Diane Kruger (originally Diane Heidkrüger) was born in Lower Saxony, in Germany, on July 15 1976. Her early family life was not the easiest, as her father, a computer specialist and former cinema projectionist, struggled with alcoholism throughout her childhood, and went through an acrimonious divorce from her mother, a bank employee, when Kruger was 13. Following the divorce, she spent a lot of time looking after her younger brother while her mother worked to support the family. She was brought up Catholic, and attended a Catholic school.
She originally studied ballet with the Royal Ballet in London, England, but an injury put an end to a possible career as a ballerina. Following her time in London, she returned to Germany and was a successful model from 1992 to 1997, when she gradually moved away from modelling to concentrate on acting as a career, which she has pursued with great success. She is an accomplished linguist, fluent in German, French and English, and in 2013 she became an American citizen. She is currently in a relationship with Norman Reedus, her co-star in the film Sky (2015). They have a child together, a baby girl, who was born in November 2018.
Although Kruger initially trained with the Royal Ballet in London, an injury had already led her to pursue a second career in modelling by the age of fifteen. However by age twenty-two she had begun to find the life of a model unsatisfying, and having met Jean-Luc Besson, moved to Paris on his advice, and enrolled at the Cours Florent, an international drama school in the 19th arrondissement of Paris. In 2002 she won the Classe Libre award as the best actor of her year, and made her big-screen debut in the same year, alongside Dennis Hopper and Christopher Lambert in The Piano Player.
Kruger’s filmography is a fascinating mixture of German, French and English language films. She is probably best known for two major roles, as Helen of Troy in Wolfgang Petersen’s sweeping ‘swords and sandals’ epic, Troy (2004), and as Bridget von Hammersmark in Quentin Tarantino’s brutal World War Two film, Inglourious Basterds (2009). She also starred alongside Nicolas Cage in National Treasure (2004), and reprised her role in National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets (2007).
As well as these high profile, blockbuster roles, Kruger’s resume features a number of more artistic, creative credits, including Jaco van Dormael’s Mr Nobody (2009), Fatih Akin’s In The Fade (2017), and Benoit Jacquot’s Adieux à la Reine (2012).
Awards and achievements
Kruger’s acting roles have been consistently recognised throughout her career. She won the Chopard Trophy for Female Revelation at Cannes in 2003, at the very beginning of her career, and followed that up with awards from the Broadcast Film Critics Association, the San Diego Film Critics Association, and the Screen Actors Guild for Inglourious Basterds (she was also nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award for the same film by the Saturn Awards and the Online Film Critics Society). She won Best Actress at the Newport Beach Film Festival for Un Plan Parfait, and Best Actress at Cannes and at the Satellite Awards for In The Fade.