‘The Shrouds’ Star Diane Kruger Says European Cinema Saved Her Career

‘The Shrouds’ Star Diane Kruger Says European Cinema Saved Her Career

Actress Diane Kruger first broke out in a big way as Helen of Troy in the 2004 epic “Troy,” but she worried Hollywood didn’t know what to do with her — and that’s when Europe stepped in.

“I’ve always loved acting, but it wasn’t easy in the beginning. A lot of people were like, ‘OK, so she’s Helen of Troy, where do you go from there?’ It’s really European cinema that saved my career,” the actress told TheWrap at the Cannes Film Festival as part of TheWrap Conversations at the Brand Innovators Salon D’Affaires.

She said the 2017 German drama “In the Fade” not only allowed her to show a different side of herself as a performer, but won her a very intimate role in David Cronenberg‘s new film “The Shrouds.”

“I think people have seen me in different lights — including ‘In the Fade,’ that would have been a film, if it was in English or an American film, I’m not sure they would have come knocking on my door. It’s always been allowing me to show a different side of me. I know for David, that’s the movie he watched and called me because of that.”

“The Shrouds” premiered in competition at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday, and ahead of its debut, Kruger told TheWrap that getting to essentially play the director’s late wife onscreen was a flattering “dream come true,” but also a lot of responsibility since he allowed her to “enter a very intimate space.”

“He didn’t make movies for a very long time,” Kruger noted of the gap between Cronenberg’s “Maps to the Stars” (2014) and “Crimes of the Future” (2022). “I’m assuming because of that, cause he accompanied his wife throughout her sickness and her death.”

Cronenberg’s late wife Carolyn Zeifman died in 2017 after 43 years of marriage.

Additionally, the festival’s 2003 Trophée Chopard recipient and 2017 Best Actress Award winner plays not one but three characters in the extremely personal film. “The Shrouds” also stars Vincent Cassel and Guy Pearce and was initially envisioned as a series for Netflix, with Kruger replacing fellow Cannes favorite Léa Seydoux along the way.

Kruger sat down with TheWrap founder and editor-in-chief Sharon Waxman for an in-depth interview on Sunday ahead of the film’s premiere. Read on for their full discussion as part of TheWrap Conversations at the Brand Innovators Salon D’Affaires, below:

Tell us about bringing “The Shrouds” to Cannes with such an iconic director as David Cronenberg.

It is a dream come true. I think when you are in the industry, David Cronenberg is like winning the lottery. I was incredibly flattered that he came to me and wanted me in his movie. It’s a very personal film for David, it’s semi-autobiographical. So Vincent Cassel is Cronenberg in the film and I play three characters in the movie — one being his wife who is dying of cancer, the sister and an avatar that Vincent creates in his late wife’s honor. It’s an emotional film for me because I feel like I was allowed to enter a very intimate space for this filmmaker. I’m a little nervous about tomorrow.

How did Cronenberg come to cast you?

Last year in Cannes, it was announced that Léa Seydoux and Vincent Cassel were going to star in his next film, and then somehow along the way Léa dropped out and he called. Literally, I was in Paris working on a French film with Vincent and he sent me the script … I didn’t know at that point that the script was actually about his personal life. That came as a shock to me. When we sat down, I said, ‘It’s a very emotional script,’ and he proceeded to tell me what was accurate, what was based on true events. It made me a little bit anxious all of a sudden, to be playing his wife.

He didn’t make movies for a very long time, I’m assuming because of that, cause he accompanied his wife throughout her sickness and her death.

Did he introduce the story to you in that way? “This is the most personal film I’m going to make, and I trust this to you?”

I’m incredibly flattered, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. He did not want to put that on me, he was quite detached at times from me and the film … I could feel him relive a lot of that stuff, and that’s an awkward space for me. I was kind of tiptoe-ing, he kind of just disappeared a little bit.

He’s doesn’t do any table reads, he doesn’t rehearse, he talks to you beforehand. He’s one of those directors, a little bit like Quentin Tarantino, if I had met him earlier on in my career, I’m not sure I could have handled that level of, “Go. You’re on.”

So he’s not taking you to dinner for 10 hours and telling you his deepest, darkest thoughts. He said, “Do your job.”

There comes a lot of liberty, but at the same time — he directed us — but there’s an expectation of, you need to know your lines, every single word. He’s precious with his words, as he should be, because he wrote it. But there’s no improv, you’re on.

What did this raise in you, in terms of thinking about mortality and getting older?

For what I do, it’s good to age, because you bring so much more empathy and experience to a role. A role like this might not have been so deep for me maybe 10 years ago. You’re closer to your own mortality in a certain way, but also you’ve loved and you’ve lost and you’ve been in long-term relationships.

Cronenberg himself is 81 years old at this point. We are living longer and much more vigorous. Do you think about that? We’re able to do more in our lives.

There’s a certain assuredness with him. His work ethic is awesome, he doesn’t want to work before 9. Fine by me, I don’t have to get up early, I love that. Some takes he knows exactly what he wants, some takes can be a oner. I really appreciate that he knows what he wants. I think he pushes boundaries because his films and his mind is just so different. And it’s his, he doesn’t share much. He’s a pretty normal guy when you meet him, but when you watch his movies, you know there’s a lot going on up there.

Have you done everything that you want to do with acting? Are you getting to do the parts now that you’d like to be doing?

I think they’re coming more to me now than they were when I was younger. I don’t know why, maybe there’s more outlets with streamers and different possibilities. I think I have a lot more to say. I’ve always loved acting, but it wasn’t easy in the beginning. A lot of people were like, ‘OK, so she’s Helen of Troy, where do you go from there?’ It’s really European cinema that saved my career. I think people have seen me in different lights — including “In the Fade,” that would have been a film, if it was in English or an American film, I’m not sure they would have come knocking on my door. It’s always been allowing me to show a different side of me. I know for David, that’s the movie he watched and called me because of that.

Is European cinema more forgiving?

I don’t know if it’s forgiving. American cinema, in my experience, has been very much: you are in a movie; if it does well, you get another shot; if it doesn’t do well, there’s 15 other people lined up behind you. It’s just a different system, I don’t want to say it’s better or it’s worse. It’s not so actor-driven anymore. You have the box office stars, and they get to do what they want to do, and then the kind of movies like the Cronenbergs, they’re not getting made in America. Very few.

Is there a dream role that you’ve always wanted to do?

I’m still dreaming about Marlene Dietrich, which has been the hardest project in my life to ever try and put together. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ve always loved her, not just for the movie star that she was, but obviously being German myself. That’s still a project that’s in the works. We’ve had scripts, we had a show — it’s all written. Covid happened, it’s an extremely expensive show to make, as you can imagine. We had a director, everything. A lot of streamers were very cautious after Covid, it’s a $50 million project.

Watch the full video interview, below.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

The post ‘The Shrouds’ Star Diane Kruger Says European Cinema Saved Her Career | Video appeared first on TheWrap.

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