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Inglourious Basterds - Diane Kruger interview

Inglourious Basterds

Interview by Rob Carnevale

DIANE Kruger talks to us about the appeal of starring in World War II epic Inglourious Basterds, and what it was like to get tortured by Brad Pitt and strangled by her director.

She also discusses what makes Quentin Tarantino so different from other directors and why she preferred getting down and dirty with the boys rather than dressing up in lavish frocks…

Q. When did it first dawn on you that this was a different type of war film?
Diane Kruger: I think it’s clear from the opening page… ‘Once upon a time’‘. I never expected to see a World War Two movie made by Quentin Tarrantino that was going to be a classic soft movie. The truth is that being German, as you can probably imagine, I get offered a World War Two piece every week [laughs] which I’ve never wanted to do because I just didn’t want to be associated, because I was German, with that part of my country’s history. And then this came along and very, very few times you read a script and you go: “Oh my god, he actually wrote this for me!” Although that wasn’t true at all, he probably didn’t even know I existed at this point, but I really felt I was born to play this part and I knew deep in my heart that if I got the opportunity to meet with him, which took a long time and a lot of convincing, that he couldn’t hire someone else. I just really thought I could bring something to this character.

Q. You’re shot, tortured by Brad Pitt and strangled. Is it fair to say you were put through the physical mill?
Diane Kruger: It was just another day at work! [Laughs] I loved it. For once you get a director that loves women for what they can do. All the parts, especially in America, that I’ve been getting are queens or this object that has been put on a pedestal and I just love… Quentin loves women, they’re fierce, they’re a lot smarter than anyone else in the movie quite frankly, and I loved that she kept treating the Basterds like complete morons. So, when I was being tortured by Brad, I was taking it like a man. And the scene with Christoph [being stangled] was completely terrifying, because he has the most terrifying look in his eyes at times, which really threw me off. But here’s a little known fact, when I get strangled it’s actually Quentin… they’re his hands, I’m not sure he wanted me to tell people that, but that says a lot about who he is as a director I think. He’s so into it and he lives every character. I think he would say the same… he is Landa, then he is Bridget von Hammersmark, then he is Shosanna. More than most directors I’ve worked with, he is right there. He played Brad with the accent and everything.

Q. Can you tell us about your amazing outfits in the film and any favourites that you to wear?
Diane Kruger: Anna Sheppard, who does the costume design, is obviously really, really talented and it’s a pleasure to wear and so flattering for women, that period, it’s just beautiful. But I have to tell you that nothing is more fun than ripping that skirt, roughing down and getting dirtied up.

Q. What is it that makes Quentin so different from other directors?
Diane Kruger: I think one of the major differences it that I’ve never worked with a director who is basically a movie library. He bombards you with movie references and characters that he was inspired by and then let’s you make it your own. I must have seen 20 films that he wanted me to see, featuring women that he was inspired by. But he lets that percolate, and then you make it your own. I would also say he was the most precise director I’ve worked with, in terms that he’s very attached to his writing, especially in English. He makes you say every word, which was new for me… a lot of directors let you go on and say approximately what was written.

His writing, for me, was a challenge in English because it’s very nuanced and it’s very much between the lines… every time you read it you discover something else. And he doesn’t let you get away with anything. He’s a director who sits next to camera with no monitor. There’s nobody on set who doesn’t need to be on set, there’s no safety net… he sits and stares at you, which is very unsettling at first, to me anyway, because he sits and stares with his headset on and we had to break scenes a couple of times because he was laughing so loud. But he takes such joy on seeing and hearing his character come to life that, if he feels you’re there and you’re going his way and you’re that character that he wanted to create, he gives you wings. You can go so much further than you think you could.

Q. Bridget is a diva, ever been tempted to throw a diva fit to get your own way? Diane Kruger: I wish I could. No, that doesn’t really work in the modern times. I don’t think I could get away with that.

Read our review of Inglourious Basterds

Read our interview with Quentin Tarantino