It’s early evening on a cool spring day when Diane Kruger wanders into the orangerie at the Palace of Versailles. The room is vast, easily over 100 metres long and with a soaring arched ceiling, but the German actress seems right at home in the opulent surroundings. “I was lucky enough to play Marie Antoinette in a movie, so I actually got to live in my house,” Kruger says with a smile. “It’s a very special place for me, Versailles. I’ve done many photo shoots, including for Martell, here.”
Martell is the reason that we’re both here tonight. The cognac house is celebrating its 300th anniversary, so has taken over the Palace of Versailles for a lavish birthday bash. Kruger is acting as co-host for the evening, having recently been announced an ambassador for the brand, and gamely welcomes everyone with a short speech before joining the suited-and-booted guests at the bar.
This glamorous party is just the latest event in a busy few weeks for Kruger. She’s come straight to Versailles from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, where one of her films, Disorder, had its international premiere. “It was so great because I’ve been away making a show in the US for two years, so I haven’t really done many movies because I’ve been busy,” Kruger says. “This movie was the very first one that I did coming back [to Europe]. It’s a French film, so it was super exciting to be back in Cannes. I’m very proud.”
In Disorder, Kruger explains, “I’m the wife of a very wealthy Lebanese guy and Matthias Schoenaerts plays a soldier who has just come back from Afghanistan and has post-traumatic stress syndrome. He gets hired to protect me and my child, and shit happens.” Kruger has appeared in several thrillers before this, though the genre-hopping actress has also racked up credits in a blockbuster franchise (the National Treasure series), a biopic (Farewell, My Queen), a TV series (The Bridge), a science-fiction drama (The Host) and a classic Quentin Tarantino blood-and-gore fest (Inglourious Basterds), among others.
Kruger is also quietly starting to venture behind the camera, and took on the role of co-producer on the upcoming film Sky, which is slated for release in 2016. “I’ve helped friends make movies but I’ve never had a credit put in, so this is the first official time,” Kruger reveals. “Sky is with a female director called Fabienne Berthaud – it’s her first English language piece. It’s about a French couple that comes to the US on holiday to try and save their marriage and it doesn’t work out so well.”
Gilles Lelouche and Kruger play the married couple, and it was recently confirmed that Girls star Lena Dunham will also appear in the film. “Lena and I share an agent in LA and I ran into her at a party or one of those [industry] things and I introduced myself and she was so lovely and we were just talking and we had such a great instant connection,” Kruger enthuses. “Then I was producing Sky, this is like six months later, and I was like ‘Wow, you know, Lena would be so great in this.’ And I just emailed her personally and said, ‘Have you ever wanted to be in a French arthouse film? You can say no! I totally get it.’ And she immediately responded and said, ‘Actually, I’d love that.’ And it was so easy, and that never happens in LA.”
Kruger seems to have caught the producing bug, admitting, “I’m producing right now – I’m trying to produce a mini-series about Hedy Lamarr. [American cable channel] FX just bought it and we’re in the early stages of making it.” She can’t say too much about the project, though both screenwriter Bathsheba Doran and producer Gene Kelly are rumoured to be working with Kruger on the mini-series.
Her roles as both actress and producer may keep Kruger primarily based in Hollywood for the next few years, but she’s adamant that she’ll continue to make time to work in European cinema. “I always make at least a French movie a year,” she says, musing over her most recent projects. “Sometimes it doesn’t quite work out that way, but I very much love French cinema and this is where my heart is. I feel at home here.”