In the thriller “In the Fade” by Hamburg-born and -based director Fatih Akin, Diane Kruger depicts a German mother called Katja, whose Kurdish husband and five-year-old son are killed by a bomb planted by neo-Nazis. It was actually the German-American actress’s first German-language role; she won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival for her performance.
She left home at the age of 15 in search of broader horizons. Diane Kruger’s hometown of Algermissen, close to the north-central city of Hildesheim, had grown too small for the teenager. Born on July 15, 1976 to a banking clerk and a computer specialist, the wannabe dancer left for Paris, where she started a career as a model. She graced the covers of “Vogue” and “Elle.”
From model to actress
In 2000, the young Kruger switched careers, taking classes at an acting school in the French capital. Her perfect French language skills later helped her to land important roles in independent films, including several under director Fabienne Berthaud.
At the end of her studies, Kruger acted in several shorts, including “The Piano Player,” a short which saw her sharing a set with Christopher Lambert and Dennis Hopper.The thriller “Wicker Park,” released in 2004, was her first role in an international production. For the role, however, she shortened her birth name, as Heidkrüger proved too complicated for tongues in Hollywood. Ever since, she’s been known as Diane Kruger.
A short while later, she made her Hollywood debut, finding her way to the head of a pack of nearly 3,000 competitors for the role of Helena in Wolfgang Petersen’s “Troy.”
Although she now lives in Hollywood, Kruger continues to take part in smaller European productions. In the European co-production “Merry Christmas,” she appears alongside German actors Benno Fürmann and Daniel Brühl. For the role, which cast her as a singer on a World War I front, she even took private singing lessons.
A sought-after jury member
One role that gained lots of international attention was Kruger’s appearance in Quentin Tarantino’s Nazi drama, “Inglorious Basterds.” In it, she played a German playing a risky game of chance, a woman adored by the Nazis but spying for the Americans.
She gained critical acclaim with the role, and was asked to be a jury member at film festivals in Cannes and Venice. In 2017 she took on her first real German-speaking role for Fatih Akin with the film “In the Fade” – and promptly took home the Best Actress award from Cannes.
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