'People see me as Helen of Troy:' Diane Kruger goes on a neo nazi hunt in Into the Fade
As In the Fade had its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival a year ago, a suicide bomber walked into Manchester Arena and murdered 22 people attending an Arianna Grande concert.
Diane Kruger says that she “didn’t sleep” for a couple of nights afterwards, because she had just spent months devoting herself to In the Fade – the story of a German woman who loses her Turkish husband and their young son to neo Nazi bombers.
Diane is the best she’s ever been in this role – she was awarded the Best Actress prize from Cannes. And director Fatih Akin, the son of Turkish immigrants in Germany, picked up the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language film. None of the rewards made the film any the less harrowing, she says, pointing out, “I’m still not quite over it. I couldn’t even take much work after we wrapped. Not for a while.” And after Manchester, she says “I just kept thinking of all the people who had been left behind.”
"I met Fatih Akin at Cannes about five years ago and I remember seeking him out and saying to him ‘I love your film and if you ever want to work with me I would love that.’ That was nerve wracking to do."
In the Fade deals with her character, Katja, and what she goes through when she loses her family in an afternoon – and her fight for justice.
“I don’t have children yet,” Kruger says, “ but I met many people who lost a child or family members in a situation such as this, and learned about the steps of grief and how to live on after something like that. Very rarely do we follow the experience of someone who has to live on after a death and how do you do that, especially when in her case justice is not done, these people live on. I don’t know how you’d go on and when you speak to families it’s harrowing, their grief is just so unbearably heavy.”
“He talked to me about the role but I knew that he was hesitant. "
Diane Kruger is Germany’s most successful commercial export to Hollywood; she starred in 2004’s Troy as Helen and was Oscar nominated for her role in Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, but she’s been waiting for a project in Germany, she explains, “for about five years. And this was a gift. I met Fatih Akin at Cannes about five years ago and I remember seeking him out and saying to him ‘I love your film and if you ever want to work with me I would love that.’
‘That was nerve wracking to do,” she adds. “But he did remember and he got in touch with me about this. I do realise what I’ve been given in terms of this role as an actor; I was completely physically and emotionally challenged.
“I don’t think he was sure,” she goes on. “He talked to me about the role but I knew that he was hesitant. Ultimately though I do know he wanted to work with me. I know people see me as a bit glamorous, on red carpets, or as Helen of Troy or a movie star in Inglorious Basterds, that kind of thing. So when I first read the script of In the Fade, I was like, ‘how did you even think of me for this?’
“But we prepped together for months, I never worked so hard in my life prepping for a part. And it’s all worked out – we want to look at working on something together again, perhaps a project to do with Marlene Dietrich.”
“I love acting in French and English so there’s not a language where I am more at ease,. But I hope for more projects in Germany. The minute I was living in Germany again I felt I knew who Katja was."
Kruger, who was born near Hildesheim in Germany, could have been a ballerina (she had to pull out of ballet school due to injury) and she was a successful model. She’s fluent enough to act in English, French and German – her first films were in French. When she chose to act, she won the ‘most promising’ award at her school. Few actors – including fellow German Daniel Bruhl and Penelope Cruz ( who made a film in Italian) have the ability to work in three languages.
“I love acting in French and English so there’s not a language where I am more at ease,” she says. “But I hope for more projects in Germany. The minute I was living in Germany again I felt I knew who Katja was. There’s an understanding I don’t have to learn, I grew up with girls like her, and I certainly understand about the Turkish community in Germany and the prejudice they face.
“It’s a horribly right time for this film,” she adds soberly.” It’s not just the Turkish community. In New York where I live people get spat at and shouted at for wearing a headscarf, or really frankly, for not being white. People are on edge.”
In the Fade is released in the UK in cinemas and on demand on June 22 2018