Over the last few years, Michelle Monaghan, a leggy Iowa native, has amassed an impressive list of male co-stars on her roster, from Robert Downey Jr. and Matt Damon to Tom Cruise. This fall, the 31-year-old adds two more: Ben Stiller, her love interest in the Farrelly brothers’ comedy “The Heartbreak Kid,” and Casey Affleck, her partner in Ben Affleck’s directorial debut, “Gone Baby Gone.” Though the brunette actress always has held her own on-screen, she admits facing off with Stiller was a challenge. “He’d improvise these hilarious scenes and my comebacks would be so not funny,” she recalls. “But he somehow turns it around and makes it work.”

ACTING INSOMNIAC: Ever the devoted worker, Monaghan says: “It’s hard for me to sleep at night when I am prepping for a role. I usually have a piece of paper and a pen by my bed, and I write down notes in the dark.”

GOTHAM GIRL: “I love living in New York City. You can get, like, six errands done in an hour, and throw in a mani-pedi, too.”

TWO FOR THE ROAD: Monaghan’s husband of two years, Pete White, is a freelance graphic designer. “He can just pick up his Mac, so we get to be together when I’m working.”

SWEET LIFE: “I love to bake. It’s really relaxing and I love the way the house smells. I make really good cheesecake. The one thing that I can’t seem to manage is a pavlova. My mother-in-law gave me the recipe, so I joke that she’s really got it in for me.”

MODEL STUDENT: While studying journalism at Columbia College Chicago, Monaghan took classes at night and modeled during the day. “I totally enjoyed it, but it was a means to an end,” she says. After three years, Monaghan had a change of heart and moved to New York to model and act.

PAPER DOLL: “The best part of promoting movies is getting dressed up for the red carpet,” she says. Off duty, “you will never see me in shorts, but I love vintage sundresses. I have a lot from my grandmother.”

This story first appeared in the September 13, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

MUST-HAVE FOR FALL: Black patent leather Balenciaga pumps.

UP NEXT: Monaghan just wrapped the romantic comedy “Made of Honor” opposite Patrick Dempsey and is shooting the indie “Trucker,” for which she learned to drive an 18-wheeler. “I was most surprised at the perception that people have of female truckers. The ones I met with are incredibly bright and talented. They just love the open road and the freedom of being on their own.”

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