Michelle Monaghan as Grace in Every Breath You Take
Every Breath You Take is a searing psychological thriller about a psychiatrist (Casey Affleck, “Gone Baby Gone”), whose career is thrown into jeopardy when his patient takes her own life. When he invites his patient’s surviving brother (Sam Claflin, “Hunger Games: Catching Fire”) into his home to meet his wife (Michelle Monaghan, “Kiss Kiss Bang Bang”) and daughter, his family life is suddenly torn apart.
I had the opportunity to connect with the beautiful Michelle Monaghan via phone to talk about Every Breath You Take. Monaghan spoke about her character dealing with grief and how she tries to cope. She also shared about getting to work with Casey Affleck again, new projects and more.
Nancy Tapia: Hi. Nice to speak to you.
Michelle Monaghan: How are you?
Nancy Tapia: I’m doing great, thank you. How are you?
Michelle Monaghan: I’m pretty well too. Thank you.
Nancy Tapia: I got to speak to you last year for The Craft Legacy. To get to talk to you within a year, I’m pretty.
Michelle Monaghan: That’s amazing.
Nancy Tapia: That means you’re keeping busy, but this time with Every Breath You Take.
Michelle Monaghan: Yes.
Nancy Tapia: Let me jump in to swimming. In this film your character takes her grief to practice swimming to help herself mentally.
Michelle Monaghan: Yes, and I’m not really a swimmer, so that in itself was a challenge for me. I was really intrigued by the swimming aspect. I don’t know if we anticipated it to be or if it was as written to be as much of a refuge for her. But we really did make it a refuge for her.
There were moments I believe in the night plan that we used as an opportunity to kind of find a place for her to express her emotion. She screams underwater. I wanted it to be indicative of her not having a place to connect or be able to emotionally access in the house or with any sort of relationship that she had. Her husband is very emotional and accessible. It was the only place that I think that she was able to go and find some reprieve.
Nancy Tapia: I got to speak to Vaughn Stein (director) and he spoke highly about you and what a trooper you were in these scenes when it was freezing cold.
Michelle Monaghan: Haha…It was freezing cold and you get to attest to that. It was very cold, but listen, that just added to the drama of the film and the look of the film. I just appreciated just having those character moments, those quiet character moments that I think are really important for any role in any film and you find moments where you can get the audience to understand what a character is privately going through. I thought that bond, it was so open and collaborative in that respect to whether it was inside the pool or having grades.
She was just walking through the various rooms and finding touchstones. Moments where you could see her in her grief and the loss that she would enjoy. I thought he did a beautiful job within that. He did that with all of the characters and I think that’s how the audience really kind of connects with them in the movie and really starts to invest in people.
Nancy Tapia: You’re in the first scene of the film where it leaves pretty much the viewer, “Whoa, that just happened”. Then it goes to a slower pace, that slow burn thriller. But you were the heart of the movie in trying to hold the family together during a difficult time. That is a huge role to take on too.
Michelle Monaghan: I think so you know and I think it’s not one that is all too unfamiliar with families that do endure tragedies such as this. I think that if this movie says anything, it’s really to say that loss is profound in the world, especially today. That everyone deals with it in a very different way. I think that she’s really battling these demons that she has guilt and shame for having been behind the wheel.
I can’t imagine what that must feel like. And then not have an outlet or someone to kind of communicate that to. Then you have Philip played brilliantly by Casey Affleck, that has seemingly all the resources and the tools in the world to cope with a loss like this, and yet completely shuts down. Then a teenager that on good days, is a teenager and probably struggling. But added to that, the couple with grief and loss and was very alone. I loved all of those different ways because then you can easily understand how one person can come in and kind of manipulate all these different possibilities that a family is collected to go through.
Nancy Tapia: Right now you mentioned the cast, Casey and Lucy, the teenager played by India Eisley. But going back to Casey, I’m sure it makes it easier since you guys have worked together in the classic Gone Baby Gone. How was it to work together again?
Michelle Monaghan: That was such a profound film for me to make and early on in my career. It remains a highlight, definitely. So when this opportunity came up to reunite with him creatively, it was very exciting. This was a very different dynamic that these two characters have.
I thought it would be really great to explore that with him. And then, when we got in the room and started working together again, I was reminded of what a great talent he was and how meticulous he is with his craft. It was a very easy partnership. I just really appreciate the depth of his talent. It was really great to reconnect again.
Nancy Tapia: When you read the script as an actress, what scene did you look forward to filming that maybe you felt like it was challenging you?
Michelle Monaghan: Probably the scene that I most look forward to is always the scene that I most dreaded as well which is the scene that was shot on the couch when I divulged to Philip that I had an affair. I think just because there was so much going on in that scene, with both the characters, those are just such heavy acting moments. I was looking forward to it because I was looking forward to sharing that scene with Casey cause he’s such a great actor and what he would bring to it.
But also feeling the weight of the pressure as well because you know, I think the challenge always with films like this and when you’re sharing a story, is an experience that is not unique to this. People all over the world share this kind of loss that you want to be, you want it to feel grounded and want to honor it and want to be authentic. So, I looked forward to that scene, but I also wanted to really honor the loss that people really do endure every day.
Nancy Tapia: I was not expecting that to happen when watching the film. Like you say it shows how loss can lead to also being extra vulnerable in a state of loss.
Michelle Monaghan: I definitely think there is that gray area. I think that’s because she is really struggling to keep the family together and to pick up the pieces of wanting to connect and not connecting in any meaningful way with her husband. It is when somebody else comes into your life, that is seemingly experiencing a loss as well, and you’re connecting over that. You can see how her vulnerability is taken advantage of.
Nancy Tapia: Let’s talk a little bit about the location. One of the things that I really appreciated was the cinematography, the house. It all seemed to be a perfect fit for the film in displaying how they were so disconnected at home. How did it facilitate you?
Michelle Monaghan: Yeah, it really did. I appreciate you acknowledging that. We had a wonderful DP Michael Merriman, very talented. We shot near Whistler in Canada and at Vancouver, British Columbia. The house was set there and I thought that the idea that Philip (Casey Affleck) had the separate office and that they were always sort of disconnected. He kind of always retreated to the office and she’d retreat to the pool. And yet, they would share this space together, that house together, but not really.
They would just move through it just to get kind of their own places. Their own individual places of refuge. So I thought that was really well done. I thought the house was really beautiful, but also it was very, kind of cold. The concrete in the window and it was dark, it was winter and it really reflected the home life and what these characters were all experiencing in the story.
Nancy Tapia: To finalize, is there anything you can share on other projects this year?
Michelle Monaghan: I have a film, I’m not sure when it will be coming out, but it’s called Blood, a drama coming out directed by Brad Anderson. I’ve just been shooting a film called Black Site, which is an action film directed by Sophia Banks here in Australia. That will be coming out later this year or early next year.
Nancy Tapia: Great, so we get to see more of you. Thank you so much for your time. I’m pretty sure people are going to enjoy watching Every Breath You Take, I did.
Michelle Monaghan: That’s what we want. Thank you so much, Nancy. I appreciate it and nice speaking to you again.
Nancy Tapia: Likewise, Thank you. Take care. Okay.
Every Breath You Take is available in theaters and VOD