Maran was born in Menlo Park, California. She is of Russian Jewish descent on her paternal side. Maran attended Castilleja School, an all-girls school in Palo Alto,
California from grades 6 to 12 then Signed at age 17 with the Elite modeling agency of Los Angeles, Maran appeared on her first cover with Glamour magazine in 1998;
she was then the featured Guess? Girl in their summer 1998 and fall 1998 campaigns.
n 2001, Maran appeared in an independent film, as title character Mallory in The Mallory Effect. Maran followed this by appearing as Susan in Swatters in 2002. In
2004, she appeared in three films - as a French model in Little Black Book, as one of Dracula's brides, Marishka, in Van Helsing, and briefly as a cigarette girl in
The Aviator. Maran appeared in a short film "The Confession" alongside Wentworth Miller in 2005, and as Kira Hayden in The Gravedancers in 2006.
She was recruited in 2005 by EA Games to appear as a main character in the street-racing computer and video game, Need for Speed: Most Wanted, which was released on
November 17, 2005. She plays the game's second lead Mia Townsend, who guides the lead character through the game.