Family & Companions
A multilingual, German-born actress who balanced film careers in France and Hollywood, Diane Kruger was unknown in the United States when she beat out A-listers Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman for the role of reluctant queen Helen of Troy in the blockbuster epic, "Troy" (2004). From launching a thousand ships with her face, this former model stayed in the realm of highly active films, including the popular thriller "Wicker Park" (2004) and the "National Treasure" adventure film franchise (2004, 2007), starring Nicolas Cage. While those films were high-profile blockbusters, Kruger's supporting roles were relatively underwritten and only her foreign-made titles offered the actress room to really develop a three-dimensional lead character. But in "Inglourious Basterds" (2009), Quentin Tarantino's World War II tale of revenge, Kruger's significant role as a double agent and German movie star finely showcased the actress' untapped capacity for tough, conniving intelligence, and proved to international audiences that there was much to explore underneath her ethereal beauty. Kruger followed up that international breakthrough with a starring role in crime drama "The Bridge" (FX 2013-14) and a starring role opposite Bryan Cranston in drug war thriller "The Infiltrator" (2016).
Kruger was born Diane Heidkrüger on July 15, 1976, in the small village of Hildesheim, Germany. She studied ballet as a child, moving to London at 11 years of age to study with the Royal Ballet. When a knee injury ended her dance career at age 13, she rebounded nicely by winning a national modeling competition and a contract with the Elite agency. Kruger became a top fashion model in Germany, working for such industry heavies as Armani and Christian Dior. Then director Luc Besson convinced the young Kruger to move to Paris to pursue acting, which she did. She made her film debut in the crime drama "The Piano Player" (2002), starring Christopher Lambert and Dennis Hopper, then appeared in the black comedy about a Jerry Springer-like talk show host, "Mon Idole" (2002), helmed by then-husband, Guillaume Canet. Kruger appeared in the indie "Ni Pour Ni Contra" ("Not For or Against") (2003), and went on to nab the female lead in "Michel Vaillant" (2003), a live-action adaptation of a popular 1950s French comic strip set at the famed Le Mans auto race.
Kruger's American film breakthrough came the following year with roles in three high-profile projects. In "Troy," Wolfgang Petersen's Trojan War epic starring Brad Pitt, Kruger was well cast as Helena, who is married off against her wishes to Menelaus, the king of Sparta, and spends much of her time brooding and weeping. The lavish film earned buzz for its extravagant budget, but more than earned back its production costs by raking in nearly $500 million dollars. Kruger next joined some of Hollywood's hottest twenty-somethings (Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne) in the steamy thriller "Wicker Park" (2004), and acted opposite Nicolas Cage in "National Treasure" (2004), as a historian who gets sucked into a treasure hunting adventure involving the Declaration of Independence. Kruger returned to Europe to star in French filmmaker Christian Carion's "Joyeux Noel" (2005), a film based on the true story of a holiday ceasefire during World War I, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Continuing to split her time between Europe and Hollywood, the fluent French-speaking Kruger starred in "Les Brigades du Tigre" (2006), about a specialty team of police officers fighting crime in early 20th century Paris. In "Copying Beethoven" (2006), Kruger played a music conservatory student who befriends the ailing composer (Ed Harris) in a fictionalized account of Beethoven's final years. That clichéd biopic was skewered by critics and followed by little-seen efforts "The Hunting Party" (2007) and the low budget horror film "Days of Darkness" (2007), before Kruger reprised her role as Dr. Abigail Chase in the blockbuster sequel, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" (2007). Following a starring role in the French-produced thriller "Pour Elle" ("Anything for Her") (2008), as a quiet-living woman shocked when she is squired away and charged with murder, Kruger was perfectly cast as a German femme fatale film star and double agent for the Allied forces in "Inglourious Basterds" (2009). Quentin Tarantino's World War II tale of a U.S. mission to take down the Third Reich garnered largely positive reviews, and for her substantial supporting role Kruger's profile was not only boosted, but she also earned a SAG award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. She was next seen with Jared Leto in French filmmaker Jaco van Dormael's love story, "Mr. Nobody" (2009). Kruger continued working steadily in European films, with starring roles in the sibling drama "Lily Sometimes" (2010), thrillers "Inhale" (2010) and "Unknown" (2011), and Afghanistan-set war drama "Special Forces" (2011). In the period drama "Farewell My Queen," she played Marie Antoinette. She returned to Hollywood with a key role in "The Host" (2013), a dystopian fantasy penned by Twilight author Stephenie Meyer, but the poorly-received film didn't score at the box office. She received considerably more critical acclaim as the star of "The Bridge" (FX 2013-14), an American remake of the Scandinavian police drama, in which she played autistic detective Sonya Cross, puzzling out the case of an anti-immigration judge found dead on the bridge between El Paso, TX and Juarez, Mexico. After that series ended following its second season, Kruger co-starred in the home-invasion thriller "Disorder" (2015) and romantic drama "Sky" (2015) before co-starring opposite Bryan Cranston in the true-crime cat and mouse tale "The Infiltrator" (2016), about the infiltration of a South American drug cartel.
Cast (Feature Film)
Made acting debut opposite Christopher Lambert and Dennis Hopper in indie feature "The Piano Player"
Featured in "Mon Idole," directed by then-husband Guillaume Canet
Starred in Luc Besson's "Michel Vaillant"
Starred as Helen the Queen of Sparta in Wolfgang Petersen's "Troy," an adaptation of Homer's great epic
Cast opposite Josh Hartnett and Rose Byrne in "Wicker Park"
Co-starred with Nicolas Cage in "National Treasure," produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Co-starred with Ed Harris in "Copying Beethoven"
Co-starred in "The Hunting Party" with Richard Gere and Terrence Howard
Portrayed the wife of Nelson Mandela's prison guard in "Goodbye Bafana," a drama based on James Gregory's book Goodbye Bafana: Nelson Mandela, My Prisoner, My Friend
Re-teamed with Nicolas Cage for sequel "National Treasure: Book of Secrets"
Played a German double agent in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds"
Portrayed Marie Antoinette in French drama "Farewell, My Queen"
Cast opposite Saoirse Ronan in sci-fi romance "The Host," adapted from novel by Stephenie Meyer