Glass meets the legendary actor Diane Kruger

Glass meets the legendary Diane Kruger, fashion darling, Hollywood icon and doyenne of world cinema to discuss her biggest role yet, motherhood

Diane Kruger. Photograph: Ssam Kim

DIANE Kruger’s illustrious career has spanned three disciplines (dancing, modelling and acting), three languages, (she has played roles in German, French and English) and three decades. Yet she continues to defy expectations as she delivers deeper performances, conquers new genres and now finds herself juggling a busy production schedule with being a new mum.

Born in Germany in 1976, Kruger dreamt of becoming a ballerina and successfully auditioned for the Royal Ballet in London as a teenager, but injury soon put paid to her ambitions. At 16 she entered the prestigious Elite Model Look competition, which has launched the careers of the likes of Helena Christensen and Alessandra Ambrosio. After taking first place, Kruger went on to model for a string of global brands and even snapped up some of the most coveted fragrance campaigns of the decade. But after becoming frustrated with the impossibly high pressures put on women by the fashion industry she quit, much to the shock of her agents.

Diane Kruger. Photograph: Ssam Kim

After enrolling in the esteemed Cours Florent acting school in Paris she soon started to gain the attention of prestigious directors. Since then she has worked with the biggest names in Hollywood and international cinema, and continues to push the boundaries with her choice of roles

It is mid-October and production is finally back up-and-running after the Covid-19 lockdown. “It’s great to be back at work,” says Kruger. “But it’s also strange. My daughter’s like ‘where are you going?’ after we’ve been together every day for six months. It’s bittersweet, but it’s lovely as well.”

Diane Kruger. Photograph: Ssam Kim

How old is your daughter now?
She’s two.

After you had her, your production schedule was incredibly busy. During lockdown it must have been nice to have some family time together?
Yeah, that’s all we’ve been doing. We came out here to Los Angeles in early February. We got shut down halfway through production and we didn’t really know what to do – whether to go back to New York [where Kruger lives with her daughter and partner Norman Reedus, star of The Walking Dead] or just be out here. And my partner got shut down as well. So the three of us are together here. And it’s been kind of great because California has the weather. It’s been a rather pleasant experience, though of course it’s a very strange time.

What does a daily schedule look like for you when you’re in full swing?
It’s very long hours. A typical day is, like, 14 hours all in – travel time, getting ready, lunch. It’s a bit of a juggling act with my daughter and making time to see her. It’s very tiring because I feel like I’m doing two jobs. I have to get up before she gets up. I try to come home during my lunch break, or I try to have her come to the set. As soon as I’m done, I’m rushing home. If I can I get up early – even if I worked late the night before – I’ll get up at six o’clock so I can see her before I go to work again. So being in production as a mum is very tiring for sure. It’s like burning the candle at both ends.

Production is for two months or three months, and usually in a long movie you don’t work every day. But as a mum you never get a day off. On the weekends, I don’t have a nanny and then it’s full-on mum time. Keeping a toddler entertained, you need a lot of energy.

Diane Kruger. Photograph: Ssam Kim


Everything. It’s kind of a miracle. I didn’t know how much I was going to love it until it happened. It’s so fun, so rewarding to see that little face every day, and pure joy [to be able to] live life again through her eyes. You know, it’s amazing – you can blow someone’s mind by giving them ice cream for the first time. It’s like every day is something new. It’s just the best thing I’ve ever done, for sure.

Your next film, The 355, seems like the first serious all-female action movie. Do you feel that Hollywood is entering a more feminist era?

It definitely feels like the tide is moving that way a little bit. I know that a lot of studios and streaming services are looking for female directors and female-centric storylines. So it does feel like Hollywood is at least trying to be more diverse. That’s why I’m really excited about this film and loved being part of it. And Jessica (Chastain) my co-star is a huge inspiration for me. She practices what she preaches. She said, “I’m not going to be part of this movie if we don’t get all paid the same”; she has a real sense of female camaraderie. The atmosphere on set was great because of that. Everybody feels valued and everybody feels taken seriously.

It’s probably one of the best experiences on a movie set that I’ve ever had. It was fun and very physical. And that was my first movie back after having the baby. So, for many reasons, it was great. I also really liked being with women – I never really get to work with women. I’m usually the girl in a movie surrounded by men.

Diane Kruger. Photograph: Ssam Kim

In The 355, you are co-starring with the most outstanding actresses of your generation – Chastain, Lupita Nyongo’o, Penelope Cruz, Fan Bingbing. Did it feel like the ultimate seal of approval from Hollywood when you were picked for this ensemble? 

It’s not so much the approval of Hollywood because Hollywood has their own criteria of why you get cast – your value at the box office, what sells. I don’t think actors have that same way of measuring each other up. It just so happened that when I won the Palme d’Or at Cannes film festival three years ago [for best actress In The Fade, her first and only German language film], Jessica and Bingbing were on the jury … it was a very natural way of getting cast. And I’ve known these girls forever. It felt more like making a movie with friends. I don’t know if I would have been cast if, say, Universal had just bought the picture. This was Jessica’s baby.

The training for your roles sounds fascinating – and terrifying, such as when you trained with Mossad and had to pass real-life tests like travelling through airport passport control with a fake passport.

Yes, some roles demand more preparation than others. The Mossad thing [for her role in The Operative], was something that was set up for me by the producers and the director because they were all Israeli. They allowed me to spend 10 days with Mossad personnel to get an idea.

For In The Fade, it took me six months to prepare. You want to create for yourself, or with a director, a backstory to any character. Even if you’re on screen for just a couple of scenes. Even if it’s not on screen, it’s in your head, and so many things change for you, how you deliver a line for example. It informs who you are, why you are in this particular moment in the script, or in the film. And usually that work can be done with your director and can create a really intimate moment of connection. Because it’s like your little background story that nobody gets to see – but you both know about. I love that process of just spending time with the director and creating that.

Diane Kruger. Photograph: Ssam Kim

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
The thing with advice is you can only look back and realise it was good advice later. In the moment, you never think “oh sure”. It’s better to just relax, let it come to you, don’t chase it too hard. I don’t mean success; I mean a scene or an emotion. I think I would have loved to trust myself a little bit more when I was younger and not be so concerned about other people’s opinion of me of what I can or can’t do. I’ve definitely mellowed. There are still all those things but it’s not the end of the world anymore.

Maybe becoming a mum puts things into perspective as well. I get to access my emotions much more easily than I did before. I feel like I’m much more in tune with the now than I was before. You always project yourself into the future when you’re younger. I feel like I get to live much more in the now because I don’t want to be somewhere else, but here right now.

 By Nicola Kavanagh

Photographer SSAM KIM





Photography assistant MATTHEW MAFFEI

Styling assistant ALECIA LEWIS

Producer WINDY S LEE