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A Born Optimist: Michelle Monaghan

4 years ago by

Photos Lou Mora

Michelle Monaghan disarms you with her charm and manners and then she makes you love her more when she curses and talks about her love of cheese. Her healthy outlook on life and comfort in her own skin is refreshing and endearing. At her new home in Los Angeles we chatted about growing up in rural Iowa, working with Richard Gere, and her wonderful tv show, The Path, to which I’m totally hooked on, and also about her love of Anthony Bourdain and so much more. I hope you enjoy this podcast!

pardon my french michelle mognahan garance dore photo

pardon my french michelle mognahan garance dore photo

On growing up with foster children…
It was a real gift to us as a family. It really teaches you compassion. Children less fortunate or in dire straits and not great circumstances, come into your home and it’s powerful. I’m still in contact with several of them as a result of that.

On having a supportive upbringing…
I think so much of my success came with the foundation and the way in which I was raised. And I witnessed it so much with my folks and the way they embraced children and the power of faith, like never underestimate your child and believing in your sons or daughters. Really having that encouragement set the groundwork for who I am today.

On realizing she wanted to act…
I was marveling at the emotions I’d felt and I remember going to Bryant Park after I’d finished shooting that day and I get a little emotional even thinking about it. I sat down on a bench and cried. I had so much gratitude in that moment and thought, this is what I’m meant to do for the rest of my life, this is what I am going to do.

On thanking Richard Gere, years later, for being so kind during the filming of her first movie…
He looked at me and said, oh I did? That’s great. Good to see you, good to see you. He had no idea who I was!! It was awesome because it was so anticlimactic. It meant nothing to him but everything to me and it was so forgettable for him. Such a beautiful Hollywood moment!

pardon my french michelle mognahan garance dore photo

pardon my french michelle mognahan garance dore photo

pardon my french michelle mognahan garance dore photo

On coping with the up and down of fame…
What I’ve noticed is there is a real ebb and flow in this career. Things can be really busy and good and you’re on top of the world and in that moment, I sincerely take a step back and stop and have gratitude for that moment because I know what goes up will come down and there will be a natural ebb and then in the quiet times, enjoy that period and that balance and have it be about family.

On learning to surf…
I surf, not well, I’m a complete beginner. But my husband surfs, he’s Australian. I think one time he said to me, if you don’t want to get divorced, you’re going to have to learn how to surf! Fortunately, he’s a very good teacher, very patient, so he basically taught me how to surf.

On cooking…
I cook, though I wouldn’t say I’m a great cook. I’m not spontaneous. I want to be that person, that girlfriend that can open the fridge and say, let’s see, what have we got? Chicken, cabbage and jalapeños and cream and then they whip up this amazing dish. I’m not like that at all. I’m so the gal that needs the recipe, the big trip to the farmers’ market, get all the ingredients, and then prep everything.

On what she wants next…
In terms of my career, I want to continue to challenge myself and do roles that tackle characters that are interesting, complex and complicated, but I really want to do theater. That’s something that’s a really big dream of mine and I keep saying it, but it’s a hard one to figure out in terms of timing. I really won’t feel as though my career will be complete until I have that experience.

On her love of Anthony Bourdain…
I love Anthony Bourdain. He has a real zest for life. I love how adventurous he is and all of the places he travels. I love that he eats anything and he just seems like a lot of fun. I just want to tag along with him. I want to have dinner with him, I’m putting that out there! I want to have dinner with Anthony Bourdain!!

pardon my french michelle mognahan garance dore photo

Other things we discussed…
The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
James Corden
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
The Annenberg

You can watch Michelle in The Path, which is now in its second season on Hulu.

Find more episodes of Pardon My French here, and subscribe on iTunes for a new episode every Thursday!

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