It’s time to get excited about David Cronenberg’s upcoming “The Shrouds,” at least according to Diane Kruger.
“We just finished filming it. I think it might be his most personal film, because it talks about him and the passing of his wife.”
More from Variety
Kruger, starring alongside Vincent Cassel – cast as Karsh, an innovative businessman and grieving widower, who builds a device to connect with the dead – confirmed she will play multiple roles in the thriller.
“I was very emotional making it, because I knew it was so close to him and he was a little bit detached because of it. I could feel him being so vulnerable. I hope it’s going to be great,” she said at the Zurich Film Festival.
This year’s Golden Eye Award recipient, presenting “Visions” at the Swiss fest, Kruger also opened up about her beginnings. Growing up in Germany and dealing with a “not so happy home life,” she moved to Paris aged only 15, ready to pursue modelling.
“When I think about letting my own daughter go to Paris at 15, without a cellphone… Definitely not. But it was a different time and my situation at home wasn’t that great: my parents were splitting up and my mum was struggling.”
She discovered cinema soon after, securing one of her first roles alongside Dennis Hopper in “The Piano Player.”
“When I look back now, I realize how quickly things happened for me. I had zero experience in front of the camera. Dennis Hopper taught me the basics,” she said. But Wolfgang Petersen’s epic “Troy” was her true breakout.
“It was exhilarating, but it was a circus. The sets were huge, paparazzi were flying around in a helicopter, waiting for Brad Pitt. It was crazy! When the movie was coming out, the press in Germany was very, very tough on me. They found my father, whom I haven’t seen since I was 13. They made up stories. It was really harsh.”
By the time the film premiered in Cannes, she was feeling “very insecure and very sad.”
“I was thinking: ‘Is that what it’s going to be like, forever? I can’t deal with it.’ Brad could see I was upset. He came to my room and said: ‘I have heard some things and I want you to know that you are one of us now. Don’t let them get to you.’ He was so incredibly kind. It really changed a lot of things for me.”
She also recalled a difficult screen test for the film.
“The studio didn’t necessarily want to hire me. It was Wolfgang who fought for me. They thought I was too skinny, whatever. I had to fly to Hollywood for a screen test, they put me in a costume and tried to make me look ‘rounder.’ It was just one of these moments when you sit in an office full of older men who look you up and down. I felt like I was being presented in a way that wasn’t me at all.”
She advised aspiring actors to “work their butts off” during auditions, however, recalling another film that reunited her with Pitt later on.
“For ‘Inglorious Basterds,’ Tarantino didn’t want to hire me. He wrote it for someone else, he wanted someone ‘authentically German,’ which he thought I wasn’t,” she said.
“I had to fly to Germany on my own dime and he asked me to learn 15 pages of dialogue, in German and in English. It was incredibly hard and I had two days to prepare, but I knew I was right for the part. I came in and he said: ‘You can take your script.’ I replied: ‘I don’t need a script’.”
Admitting Tarantino “is very anal about his lines,” she had fond memories of the set.
“Once you are chosen, it’s like he loves you. You can’t do wrong and he will be there to support you. He sits right next to the camera and you feel him staring at you. He just loves actors and making movies.”
Successful also in France – where she played Marie Antoinette in “Farewell, My Queen,” directed by “amazing” Benoît Jacquot – Kruger compared it to the U.S. industry.
“Part of what this strike is about is that [the studios] are owned by big corporations and they are not really in a pursuit of artistic endeavor. It’s meant to be profitable and a director is someone you hire. It’s really the world of the producer, who is there to ensure the money is put on the screen. In France, the producer is helping to bring the director’s vision to life,” she noted.
“The artistic side of things, the writers, actors and studios are so far apart when it comes to what they are trying to make and what they think is worthwhile. Not just money, but also time and respect. The future of cinema, in America, is challenged right now.”
But despite her international career, the “role of a lifetime” came from native Germany, where she worked with Fatih Akin on “In the Fade.”
“I went to a party he was DJing and told him I would love to work with him. Which was pretty ballsy, because until then, his work was mostly about Turkish immigrants. I think he was a bit taken aback.”
When they finally met to discuss the script, she was afraid he would deem her as too “bourgeois.”
“I hate beer and I bought a six pack, I ripped my jeans, wore a wife beater and didn’t wash my hair for two days. I asked him: ‘You want beer?’ He said: ‘I hate beer. Do you have wine?,’” she laughed.
The role brought her the best actress award in Cannes. Now, the two might reunite on a series about German star Marlene Dietrich.
“It’s in the works. Now, we are debating if it should be a series or a movie,” she said. Admitting that the Zurich award, as well as the showreel spotlighting her roles, made her “emotional.”
“I said to myself: ‘Oh. I guess you have done a lot of work.’”
Best of Variety