Cannes: Diane Kruger Talks Challenges of Making Hedy Lamarr Biopic, #MeToo Movement

Anthony Ghnassia/Getty Images for Chopard
Diane Kruger

Last year's best actress winner returned to the fest to present the Chopard Trophee.

After a whirlwind year, Diane Kruger returned to Cannes after her best actress triumph last year for In the Fade. That film has spent the year picking up prizes, from the Golden Globe for best foreign-language film to the best picture prize at the German Film Awards just two weeks ago. She was back on the Croisette to present the Chopard Trophee to Joe Alwyn and Elizabeth Debicki, this year’s winners for the prize that recognizes young talent. Kruger received the prize as a newcomer back in 2003, before Troy premiered in Cannes and made her a household name.

You're here to present this year's Chopard Trophee, which you won years ago. What does it mean to you?

That was for a little French film and I was shooting Troy. I feel it's kind of like things have come full circle. It was surprising—the fact that they even picked me out of that obscure French movie, because honestly I was so green at that time. I was filming in Malta and I didn’t think I’d be able to make it [to the ceremony]. I remember it was so outrageous that they sent me a private plane as a young actress. I remember leaving set and pulling my wig off and the hairdresser had to get me ready inside the plane. It was a surreal moment to come straight from the movie set to the glamour of Cannes. That movie then premiered in Cannes a year later, and now going on to win a palme, which is also a Chopard trophy, is pretty amazing.

What did it feel like to be called to the stage and then have that crystal in your hand?

When I think back it was kind of a blur. It was so overwhelming. It was my first German-language movie and it premiered very late in the festival, the last Friday. A lot of people had left and you could feel the fatigue of the Croisette. I remember going up the steps that night and it felt like the first time. You know the movie is getting something but you don't know what. You are called back [by Thierry Fremaux]. I didn’t get it but my director [Fatih Akin] did. I was packing to go back to Paris and he called and was crying and so I started crying. So it was a very special moment to walk arm and arm with him up the steps. It's hard to describe really what the feeling is.

You're a bit of a "festival regular." What do you think of the pact the festival signed to work toward more gender parity?

I think the festival is actively trying to set an example for the film industry and for other festivals. It's all about creating opportunities and awareness. The whole #MeToo movement has started that and we have to be vigilant with following up, and it definitely feels like the door is opening. I produce myself, or I've been trying to produce this new series about Hedy Lamarr. I've had this project for four years and it's been like trying to push a rock up a mountain. Nobody wanted to make it. Every studio said, 'We don't want to make a female biopic. Who wants to see that?' and it's finally gained momentum in the last six months, so I do feel like it's changing a little bit. Since Hidden Figures came out, that's when things started to change. It's just there's more of an appetite and now there is proof that those types of films make money.

What are the biggest challenges of transitioning from acting to producing?

It's really long and it's expensive to develop projects and it's a complicated process finding the right writer, finding people that get excited about the storyline and why it is important. I'm sure it's easier if you're Reese Witherspoon or Nicole Kidman, but it's definitely a challenge. I want to create stories not only for myself but also for other women. We have a lot of stuff to say.

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