Living between the City of Lights and the City of Angels, Diane Kruger has become the small screen’s most fashionable leading lady.
By the time Diane Kruger arrives at the Sunset Tower terrace, she has already paid a mind-numbing visit to the DMV. But if there’s any lingering irritation, it doesn’t show. Fortunately, for the sake of our meeting, she passed her driving test and has just rewarded herself with a pedicure in West Hollywood—a pretty burgundy to match the Mary Katrantzou dress she’ll wear to the FX party at Soho House later in the evening.
“I was pulled over for speeding at 2 a.m., coming from work in Long Beach,” she exclaims, as if she’s presenting in front of a jury—yet still wearing green salon flip flops. “I have a French license because I live part time in France. I also had all this bruised makeup on because we were shooting a car crash, and the cop looked at me and was like [adjusting to masculine officer voice], ‘Have you been drinking?’” She takes a bite of her lobster taco and continues, “I was trying to charm him. I said, ‘I play a cop on this show…’ and he’s like, ‘Yeah whatever, not happening.’”
Perhaps Officer Friendly had missed the first three episodes of “The Bridge” on FX. Kruger, 37, does indeed play a very dedicated member of the force, even though Detective Sonya Cross suffers from a not-so-subtle form of Asperger’s Syndrome. Mentally unstable and fighting homicide along the Texas-Mexico border is not the most obvious place for a former model from Germany to end up, but it’s incredibly captivating. (Imagine Carrie Mathison of “Homeland” fighting immigration instead of terrorism on primetime television every Wednesday evening.) Even though she claims her Spanish is “horrible,” after 30 films (most notably Troy, 2004, and Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds, 2009), Kruger’s small screen breakout seems like a natural fit. “The pace of it is so much faster. Coming from movies sometimes, I’m just like, ‘No, you have to get this right, you need to spend time, I don’t care how long we’re here tonight.’”
That’s not to say this is Kruger’s first time on television. In 2010, she appeared in an episode of “Fringe” opposite Joshua Jackson, her partner of seven years (and counting). He was the star of the drama, which concluded its final season in January of this year. Throughout its filming in Vancouver—where Jackson and Kruger have lived on and off from 2008 to 2013—Kruger would jet back and forth between shooting French films (Farewell, My Queen; Un Plan Parfait; Me, Myself and Mum) and various Hollywood projects (including The Green Blade Rises, a forthcoming biopic of Abraham Lincoln’s early life). Of her relocation to California last winter, “This is the first time in five years that we are in the same place,” she says.
Part of the reason she accepted the part on “The Bridge” was because it films in L.A. Here, Simi Valley doubles as the dusty outskirts of El Paso. The dangerous Juarez slums? Our very own Downtown L.A. And while this may not be her only home, it’s very familiar territory. Jackson bought his family property in Topanga Canyon, which the couple uses as a weekend retreat from their home in Beachwood Canyon. It has been a peaceful nesting period—that is, until last week, when the paparazzi staked out the city house and chased her down the street. “I’m crying, and Josh keeps telling me to go to the police station and tell them there are people following me,” she says, still a little nonplussed. “It must be the show, I don’t know what else it would be. It’s not like I changed anything. It’s not like we have a very exciting life.”
The latter is arguable, but it’s true that she has been able to fly reasonably under the radar considering a) how striking her bone structure is in person; and b) the snapping frenzy that occurs every time she steps onto a red carpet. Kruger doesn’t like to go out except for fashion and work events. Hollywood parties? “He [Jackson] hates going to shit like that.” She even missed the most recent Paris Fashion Week to film the indie Midnight Sun, in New Mexico, with Jesse Eisenberg and Emily Hirsch. She informs that precisely “5/6th” of her friends are not in the industry (one count for Karl Lagerfeld). Her 20-year-plus relationship with Chanel is also an anomaly. This fall, she stars as the face of their new beauty campaign shot by Peter Lindbergh. Lagerfeld attests from his office in Paris, “I have known Diane for a long time. She doesn’t have a stylist, so I deal directly with her. She knows exactly what she wants and what fits her.” The fellow Germans are also neighbors in Paris. Lagerfeld adds, “We share a deep understanding of each other.”
Today, in a faded leopard sweatshirt dress from Topshop with her hair in a simple bun, she also wears a few rings, including a thin diamond band on her fourth finger, which she’s quick to point out is not an engagement ring. Since her 2006 divorce from French actor/director Guillaume Canet, she has resisted the idea. “What’s important is the commitment. It’s not the size of the ring your wear on your finger. You know, I don’t place particular importance on that, but I would love a nice gift!”
What is important is Paris. “It’s part of the deal. I come with Paris, there’s no negotiating that,” she says. She first moved to the city when she was 16 to model and purchased her apartment in the 7th Arrondissement eight years ago. On whether she’ll start a family there:
“Yeah, I know it. I see myself raising kids there. I would love that, having little French babies in Bonpoint.” The couple will return to the City of Lights when she wraps the first season of “The Bridge” at end of summer and, “We’ll see. It happens when it happens.”
Until the style spawn arrives, Kruger is nurturing another side project. A few years ago, she purchased the rights to the story of Hedy Lamarr, an Austro-American actress and mathematician. She is perhaps equally famous for being the first woman to bare her chest on screen (Ecstasy, 1933) as she is for patenting a “Secret Communication System” to detect enemy torpedoes and bombs. (The idea behind this technology would evolve into the foundation for Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.) Kruger has the “Boardwalk Empire” producers on the project and is working on finding a Hollywood studio home for it.
Putting down roots across the globe is something Kruger is embracing—and a commute between Charles de Gaulle and LAX seems to be perfectly suitable for the time being—with or without un bébé. To make the transition easier between her two homes, she also just purchased a Vespa like the vintage one she has in Paris—a reminder of her European roots that will certainly avert future speeding tickets.
Written by Kelsey McKinnon
Photographed by Matthias Vriens-McGrath