TIFF: Diane Kruger on Sexism in Hollywood and Working With Husband Joshua Jackson
By Valentina I. Valentini
Ever since she embodied Helen in Brad Pitt’s 2004, Troy, Diane Kruger has found a balance between beauty and strength in her
on-screen roles. She played the book smart archivist Dr. Abigail Chase in National Treasure, a stunning yet sly actress turned conspirator in Inglorious Basterds, and more recently,
a detective with Asperger syndrome in the FX series, The Bridge.
In her new film, Sky,
the 39-year-old actress is reuniting with her best friend and French filmmaker,
Fabienne Berthaud, with whom she has made two other films. Their third project
stars Kruger as Romy, a woman finally fed up with her drifting marriage and
ready to move through a new world on her own terms. While on her aimless travels through the southwestern
states, she encounters costars Norman Reedus, Lena Dunham, and her husband, Joshua Jackson.
While at the Toronto Film Festival to promote the film’s
premiere, Kruger sat down with ETonline to discuss the problems women face in
Hollywood, working with her husband, and bonding with Dunham.
ETonline: There are
two moments that stick out in Sky. First,
when Romy fights back against her husband’s attempted rape, and second, how she
finds strength, not just in herself as the story moves along, but in other
Diane Kruger: I
don’t know that Fabienne was out to make a feminist view about finding strength
in other women, but I love the idea that violence -- in French, it’s déclencher
[to release, set off, activate] -- it’s the thing that makes her want to change
her life. She was kind of idle. This horrific, violent assault made her realize
there is no way back. I think that’s very true in real life -- not necessarily
assault -- but something that gives you the déclencher. The point of departure
for her comes out of violence, but I love the idea of not knowing what she’s
going to do, where’s she’s going and that openness. Although Norman Reedus’
character is a man, I think it’s so random. After leaving her husband, the
furthest thing from her mind is to be in another love story. But that’s how
life works. You find love when you least expect it and with the person you
least expect to fall in love with.
What was one of the
things you really grabbed on to about this script?
I’ve developed this character for four years with Fabienne.
We are best friends, and we had this idea four years ago, so I’ve been a part
of this process. I’ve read about 10 versions of the script. Her movies are very
simplistic, but she’s not an intellectual. She’ll be the first one to say that.
She makes movies about people and about emotions and her scripts are very much
a reflection of that. Random slices of life. Some people may criticize Sky, but that’s life. That’s how it
happens. She’s not interested in making a feminist stance on what a woman should
Well, the term “strong
woman,” it’s been in the zeitgeist recently. But women are weak as well.
They’re complex and weak, you are and I am, and so is this character.
Well, good. Now to
the important stuff: What’s your favorite Lena Dunham project?
Well, I love her show, for sure. I don’t think there is
something I don’t like. And she just
started The Lenny Letters. She loves other women.
What’s it like
working with her?
I met her at a party. She’s really easy to talk to -- she’s
a cinephile and loves French films. When we were casting, I emailed her and
asked her if she wanted to be in a French arthouse film. We didn’t even have to
talk to an agent, she was on board.
Lena's been very
vocal about the shortcomings in Hollywood for women. What's your take on being
an actress in Hollywood?
It’s terrible. It really is. We have to have events like
“Women in Hollywood.” I think there’s a real opportunity for us to prosper.
There are great parts for women in television, and we can create it for ourselves
with so many outlets and platforms. It’s hard though. Even if you come to work
and have something to say, as a woman, you’re being labeled as difficult or
being a diva, whereas a man might be interesting and a great actor and into
Have you experienced
ageism or sexism?
Sexism -- all the time. I’ve never been paid what my male
costar was paid in America.
No, not this film. I didn’t get paid in this film at all. I
don’t think anyone was paid on this.
Well, as long as it
Right. Nobody got paid anything! But yes, it seems to be
general practice that a man can be 60 and have a 25-year-old co-star, yet the
other way around, it doesn’t happen. I would do a project that made sense. It
doesn’t make sense that an aging 55-year-old movie star is OK to have a
25-year-old ingénue in a movie. I’m surprised people don’t find it more
outrageous than it is.
How do you feel about
onscreen nudity? Did you talk to Lena about it, someone who’s gotten a lot of
criticism for her nudity on Girls.
She’s gotten that criticism because she’s not a skinny
model. That’s where the sexism comes in. If that character was super skinny and
beautiful like on Game of Thrones,
nobody seems to make a big deal about it on that show. I don’t have a problem
with nudity if the part requires it. In this movie, how do you do all these
love scenes if you’re all covered up?
Although, I saw more
of your body than of Reedus’ body.
That’s because he’s very restricted by [his Walking Dead contract].
Are there any
directors who are good about showcasing women in Hollywood?
Michael Haneke (The
White Ribbon, Amour), for one. I
think there are a ton of great directors; I think it’s the scripts that are not
good for women.
How did your husband,
Joshua Jackson, end up in the film?
Well, he’s an actor, and we were looking for actors for
free. So I was like, “Hey, want to be the policeman?” I was worried about
having chemistry with him, because we’re not supposed to have chemistry. But
when he stepped out of the trailer, I knew we were OK. He’d been growing this
beard for about three months and then shaved it off for the mustache. I told
him he had to shave it off before he came home!