I Heart Maika
EST 2016 | your ultimate source for all things Maika Monroe
I Heart Maika
EST 2016 | your ultimate source for all things Maika Monroe
Press Archive

Maika Monroe is going from “scream queen” to big-budget screen.

The 23-year-old actress made her film debut in 2012 alongside Zac Efron in “At Any Price,” and has since made a name for herself in indie horror flicks “The Guest” and “It Follows.” Now, she’s starring in her first summer blockbuster: “Independence Day: Resurgence.” The movie, reportedly made with a $200 million budget, marks her biggest role yet. Monroe plays a now-grown-up Patricia Whitmore, the first daughter of the President of the U.S. in the original 1996 film.

We caught up with Monroe before “Resurgence’s” Friday release to talk about working on a studio movie, acting alongside Liam Hemsworth, and what she’s working on next. With six movies already in post-production, expect to see a lot more of this up-and-comer.

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Super cool. Badass. Kickass. These are just a few of the adjectives that Maika Monroe often uses in casual conversation. They’re also completely appropriate descriptors to use for the 22-year-old nationally-ranked-kiteboarder-turned-bonafide-leading-woman as well. Hailing from Santa Barbara, Calif., Monroe is just getting started in her quest to carve out her place as a young actress in Hollywood, and she’s doing it with remarkable proficiency. A cursory glance at her IMDb page boasts an embarrassment of riches in both directors (Sofia Coppola, Jason Reitman) and actors (Kate Winslet, Josh Brolin, Zac Efron) with whom she’s already collaborated. Most important, Maika Monroe is making power moves on her own terms.

After a spate of minor roles in projects like At Any Price and The Bling Ring, Monroe watched her star power explode in 2014 after the one-two punch of Adam Wingard’s pop home-invasion thriller The Guest and David Robert Mitchell’s chilling sexual terror tale It Follows. The former became an instant cult hit while the latter not only rejuvenated the art house horror genre—paving the way for films like Goodnight Mommy and The Witch—but also grossed tenfold its $2 million budget. Monroe became instantly celebrated for her impressive acting chops and her eye for smart scripts that feature powerful, multi-faceted female characters.

This summer, the actress is out to prove her range, transitioning from indie darling to blockbuster boss in this summer’s highly anticipated Independence Day: Resurgence, in which she plays Patricia Whitmore, the daughter of the former president, played by Bill Pullman. It’s Monroe’s first step into the mainstream, but also proof that she’s up for anything. Think that Monroe is ready to settle for the “scream queen” label? Think again.

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The 23-year-old former athlete, who got her big break in 2014’s Sundance hit ‘It Follows,’ is making the leap to tentpole with a role in ‘Resurgence.’

Up until age 17, Maika Monroe glided across a different shimmering surface than the big screen. The Santa Barbara native was living in the Dominican Republic as a top-ranked professional kiteboarder, an extreme sport that looks something like snowboarding on water. For years, Monroe had been sending out mostly ignored audition tapes to casting agents. But in 2011, she received a call about playing Zac Efron’s love interest in the family drama At Any Price. She landed the role, and her future quickly changed course. A bit part in The Bling Ring and a showy role in The Guest followed before she nabbed the lead in the Sundance horror breakout It Follows. Now, she’s making the leap to tentpole with Fox’s Independence Day: Resurgence (June 24), playing former First Daughter Patricia Whitmore. Though she’s largely shelved the board and sunblock, she still gets out on the water between roles (“It really helps me stay sane,” she says.) The actress spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about who she bonded with most on set, the perils of Hollywood and whether or not we’ve been visited by ETs.

How has kiteboarding helped you as an actress?

It taught me determination, working hard for something. There’s lots of discipline. I enjoy roles that are quite physical. That was really fun with Independence Day, being a fighter pilot, kicking some ass.

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Based on the decidedly dark movies that have catapulted Maika Monroe to indie fame over the past few years — cult horror film It Follows and campy thriller The Guest, both of which see her confronting the possibility of an extremely violent death — I’d expected her to be a very grim person, a sort of self-serious Rooney Mara type dressed in all black, avoiding eye contact, and staring wistfully at the door. Instead, Monroe is almost absurdly warm and gregarious, bounding energetically into the L.A. office building where we’re set to meet, grinning and wearing a bright pink, dragon-emblazoned letterman jacket from Tokyo that she’s thrilled to expound upon at length. (In short: We agree that owning several insane jackets is important, as they both complement and obscure a boring outfit; she promises to hook me up with a similar jacket when she goes to Tokyo for press.)

It’s almost too much; for at least 15 minutes, I assume Monroe is being held at invisible gunpoint by a cadre of publicists. But as we keep talking, I realize Monroe, 22, is genuinely this kind, this goofy, and this unaffected by the Hollywood machine. This is in no small part because of the rare, surreal situation she’s found herself in, a situation she laughs about and marvels at throughout our conversation: Over the course of approximately four years, Monroe has gone from living a low-key life in the Dominican Republic as an unknown, would-be professional kiteboarder to an in-demand Hollywood actress with so many projects on her docket that I have to help her remember them all. The biggest one, of course, is Independence Day: Resurgence, out this July. The ravenously anticipated sequel marks Monroe’s first mainstream, blockbuster movie — though, naturally, the threat of a graphically violent death still looms large.

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Maika Monroe was on track to become a world-renowned freestyle kiteboarder when Hollywood called. Suddenly, film sets replaced beaches, and within a few short years, the Santa Barbara native would find herself on her way to the top once again. The ascent, both rapid and impressive, began with parts in Labor Day and The Guest and took off when she landed her first starring gig in the award-winning 2015 horror flick It Follows. The role—that of a teenager who inherits a haunting, fatal curse after sleeping with her boyfriend—would ultimately put the 22-year-old on the map and have everyone talking.

Going into 2016, Monroe shows no sign of slowing down, starting with this month’s The 5th Wave, the first film installment of the young-adult science-fiction book trilogy of the same name. In the film, which also stars Chloë Grace Moretz, Monroe plays the raven-haired, gun-slinging Ringer, who she describes as the “kickass of the group.” She later went on to tell us, “[Ringer] was a part that I really fought for, because I think she’s such a cool role model for girls.”

In addition to The 5th Wave, which arrives in theaters tomorrow, Monroe is set to hit the big screen again this June alongside her childhood crush Jeff Goldblum in the long-awaited Independence Day sequel, Resurgence, followed by Bokeh and Hot Summer Nights later in the year.

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Press Archive

In 2011, while her peers in Santa Barbara were preparing to head off to college, 17-year-old Maika Monroe moved to the Dominican Republic to train as a professional kiteboarder. Acting had been an interest of hers, too, but after booking few roles, it wasn’t her priority. Before a year had passed abroad, however, that changed; an audition tape landed her a role in her first feature film, Ramin Bahrani’s At Any Price, and she had a decision to make. Should she end her first career, kiteboarding, and begin her second?

“I was living the Dominican Republic at the time when I was making the decision,” she recalls. “I would make lists of the pros and cons. It was very, very difficult because kiteboarding and acting are so different. They’re such incredibly different lifestyles but at the end of the day, I think my heart was in acting. I’m very happy; I think I made the right choice.”

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