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Interview: Inglourious Basterds' Diane Kruger

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In Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, two story lines, each containing a strong female character, converge in a violent, bloody finale. Actress Diane Kruger plays one of these women -- a 1940s German screen star named Bridget von Hammersmark. Famous, beautiful and beloved by the Germans, Bridget has a secret side working as an undercover agent for a group of Jewish American soldiers with plans to take down the leaders of the Third Reich.

Zorianna Kit: How was it playing someone in the vein of Marlene Dietrich, who could also hold her own with a group of men?

Diane Kruger: Being German, I had a pretty precise idea of what a German movie star would be like. But I've never been shot at in a film. Most of those scenes are actually quite funny to shoot. The blood is sticky, everything sticks to you and you're pretending to be in pain.

Zorianna: How was it on set day in and day out?

Diane: I felt I really had to step up as an actor. There was a certain energy that I needed to have every day coming to work. But Quentin instills a confidence in his actors and gives you faith that you can step up. I felt incredibly appreciated.

Zorianna: How familiar were you with his previous work?

Diane: I'm a big fan personally. Most actors are. All his movies are performance driven and he writes incredibly well for women. I loved Pam Grier in Jackie Brown.

Zorianna: Did you have any preconceived notions about working with him?

Diane: I expected him to be like his movies -- loud with lots of stuff going on. And that's how he is, but he's also incredibly sensitive. If he feels you're giving it your all and going above the call of duty, he gives you wings. He's really appreciative.

Zorianna: You and Brad Pitt knew each other from working on Troy, but you didn't have any scenes together back then. What was it like to finally act together?

Diane: When you work with Brad, it's a lot of fun. He's a great playmate and you can really bounce off him. He's a fantastic actor, a generous person and very normal. 'Gracious' is the best word to use.

Zorianna: Before 2004, U.S. audiences didn't know you. Then that year you had three American films come out: Troy, Wicker Park and National Treasure.

Diane: Wicker Park was actually my first American movie, but it came out after Troy. I didn't have an American agent at that time. They were casting all over the world to find Helen of Troy and I sent in a tape. That's how they found me. When I was waiting for Troy to come out, I was a complete unknown. In Hollywood when you get one part, all of a sudden there's this hype about you and people just hire you. So when I got cast for National Treasure, I didn't even have to work for it. It was wonderful!

Zorianna: Could you predict that it would be such a success that a sequel was then made?

Diane: Never in a million years I thought the movie would do that well. Then the second one did well too. All of a sudden I'm traveling back and forth between Europe and America and the guy who stamps my passport is like, 'Oh hey! You're Abigail Chase!'

Zorianna: As a German who lives in France and continues to work in French cinema, you don't seem to have much of an accent when you speak English.

Diane: I used to have a very strong accent and it was hard work (to get rid of it). Every time I would make a film, they would hire a dialect coach. But dating someone who is American is the best school! (The divorced Kruger has been dating actor Joshua Jackson for three years.)

Zorianna: What's the plan for the future?

Diane: I want to continue with acting but I feel that there is a time and place for everything in life. I don't want to let my life as a woman pass me by. There's a time to work, there's a time to be young and crazy, and there should be a time to enjoy motherhood. I'm actually looking forward to that. But right now, I want to enjoy this moment, and then enjoy that one.