from critics and viewers alike during her two-year run on the show. Following the show's cancellation, Monaghan returned to the silver screen in a series of high profile features, starting with "It Runs in the Family" (2003) opposite Michael Douglas, "Winter Solstice" (2004), and the blockbuster smash "The Bourne Supremacy" (2004). Monaghan was quickly spotted by Hollywood directors who cast her in high-profile films like the Brad Pitt-Angelina Jolie action-comedy, "Mr. And Mrs. Smith" (2005) and "North Country" (2005), where she played one of Charlize Theron's female miner co-workers and fellow victim of sexual harassment. In her first major leading role in a studio film, she played an actress opposite Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer in the action thriller "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" (2005), which earned her critical notice with Best Supporting Actress nominations from the Saturn and Satellite Awards.
The charismatic actress played for her largest audience yet when she co-starred opposite Tom Cruise in 2006's "Mission: Impossible III," in the crucial supporting role of the agent's quiet-living civilian fiancée who winds up as a pawn in an international conspiracy. In another kidnapping thriller, Monaghan essayed a private detective on the trail of a missing child in Ben Affleck's acclaimed directorial debut, "Gone, Baby, Gone" (2007). The rising actress shifted to comedy for her next pair of projects and proved appealing in popular (if critically derided) romantic comedies "The Heartbreak Kid," where she clicked with Ben Affleck, and "Made of Honor" (2008), opposite Patrick Dempsey. In her first lead, Monaghan took the wheel to play a truck driver whose life is interrupted by the arrival of her 12-year-old son from the father who has raised him in the indie "Trucker" (2008). She returned to thrillers with "Eagle Eye" (2008), a wildly improbable political frame-up that nevertheless opened in the number one slot at the box office - due mainly to the draw of the film's lead, hot actor, Shia LeBeouf.