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Diane Kruger | Cover Story

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The Violet Files

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The multitasking actress plays a version of herself—a starlet off camera on location at Paramount—and talks cats, Karl Lagerfeld, and her signature DIY makeup.

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Diane in the mirror - No Sale
The Modern Lip
Diane in the makeup trailer

It’s 10 a.m. on a Tuesday when Diane Kruger—multilingual actress, Chanel ambassador, and international style star—arrives at Paramount Studios in Hollywood for her cover shoot with The Violet Files. She’s holding a coffee in one hand and a yogurt parfait in the other, characteristically chic in a short yellow Giambattista Valli dress. Her blond hair is washed but undone (she says it’s naturally terrible). The weather is unusually hot for Southern California, and although they say it never rains here, a sudden shower does less to cool things down than add to the humidity index on set.

Appropriately enough, given the climate, Kruger is on Paramount’s New York streets set today, playing the role of an off-duty actress for The Violet Files, with creative direction from VIOLET GREY founder Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey and photographer David Bellemere. She lounges in her makeup trailer, perches herself in a director’s chair like a latter-day Brigitte Bardot, and zips around in a golf cart belonging to the studio. In between takes, she carefully consults with stylist Karla Welch on wardrobe decisions.

Diane in the mirror - the modern lip
Diane in the mirror - The Natural

Indeed, Kruger is as efficient and selective in her process as she is in her career choices. Best known for her role as Bridget von Hammersmark in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds, she appears this year in the family drama Fathers and Daughters with Amanda Seyfried, Aaron Paul, and Russell Crowe, and a French thriller (she tries to make at least one French film a year), Alice Winocour’s Disorder. “I play the wife of this wealthy Lebanese businessman who hires a soldier back from Iraq to be a bodyguard for the weekend,” she explains. “And…shit happens.” Next year, Kruger will appear in Brad Furman’s Pablo Escobar crime drama Infiltrator with Bryan Cranston, as well as Fabienne Berthaud’s Sky, in which she stars opposite Gilles Lellouche—with Lena Dunham and Norman Reedus—as one half of “a French couple that comes to the U.S. on a vacation trying to save their marriage, which doesn’t go so well.”

Diane in director's chair

Kruger’s own story, by contrast, has a fairy-tale quality that includes becoming neighbors with Karl Lagerfeld in Paris (more on that later). Discovered at age 15 by a scout in her German village, she set off for Paris to pursue modeling. “I never thought it was anything that I would be able to do—I’m 5’7”, which isn’t very tall for a model,” she says. But within a few years, she’d booked everything from runway shows to Vogue covers (both French and German) to coveted fragrance campaigns for the likes of Chanel’s Allure and Giorgio Armani’s Acqua di Gio. Still, “A lot of casting directors that I went to would say, ‘Why are you not an actress? You’re so short.’” When she took the hint and enrolled in an acting class, Kruger was hooked.  “Growing up my favorite actress was Romy Schneider,” she says of one of her inspirations. “She moved to France to make a movie and fell in love with Alain Delon and made amazing films in French. I thought if the French liked her as a German then maybe they would like me.”

It’s always nice to talk to another cat lady. Karl [Lagerfeld] politely tells me Hobbes is cute, even though he’s probably appalled at how tubby he is.


By turns charmingly self-effacing and Germanically to-the-point, Kruger was a hit in both Hollywood and fashion circles (she’s a regular on Best Dressed lists and a muse of designers like Karl Lagerfeld, Giambattista Valli, and Jason Wu, who are also close friends). “I met Karl when I was sixteen and, as you can imagine, I was very intimidated. But he was just very kind, encouraging, and funny. Since I’ve become an actress we’re collaborating more and we’re neighbors in Paris. His studio is literally next door and I drop by when he’s working all night.” Although Kruger says Lagerfeld’s not exactly knocking on her door to borrow sugar, the two do share cat photos (hers is a “tubby” stray named Hobbes; his is the Internet-famous Burmese, Choupette). “It’s always nice to talk to another cat lady,” Kruger says. “Karl politely tells me Hobbes is cute, even though he’s probably appalled at how tubby he is. ”

Diane getting into character
Diane undressing from character

A lot of casting directors that I went to would say, ‘Why are you not an actress? You’re so short.’ 


