Late last week, my girlfriend and I plopped onto the couch to watch "Trucker," Michelle Monaghan's indie flick that has been doing the film festival circuit since debuting at Tribeca in 2008. I'd be sitting down with the actress the next day—a day before the movie was set to get a theatrical release—and some kind marketing folks had sent the DVD my way.
Within the first few seconds of "Trucker," there's Monaghan vigorously, vociferously gettin' busy in a motel room. My girlfriend wondered aloud just what kind of movie I'd brought home, while I, I must confess, was hooked. So was Monaghan, as I'd find out when she stopped by the MTV News offices to chat.
"I don't even have to read the rest of the script before I say yes," she laughed when I asked about that first scene.
But it was really what came after—a hard-edged tale about a woman named Diane who drives a truck, drinks like a champ and has no interest in the child she gave birth to until he shows up one day at her door needing a place to live—that truly convinced Monaghan she needed to take the part. She'd played the rom-com love interest ("Maid of Honor," "The Heartbreak Kid") and the innocent-gal-caught-in-the-crosshairs ("Mission Impossible III," "Eagle Eye"). "Trucker" gave her a chance to play a fully fleshed-out woman, flaws and all.
"For me, a lot of roles that you read are one-dimensional and here was a woman who is multifaceted," the 33-year-old said. "She has amazing characteristics. She's unsentimental, she's not a victim, and she's very, very honest—she doesn't make any promises to anybody. I found really intriguing the idea of playing somebody who wasn't really likable on paper, because so often I read roles that, you know, 'Aw, she's the nice girl, she's the girlfriend, everybody loves her.' If you're an actor, you really long to play characters that people don't write that much. This was the role of a lifetime that I couldn't pass up."
To prepare for the role of Diane, Monaghan attended trucker school, spent time with female drivers and watched '70s films like "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," "Five Easy Pieces," as well as the work of John Cassavetes. Slipping into Diane's wardrobe—t-shirts and jeans—felt fairly natural ("This is not me!" she said of her glam interview-day get-up), but for the most part, the actress said she doesn't see too of herself in her character.
"There are aspects certainly of me in Diane, but I also like to bake too, and I've got a kid at home I happen to like a lot," she said with a smile. "So there are certain things of me that are pretty maternal."