The sun-kissed beaches and crystal blue waters of the California coast might make Palos Verdes seem picture perfect, but for Medina (Maika Monroe), it’s the place where her seemingly happy family falls apart. In The Tribes of Palos Verdes, directed by Brendan and Emmett Malloy, Medina’s mother (Jennifer Garner) spirals into an emotional free-fall as her marriage disintegrates and her twin brother (Cody Fern) turns to drugs while Medina must find her own inner strength, just to survive it all.
During the film’s L.A. press day, Collider got on the phone with Maika Monroe to talk about why she felt such a strong connection to Medina, understanding her character’s love of surfing, forming a family bond, and why she hopes her character can be inspirational for others. She also talked about the impact that The Guest and It Follows had on her, and her upcoming films The Widow and Tau.
MAIKA MONROE: I fought for this role. I was sent the script, and it was incredibly close to me and close to my upbringing. I just felt a connection to it that I hadn’t really ever felt with another script. So, I went and auditioned and talked to the directors (Brendan & Emmett Malloy). I remember sending emails saying, “I need to do this!”
What was it about Medina, as a character, that made you want to be a part of it?
MONROE: I grew up in Santa Barbara, which can be seen as being very similar to Palos Verdes. I grew up in a very small little home, up in the foothills, with my mom and dad, and I went to a high school where there were a lot of kids that came from extreme wealth. You’d go to people’s homes to hang out or to parties, and they’d live in these huge mansions. Santa Barbara is a beautiful little world, in this bubble, and in high school, it was hard to find people that really understood me. Very similar to Medina, my dad taught me how to kiteboard when I was 13. I’d finish school, and then I’d go to the beach. For me, that was an escape. It was a place where I wasn’t thinking about what happened that day, or what was going on with my family or friends. The script made me feel a way that I’ve never really felt, reading a script, just ‘cause it was so close.
Why kiteboarding, as opposed to regular surfing?
MONROE: Both of my parents were windsurfers. My mom taught it, back in college. They taught me windsurfing, when I was about 10 or 11. Kiteboarding is a very new sport. My dad and some of his friends were like, “Come on, we’ve gotta try kiteboarding!” So, he started learning and we’d take trips for him to kite. I was like, “You’ve gotta teach me!” There were no other girls doing it, and I wanted to be the girl on the beach who was kiteboarding. My mom was not a fan of the idea, but we warmed her up to it.