Hobbes is on his own for the moment. Within days of wrapping her shoot for The Violet Files, Kruger and longtime partner Joshua Jackson jetted off to Venice for the Film Festival, where she served on the jury. It was the kickoff to a season of red carpet events and press junkets, where, unlike many of her counterparts, Kruger acts as her own makeup artist and stylist. “I was always surrounded by great makeup artists when I was modeling and learned a lot from them,” she demurs. “I try to not overdo it and let the dress do all the talking. I’m really not into contouring and heavy foundation, but I have a pretty thick brow naturally and find that it gives me a lot of character.” If the world doesn’t like it, Kruger’s not bothered, although generally she can do no wrong. The crystal-and-cape-embellished custom Prada number she wore on the festival’s opening night, for example, charmed even the most bitter cynics. Kruger was judging—not competing—in the festival this season, but still came away with honors, as more than one fashion writer named her Venice’s “Winner of the Red Carpet.” Prepare to be dazzled.



Diane at Paramount Pictures

Who or what do you prefer to wake up next to?
My lover. And my cat is there whether I like it or not. Every morning, 6:30.

Never-fail beauty product:
I like the dry shampoo or the texturizing spray by Oribe.

What do you see when you look in the mirror?
The ugly truth.

If you were to have your own perfume, what would you call it?

Necessary indulgence:
Thai massages, and Pho—especially when I’m hung over.

What would you be in an alternate life?
I think I’d love to be a scientist, and if I’m not smart enough, then maybe Peter Pan.

What’s the last dream you had?
The last dream I had was unfortunately a nightmare. It was probably in English—I dreamt my teeth kept falling out. I woke up totally disoriented.

What do you think of when you think of red lipstick?
Usually Paris. It’s something I often wear there during the day.

Beauty icon:
I think it would have to be a mix between Audrey Hepburn and Courtney Love.

Who’s a woman that you’d like to steal a feature from?
I’d love to have Cate Blanchett’s voice. It’s so haunting. I watched the Carol trailer and her voice in that...I just love her, she’s great.

I have a pretty thick brow naturally and find that it gives me a lot of character. 


Favorite films:
Les Choses de la Vie, which has Romy Schneider in it, and Dirty Dancing.

Hair stylist:
Perrine Rougemont! She’s French, and she’s been doing my hair on photo shoots since I was sixteen. I’m really picky with hair, and have terrible hair, and she really knows how to do it and she’s also a really, really nice person. I just can’t stand having a weird energy when I’m already sort of stressed out to go on the red carpet. I feel very safe with her.

Anti-aging strategy:
Just live. You can’t turn the clock back; you just can’t.

Do you see the perfume bottle as half-empty or half-full?
Definitely half-empty.

What's the first thing you notice when you meet a new person?
Their aura…like their energy.

Favorite time of day:
Cocktail hour. I love a Grey Goose martini with a twist.

Best advice you’ve ever received:
“Don’t be scared to be scared.” A veteran actress said it to me on my first job as an actress. I was scared and froze and I was mortified. It made no sense then, but I understand it now and it’s true. 

Who would you like to have paint your portrait?



  • PHOTOGRAPHER:David Bellemere @ Thomas Treuhaft
  • CREATIVE DIRECTOR:Cassandra Huysentruyt Grey
  • SUBJECT:Diane Kruger
  • MAKEUP ARTIST:Kara Yoshimoto Bua @ Starworks
  • HAIR STYLIST:Marcus Francis @ Starworks
  • NAIL ARTIST:April Foreman @ The Wall Group
  • STYLIST:Karla Welch @ The Wall Group
  • PRODUCTION:Ilona Klaver
  • PROP STYLIST:Carl Dove @ Art Department
  • LOCATION:Paramount Studios, Los Angeles
  • CASTING:Sho + Co


Makeup artist Kara Yoshimoto explains how to replicate the makeup from The Violet Files’ shoot.

Diane on makeup prep

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