Netflix’s new action comedy series FUBAR follows a father and daughter who learn a surprising secret about each other: they’re both CIA spies. Fortunately, teaming up for a mission allows them to get to know each other like never before. One half of the father-daughter duo is immediately recognizable as one of the world’s biggest action heroes, but who plays Arnold Schwarzenegger’s daughter on FUBAR?
That would be Monica Barbaro — and before playing Emma Brunner on FUBAR, she starred in one of the biggest movies of all time, last summer’s Top Gun: Maverick. In the 2022 film, Barbaro played a young fighter pilot named Phoenix, who assists Tom Cruise’s titular Maverick on a harrowing mission. The role prepared her for FUBAR in more ways than one: holding her own alongside major action stars and portraying powerful women in traditionally male-dominated fields.
“What I love in [our characters’] generational divide is that I think we can learn so much from people who’ve lived longer lives,” Barbaro recently told Inverse of her FUBAR role. “I also think the older generation can be reminded to be open to change. Striking a balance is significant in the story, and I think for us in our lives in the way we work. We enjoy bickering and bantering, and I think our characters do the same.”
Beyond Barbaro’s latest action roles, you can spot her in TV series like Unreal, The Good Cop, and, most recently, the Paramount+ romantic comedy film At Midnight. The actor’s resume is a mix of just about every genre — and in an interview with The A.V. Club, she said that’s just how she likes it. “The back-and-forth between maybe doing something that’s more, I don’t know, classically masculine, and then doing something that’s more stereotypically feminine, I just get to do that dance a lot, which is really, really fun for me,” she said. “I would love to do a classic period piece after this. But I’m always just looking to do something different.”
Over on Instagram, Barbaro often shares behind-the-scenes filming snaps from the projects she works on, as well as her travels and recent, fashionable outings with Dior — including her first fashion show.
Interestingly, Barbaro might have had a very different career once upon a time. She studied dance at New York University, she revealed on BUILD, and was “shy” about pursuing acting. “It really started after I graduated,” she said. “I moved back to San Francisco, and started getting training, and doing student films, and things like that.”