Q&A: Diane Kruger takes us to “The Bridge”

Q&A: Diane Kruger takes us to “The Bridge”

Q&A: Diane Kruger takes us to “The Bridge”
July 06
12:21 2013

Preston Barta / Film Critic

Diane Kruger has had an incredible career in the film-acting world, playing Helen of Troy in Wolfgang Peterson’s thrilling epic “Troy” (2004), reciting and giving life to the slick words of Quentin Tarantino as Bridget von Hammersmark in “Inglourious Basterds” (2009) and going on historical adventures with the toupee-wearing Nicholas Cage in the “National Treasure” films.

Now, the gifted starlet has moved on to television to play a determined detective, Sonya Cross, in FX’s sweeping new series “The Bridge,” an American crime drama that explores the tensions on the US and Mexico border.

On the Record Magazine recently spoke with Kruger about her move to television and the challenge of playing a character with Asperger’s syndrome.

I imagine you did a lot of research to play Sonya Cross and perfect your character’s condition. Since the show started, do you find that your own instincts and ideas ever intrude on what’s written in the script?

Kruger: “Yes, all the time.  When I first started reading the books about Asperger’s or autism in general it kind of dawned on me that this was going to be a much bigger undertaking than what I thought it would be.  It continues to be a huge challenge because my instincts tell me to say things with intention sometimes, which is totally wrong for this character because she doesn’t mean to be rude. She doesn’t mean to be blunt. It’s really trying to allow my mind to see things from a totally different perspective that a person with Asperger’s would do, and that is obviously difficult.  They’re very rational and logical and they take shortcuts.  The social niceties or the social cues that we all have to learn to read just don’t exist for them.

So sometimes, to be honest, it’s a great relief because you just say it how it is and then other times, especially when you’re in a scene where a person is really hurt or is emotionally distraught and you just can’t show any empathy, that goes against any person’s instincts, and so it definitely keeps me on my toes.”

How do you pull away the emotion? Because for an actress, emotion is the calling card that you bring to any kind of a production. So how do you take that away?

Kruger: “It has not been easy and it continues to be challenging. It’s not like she doesn’t have any emotion— it’s just that it is in the oddest places. It goes against my instincts every single day, like you brought up. So doing this back-story has been my saving grace because there’s that one place that you come to learn when you watch the show— where she puts all those bottled up emotions. But there is also Ted Levine’s character, Hank, who is the only one that gets to see the more emotional side. But it’s a daunting character to take on, and you have to accept that people might be put off at first when they first meet her.”

Your character and Demian Bichir’s character work together on the show, and you all make quite an interesting and unique detective team. You’re so brittle and socially awkward, while his character is so warm and more of a people person. Was all of that laid out for you in the script, or did you all have to fine-tune it and work at it?

Kruger: “The relationship between those two detectives was laid out for us, which is also what, to me, was interesting about it. We have two opposite cultures, and in a way I think Demian’s character, Marco Ruiz, represents very much how we imagine Mexican men to be— very Latin and charming. Plus, he has a great accent. While Sonya, on the other hand, is very much American because she’s all about business and enforcing the law. So that was in the show. What we are trying to convey, as the show unfolds over the 13 episodes, we’re trying to show two such different cultures, two such different countries and how they can put their differences aside for the greater good and try to make their relationship work, and how they can take away things from one another. So that’s what we’re working on in every episode— we’re trying to adapt the characters to that.

When the cameras are not rolling, Demian and I have actually become really friendly and great friends. We were supposed to make a movie together before the show came along, so it felt like we were meant to work together. I admire him very much, and not just a colleague but also as a person. I think he’s wonderful.”

Demian Bichir as Marco Ruiz, Diane Kruger as Sonya Cross. Photo courtesy of FX Network.

I read in another interview that you were drawn to the cable television renaissance. However, roles for women on cable television have frequently been limited to the wives of the men who are the main characters. Do you see opportunities for women broadening in cable television with roles like this one, and do you think that cable does better with women than the movies does?

Kruger: “Oh yes, I absolutely agree with that. There will continue to be movies that have great female roles, but I definitely think that on cable television, from ‘Mad Men’ to ‘Homeland,’ or Robin Wright in ‘House of Cards,’ those female parts are so well written and unafraid of characters, and that’s really what it comes down to, I think. It seems to me that they thrive and the audience is looking for characters like that, and it’s very exciting for women. I’ve never been offered an in-depth character like this in a movie.”

There are several shows on television right now that deal with serial killers, such as “The Following,” “The Killing” and “Hannibal.” Can you weigh in on what you think will make “The Bridge” stand out?

Kruger: “Well, to me, the setting between Mexico and America is unique and I don’t think has been done on television before. I think the backdrop of the unsolved crimes as the missing girls from Juarez, the relationship between America and Mexico is very interesting to see and shine a light on. I also think that the two characters, Marco Ruiz and Sonya Cross, are an unusual combination of detectives.  The show’s not your usual cop show because it’s a very character driven show. You think the show’s about one thing and then it goes in directions that will be quite unexpected.”

And lastly, three-part question: what’s your favorite show on TV right now, your favorite song on the radio and the best movie you’ve seen recently?

Kruger: “My favorite show would be ‘House of Cards’ for the intrigue. I find myself fascinated by looking behind curtains of Washington, and I’m a huge fan of Robin Wright. I think she is absolutely amazing on that show.

My favorite song on the radio? I love “Radioactive.”  I don’t know who sings it, but I love it. It was in one of the movies I did, ‘The Host,’ so I guess it’s been stuck in my head.

And my favorite movie that I’ve seen recently— ‘Man of Steel.’ I saw that and thought that was pretty cool.”

“The Bridge” premieres Wednesday at 9 p.m. on FX.

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