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.
Keeping Monroe’s budding career in mind, we invited the star into our studio to take on a trend that has demonstrated as much staying power as the actress herself: pleats. Below, we chat with our January Girl on the Rise about her upcoming projects, her statement-shoe obsession, and the Instagram account we should all be following.
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Who What Wear: Do you share any common traits with Ringer in The 5th Wave?
Maika Monroe: I would like to think that I’m somewhat tough. I think in this industry, specifically, you kind of have to be. So I like to think of myself that way. I don’t know if I’m as tough as [Ringer], but I’m working on it.
WWW: What do you think audiences will love about the film?
MM: I think what’s nice about this film is that the characters are super relatable. It doesn’t take place in the future; it takes place now. And it’s not superheroes or kids with special abilities; it’s ordinary people just thrown into an insane situation, and how they deal with it. We’ve all lost people, we’ve all been through so much—it’s relatable in that way.
WWW: How close were you with the other young cast members?
MM: This was a really close cast, which is so nice to have on a film, especially one like this, where you are shooting in Atlanta. I think we were there for a total of three or four months. I mean, you’ve got to have fun. It’s important to have your work and then also enjoy yourself. We all got along really well. Chloë [Grace Moretz] is so cool and so professional for her age. She’s done so many projects, which is nice to see from someone so young and who has such a good head on her shoulders. There was this cool bar with all these pool tables, so some of the older kids that were over 21 would go and have competitions. I’m not great, but I did improve while I was there.
WWW: Next up, you have the highly anticipated Independence Day: Resurgence. Did you feel the pressure to live up to the first film?
MM: Absolutely. I remember watching the movie back when I was a kid. My dad loved it, so he was the one that showed me it. I loved it and had a huge crush on Jeff Goldblum. So yes, I felt incredible pressure. You have the older cast with so many legendary actors, so being part of the newer cast, definitely there was pressure.
WWW: You have to tell us about working with Jeff Goldblum!
MM: Jeff is probably one of the most magical people I’ve ever met. There is no one in this world like him. When you talk to him, he is so present and interested in what you are saying. I think that’s so refreshing to have someone like that. He’s just really a special person, and I feel really lucky to have worked with him.
WWW: So obviously you are no stranger to sci-fi and horror films. Is there a genre you haven’t explored yet but would like to?
MM: I think it would be pretty cool to play a superhero. I’ve done some indies and dramas between The 5th Wave and Independence Day, but I think it would be so cool to play a superhero. That’s probably my next goal.
WWW: Do you have a favorite superhero franchise that you would want to be a part of?
MM: My favorite growing up was always Batman, so maybe a little Catwoman in there—that would be pretty cool!
WWW: What kind of characters and scripts are you attracted to today?
MM: Gosh, that’s hard. I’m not sure what it is for me. When I read a script first, I’m always looking at the character. I think recently it’s been a lot of really strong, tough girls, which is very cool that you are starting to see that more and more in film. But I don’t think that’s necessarily all I want to play. I guess at the end of the day, it would be a character that is intriguing and that I would want to bring to life.
WWW: What would you say was one of the most challenging scenes you ever filmed?
MM: Probably in It Follows, the scene where I’m tied to the wheelchair and I’m waking up. That was a hard one, because it was below freezing, and between every take, they would have to wrap me up with blankets and bring heaters over. I was tied to a chair, so I had to stay there. That was brutal.
Credits: Mary Katrantzou Archo Jumper ($770) and Uni Skirt ($1545) in Stripe Bouquet; Eddie Borgo Assemblage Drop Earrings ($375); Jennifer Fisher Large ID Ring ($340); Chloe Gosselin Moonseed Shoes ($775).
WWW: Okay, let’s talk fashion. How would you describe your everyday style?
MM: I would have to say a mix between girly and tomboy. I really like mixing the two; it’s fun, and I think it’s who I am as well.
WWW: What item is on heavy rotation in your wardrobe right now?
MM: I have these gold Saint Laurent boots that I got. I am obsessed with them; they are pretty incredible. You can dress them up with something nice or wear them with baggy boyfriend jeans and a T-shirt.
WWW: What’s your fashion guilty pleasure?
MM: Shoes in general. I love shoes. I have crazy-wild shoes, like my gold Saint Laurent boots, and sneakers.
WWW: Who do you consider to be your style icons?
MM: Well, I would have to say a little Michael Jackson. I really dig his style. And I think some Alexa Chung. She mixes some cool stuff.
WWW: What about your favorite onscreen beauties?
MM: Present day, Meryl Streep and Cate Blanchett are some really incredible actresses. I heard that Meryl is considered the best living actress, so that’s pretty cool. It would be pretty incredible to work with her and learn from her. It may be obvious, but I think Marilyn Monroe, the presence that she brings on screen. There’s just something magical about how she performs in movies and just her style, and how she carries herself is quite cool. It would be great if we still made movies like that.
WWW: I read that you are also a professional kiteboarder. How did you get into that sport?
MM: My dad started when I was about 11 years old, and then finally when I was 13, I convinced him to teach me. I fell in love with it because we started traveling the world and I would see so many different places and meet so many cool people that were kiteboarders. It became a really big part of my life. It was nice having this thing that my dad and I had together.
WWW: What is your favorite place to kiteboard?
MM: I would say Cape Town. It is one of the coolest places I’ve ever been, and kiteboarding there was pretty incredible.
WWW: What song are you obsessed with at the moment?
MM: “Somebody to Love” by Freddie Mercury.
WWW: What’s your TV guilty pleasure?
MM: I just started watching the other night About a Boy, because I heard people talking about it. It’s pretty great. It makes me laugh, and I really enjoy it.
WWW: Who do you like to follow up on social?
MM: On Instagram, there’s this account called @__nitch, and it’s a bunch of really inspiring quotes from cool people, so that’s probably my favorite one to follow at the moment. I love following Vogue and W magazine, because they have some really great stuff with fashion.
Credits: Altuzarra Flamingo Crepe and Pleated Silk-Chiffon Dress ($1495); Jennifer Fisher Long Cylinder Choker ($1225) in Plated Silver-Rhodium; Topshop Roll Top Glitter Socks ($6); Creatures of the Wind Chunky Heel Sandals ($545).
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