Magazine article Variety

Diane Kruger 'In the Fade' & Hong Chau 'Downsizing'

Magazine article Variety

Diane Kruger 'In the Fade' & Hong Chau 'Downsizing'

Article excerpt

DIANE KRUGER STARS in German filmmaker Fatih Akin's "In the Fade," a gut-wrenching tale of loss, race, politics and revenge that debuted earlier this year at Cannes, where Kruger won the best actress trophy. Surprisingly, it was the German actress' first role in her native tongue. The multi-lingual actress is probably best-known in the U.S. for her starring role on TV series "The Bridge," as well as her scene-stealing in "Inglourious Basterds." She next has Justin Kelly's "JT Leroy," "The Women of Marwen" and "Butterfly in the Typewriter" on deck. Hong Chau co-stars in Alexander Payne's "Downsizing," with the actress earning rave reviews as an amputee in a tiny world. Hong starred in HBO's "Treme" and "Big Little Lies." Hong was born in Thailand to Vietnamese refugee parents and grew up New Orleans. So "Treme" was a perfect fit.

Hong Chau: How did you come to collaborate with Fatih Akin on this role?

Diane Kruger: I was actually a jury member at the Cannes Film Festival [in 2012]. I'm originally from Germany, but I'd left25 years ago and I've been really wanting to make a German film, you know, in German, my mother tongue. I grew up with Fatih's movies, in Germany. So, I knew he had a film, a documentary ["Polluting Paradise"], in a parallel selection [at Cannes]. So I went to his party, really, to meet him, because I'd never met him. I said, "Listen, I would love to make a film with you. You're my hero. If you have anything, please remember me." He kind of did. It took five years, but eventually he called me and he sent me this script. You've seen the film. I was really scared when I read the script. I wasn't sure, really, if I could do it, if I had the strength to go through all of this. It took a long time. He sort of requested that I prep the film for a really long time.

Hong: What did you do for prep? So was the script pretty close to what we see in the final version of the movie or did you work on the story together a bit, in terms of developing your character or changing certain things? Because when I was watching the movie, I thought maybe it might have been directed by a woman because there were so many things that I loved about it and it didn't disappoint me in a lot of ... I'll go into it.

Kruger: It's interesting you say that.

Hong: For some reason I thought the director was a woman, because it was just so nice that there wasn't the ...

Kruger: A rounded character for a female protagonist.

Hong: Well, yeah. Then even the way it was shot. Like I didn't feel like there was that whole issue of like the male gaze, because obviously you're a very lovely woman, and you could kind of go overboard in that way. But that didn't happen. So it was really nice to find out that he was ... that the director was a man and he's from Turkey.

Kruger: He often has really strong female protagonists. He originally wrote this film for a man, and then I think when he met me and he was struggling to really get the story tied up, he changed it to a female, and that's kind of when he started writing it for me. But the script was pretty much there. I mean, we adapted it a little bit once we really got into creating the character and what she would look like. I had prepped for many, many months, and met with a lot of victims, not necessarily of terrorism, but murder, really brutal murder. Families that have lost children or family members, and that's really what it took for me to be able to play this, because I don't even have kids. I think, you know, that the more you spend time, and have the time to really allow yourself to be submerged by other people's experiences, and just allow yourself to feel... I was really desperately trying to find the truth in this character that was so far away from anything I'd ever experienced.

Hong: So what was that like for you? Because for my character, she's an amputee, and I had an amputee consultant who was also a below the knee, left-leg amputee. I went to her rehabilitation center where she did her physical therapy. …

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