Monique Gabriela Curnen, 46, was raised in Framingham and went to Williams College. Her first major film role was as Ryan Gosling’s love interest in Half Nelson, but her breakthrough came when she played Det. Ramirez in The Dark Knight. On film, she has appeared in Fast & Furious, Contagion, Maria Full of Grace and Legacy: Black Ops. She stars in the NBC series Taken, and her other television credits include Elementary, The Following, Lie to Me, Sons of Anarchy and The Unusuals. She lives in Los Angeles.
Jonathan Soroff: Thing you miss most about Boston?
Monique Gabriela Curnen: I just love walking along the Charles.
If you weren’t an actor, what do you think you’d do? I would learn how to play the bass and travel on tour with either Bruno Mars or Beyoncé.
Is Ryan Gosling as dreamy in person? Not only is he dreamy, he’s a lovely person. He’s grounded and great to work with.
Anyone you ever worked with whom you’d never work with again? No. I’ve been really fortunate in that regard.
Person you’re dying to work with but haven’t yet? Don Cheadle and Donald Glover, from the FX show Atlanta.
TV show you’re currently binge-watching? I am just starting on Big Little Lies, and I most recently just sped through Greenleaf, which was Oprah’s most recent series. I’m half Puerto Rican, and that was like my telenovela fix. It’s high drama.
Show you would kill to be on? I would love to be on Fargo. I love the humor and the craziness and the brutality. I loved working with that show’s creator, Noah Hawley. He was great, and I’d love to work with him again. I would love to be on Issa Rae’s show, Insecure. And I really love the American Crime series on ABC.
Biggest lie on your acting resume? [Laughs.] That’s an awesome question! Currently, there are no lies on the resume, but I’m happy to make one up. How about expert back-flipper?
You get cast as a detective again and again. Why do you think that is? It’s so funny you say that, because it mystifies my dad. He’s a retired teacher, and he’s like, “What’s with the police vibe?” I think it’s because I can sometimes have a toughness in my character that is genuine and that people connect to. It’s a sharp intelligence that I think you need in law enforcement. I’ve worked with several police consultants on several shows, and the highest compliment they gave me was that they really believed I could work in that profession. It might have something to do with the fact that I’m a tomboy and I grew up with three brothers. I had to learn to be a little rough and tumble, and it doesn’t scare me to do that on the job. Women are so tough, and I think we’re seeing a lot more of that on TV. We have babies. We have to be tough.
Audition horror story? Oh, gosh, there are so, so many, but I guess there was the time during pilot season when I tested in front of both the network and the studio executives. I literally had an out-of-body experience. I walked into the room, and no one smiled. I literally was watching myself do the audition, and I don’t actually remember what I did, but I left there thinking, “Oh, God. That was a disaster.” It was just bizarre.
Anything you’d like to erase from your IMDB page? [Laughs.] I did a short, where I was just showing up for a friend, but he named me Orgasm Girl, so I’d take that one off. I was like, “Seriously? I’m helping out a friend, and that’s what he named the character?” I really didn’t think it would be distilled to that title. [Laughs.]
Any strong desire to do more theater? Absolutely. Last year, I did a play at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago called Another Word for Beauty. It was a phenomenal experience. Great theater. Great cast. And it was so great to be back on stage again. For sure, that’s something that will stay in the mix in the coming years.
Can you sing? I can carry a tune. I don’t think I’ll be auditioning for Hamilton anytime soon. I’d have to work with a voice coach to get my range and everything up to speed.
Have you seen all the Fast & Furious movies? Ahhh, no. There are so many of them! But those car chases are just amazing, and the ones I have seen are very cool. I have seen all the Magic Mike series, though. [Laughs.]
Who’s the living person you’d most like to play? Unfortunately, I missed out on one. There was a beautiful biopic about Cesar Chavez, and I would have liked to play Dolores Huerta, who is still with us, thankfully. She was another leader in the movement and a great labor organizer. She unfortunately was overshadowed by the men, which happened so often with the sexism of that era. She was a co-founder of the National Farm Workers Association.
Historical figure you’d most like to play? I think I’d love to play the brilliant Puerto Rican poet Julia de Burgos. She wrote the most beautiful, powerful poetry. She was a fascinating woman. She spent a chunk of time in New York City and produced a body of absolutely exquisite work.
Is Taken what everyone’s going to be talking about on Tuesday mornings? Yes. Absolutely.
The lead-in of The Voice must’ve been a big boost. Absolutely. It’s fantastic. I’m a big fan of The Voice. It’s my favorite of all the contest shows. I’m always blown away by the talent that they find, and the judges have a really funny rapport. Talk about wiseass. I love watching them dish it out to each other. That show is great.
Book you’re reading right now? I’m reading James Baldwin’s Nobody Knows My Name. It’s unbelievably great and unbelievably, frighteningly timely and timeless. I read it and I’m underlining things. It feels like he lived through the past few years with us. It’s so current and relevant.
What’s your ultimate dream role? A couple of things. I’ve always wanted to do a significant spy role in something like a Bourne movie, a real transforming, multilingual thing. That would be fascinating. I’d also love to play a wiseass sidekick in a Guardians of the Galaxy-type thing. And a teacher. Our teachers are still largely unsung heroes, so to work on a meaningful film or series depicting the life of a teacher would be great.
Hair and Makeup: Kashmir / Viselli Salon; Styling: Julie Paquette / Anchor Artists; Location: The Revere Hotel