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Portraying a character with Asperger’s on the FX drama The Bridge has been German-born actress Diane Kruger‘s most challenging role.
“It’s been a very long, difficult process,” admitted Kruger, adding that she read books about autism and Asperger’s to prepare for her role as El Paso PD detective Sonya Cross. But the most valuable preparation came from working with Alex Plank, founder of WrongPlanet.net, an online community for individuals living with autism, Asperger’s, ADHD and other neurological differences.
“It was very difficult for me to really grasp what that would be like,” said Kruger, addressing media reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour Friday. “It’s not an affectation. It’s not something you can put on. There’s never a scene I do that is just saying my lines. I’ve had to shift my point of view of the world.”
Plank, who is a consultant on the show, allowed Kruger to “ask really uncomfortable questions that overwhelmed him at times,” she said. “I think he’s been instrumental to my performance. I feel like we’re hopefully on the right track. I don’t want to offend anyone. Obviously I could never be 100 percent accurate. I feel like he watches out for that community.”
The Bridge, about a serial killer operating on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border, had a solid premiere July 10, brining in more than 3 million viewers for its first airing. It also posted record time-shifted viewership increases gaining 88 percent among adults 18-49 and 67 percent among total viewers.
Damian Bichir stars as Kruger’s Mexican counterpart from the Chihuahua State Police; the duo are a peculiar odd couple, with Bichir’s Marco Ruiz slowly adjusting to Det. Cross’ brusque personality. And while characters with neurological differences are not new to television – NBC’s Parenthood has dealt with Asperger’s – it’s an unusual condition for an adult female character.
“It’s much more acceptable for a man to be rude,” noted Kruger. “I mean Jon Hamm [plays] the most despicable character on television yet because he’s handsome and a guy we’re all like oh, he’s so wonderful. The clichés and the standards for women and men on television and in movies is so weird.”
The Bridge – a co-production of Shine America and FX Productions – is based on the Scandinavian series Bron. And while, FX has yet to announce a second season pick up, executive producers Meredith Stiehm and Elwood Reid seemed to jump the gun in revealing that the first season finale will act as a launch pad for the second season. Stiehm and Elwood confirmed that the serial killer would indeed be revealed at the end of the season. But they added that the show would not follow a serial killer per season model.
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