CANNES — Michelle Monaghan is known for playing blondes in films like “The Bourne Supremacy,” but as a ceaselessly ambitious actress in “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang,” which just premiered here, she’s back as a saucy va-va-voom redhead.

“I’m back to my natural color,” she says, stroking her long brown hair and sounding relieved. “It’s me. It’s what I’m used to.”

Indeed, the bright, up-and-coming actress has a strong sense of herself and her style. A self-described “clothes whore,” she’s partial to Marni, Proenza Schouler and Roland Mouret, just to name a few. She also loves high heels. “Bring on the Christian Louboutin,” she declares, flailing her long arms.

And given the growing buzz around the fresh-faced actress, she’ll have plenty of opportunity to play dress-up. In addition to “Kiss, Kiss, Bang, Bang,” which got good reviews here, the versatile and well-read Monaghan will be seen in the forthcoming “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” with Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, and “Syriana,” opposite George Clooney.

Marching up the Croisette for the first time last week, Monaghan, 28, couldn’t resist snapping a picture of herself on the ubiquitous “Kiss, Kiss” film posters, which feature her with co-stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer. “I’m a newbie at this,” she confessed.

Still, her fashion choices are on point. Monaghan opted for a slinky Elie Saab gown for her maiden voyage on the Cannes red carpet but said she’s partial to streamlined casual, such as her interview outfit of a yellow leather Roberto Cavalli jacket with matador airs worn over a green Mayle chiffon top and slim jeans.

Not that she has much time to shop these days. Monaghan just finished shooting a still-untitled film by director Niki Caro, with co-stars Charlize Theron, Sissy Spacek and Frances McDormand. It’s a fictionalized account of the first major successful sexual harassment case in the United States. Still, Monaghan, having spent months sparring with Kilmer and Downey Jr., can’t resist calling it a “chick flick.”

Despite her keen interest in fashion, Monaghan said she has no ambitions to become a designer herself — except for perhaps the bedding department. “I’d like to design pillows one day,” she says, revealing a quirky hobby. “It’s something me and my mom do. I’d like to go to the fabric shows.”

This story first appeared in the May 17, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

But as with her acting, Monaghan takes her handicraft seriously. Leaning into the table, she declares with a laugh: “Martha Stewart, watch out!”

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