Diane Kruger's Royal Performance Pressure
By JARETT WIESELMAN
July 12, 2012
Diane Kruger's beauty and style have been praised since she first appeared in Troy, as the stunning woman whose face launched a thousand ships. But Kruger's physical perfection will be the last thing on audience's lips after experiencing Farewell, My Queen.
The film not only boasts Kruger's most sensational performance to date, but beautifully recreates the opulent world King Louis XVI lived in just prior to 1789's French Revolution. Kruger sat down with ETonline to discuss the pressures involved with playing Marie Antoinette, what it was like filming inside Versailles (where Marie actually lived) and why saying goodbye to the role was bittersweet.
ETonline: I can imagine a million reasons why you'd want to be a part of this film, but what was number one?
Diane Kruger: I never thought about playing Marie Antoinette – it's not been on my to-do list as an actor. But every once in a while, I feel like a part is offered to an actor at a very specific time in their life and I got chills when I read this script. I'm pretty much the same age Marie was when she was taken from Versailles. The movie opens on July 13 and I'm born July 15. My mother's name is Maria Theresa, same as hers. We arrived in France at the same age. There was something about it that made it feel so obvious I should play this part.
ETonline: Any hesitations on taking on such an iconic woman?
Kruger: It was very scary and the most challenging character I've ever done on a few levels. The character only appears in vignettes and she's never the same. Every scene is so different [because] she's a little borderline. Speech-wise, this is eighteenth century French. I speak French but I didn't study it in school. You can only compare it to Shakespearean English. There was a huge effort in that. I was scared because you better not screw up Marie Antoinette [laughs] – you'll never live that down. So I put myself under a tremendous amount of pressure.
ETonline: I was intrigued also because this is a story I was totally unaware of.
Kruger: I thought it was interesting to tell a story of this well-documented person from a point of view we hadn't seen. What I mostly loved about the script is that you see the women for once. It was a neutral observation of Marie Antoinette – often when you play a figure like that, most people have an opinion of her since they've judged her in one way or another. I wasn't interested in making another biopic of this character. I could relate to her on a human level and that was more interesting.
ETonline: What was it like actually filming in Versailles?
Kruger: Bizarrely I'm the person who filmed the least there because all the interiors had to be done somewhere else. I only shot three or four days at Versailles, while Lea [Seydoux, who plays Marie's reader Sidonie Laborde] was there so much more. We got lots of private tours, which was very fun.
ETonline: The costuming is rather lavish -- how much do aesthetic extravagances play into your performance?
Kruger: It's secondary but it's a big part of it. And that's not just restricted to clothes – it's also ear piercings, my hair color, changing weight. It's all part of the person you want to become. You try to pick the most obvious exterior things to help you create a visual character, but the interior is the most important.
ETonline: This is definitely the most intense performance I've seen from you -- was it tough to let go of Marie when filming wrapped?
Kruger: There's been movies where I'm sad when they're over and you don't get to be that person any more. There's also movies where I couldn't wait for them to be over [laughs]. But for Marie, I was relieved to let go of her because everything is so extreme. At the same time, I pretty much remember every line of dialogue I spoke in the movie. Which isn't always the case. I was so invested, I can tell you which take the editors used sometimes [laughs]
Farewell, My Queen opens July 13.