Diane Kruger on Tackling Grief and Revenge in Universal Drama ‘In the Fade’

Long known for her roles in blockbuster American films such as “Troy” and “National Treasure,” German-born actress Diane Kruger has displayed more of a serious side in recent years, topping herself with her latest project, “In the Fade,” an intense drama from one of Germany’s top filmmakers, Fatih Akin, that deals with he Hate, grief and revenge. Kruger plays Katja, a woman whose life becomes a living nightmare after her husband (Numan Acar) and little boy (Rafael Santana) are killed in a terrorist attack. Kruger gives a tremendous performance as, after being failed by the justice system, Katja maps a plan of revenge against the pair of terrorists (Hanna Hilsdorf, Ulrich Friedrich Brandhoff) responsible for her misery.

For such a role, Kruger went through a long preparation process that included attending support groups and listening to individual stories from people who had lost family members to violence. “The preparation of it took a really long time, so when we started filming, I was ready,” Kruger told Entertainment Voice. “I felt like I had spent a long time talking about this, preparing it, alone, at first, and then with Fatih, and living in Germany beforehand to sort of re-acquaint myself with the German culture because I left 25 years ago. [I went] to the places where my character lived. You try as much as you can to submerge yourself with that. To be honest, it really didn’t feel like I was acting. Many times I was just reacting to the scenes, and we shot in order, so that really helped me through it.”

Kruger went on to talk more about embracing the darkness of her role. “You can’t really escape that. There was no coming home and watching a romantic comedy.”

Both Kruger and Akin were in agreement that the court scenes in which Katja is forced to listen to excruciating details about her son and husband’s deaths were particularly challenging. Said Kruger, “There are so many angles and so many people to cover, so you hear the dialogue over and over and over. I really leaned on Akin to poke me awake, not just awake, but to keep that tension and never forget, to be blank, basically, that was difficult to keep up.”

Prejudice is an overarching theme in “In the Fade.” After her son and husband are buried, Katja’s ordeal is far from over, as she faces questions from law enforcement about her late spouse, Nuri, whom the police imply might have caused his own death due to his past imprisonment on drug charges and his Middle Eastern background. However, after recalling seeing a suspicious-looking white woman at the scene of the crime shortly before leaving, she starts to believe that neo-Nazis were responsible for the attack, something that is confirmed following the arrest of the woman, Edda, and her husband.

Although Kruger was born and raised in Germany, “In the Fade” is her first German-language film. And while she has seen some change in the country since she was a teen, one thing that has been consistent is the presence of neo-Nazis. “They were always a part of growing up, especially when East and West Germany reconnected when the wall fell. There was a big uprising in extremism,” recalled the actress “In those days, because I remember them as a kid, because they wore their hair a certain way, and you could see them, and you stayed out of their way, because those were extreme people. But now, because of the internet, and you see this in the movie, they’re connected globally… and that’s pretty scary because they can organize and are more powerful in a way.”

Kruger, who met Akin at the Cannes Film Festival several years ago, was eager to work with the director, especially after he sent her the screenplay that he co-wrote. She revealed, “The appeal of this script, aside from the fact that it was Fatih, was that it was a very universal film, even though it was in the German language, what it talks about is such a global issue, and the sentiment of grief, empathy and what my character’s going through, I felt like, the story could take place here, it could take place in France, so there was an international appeal that i felt was a good fit for me.”

When asked about why he chose to make his lead female, Akin told Entertainment Voice, “For me, as a male director, it’s always more attractive to work with female actors.” To that Kruger said, “Wouldn’t it be nice if more male directors felt that way?”

“I wrote it for a male,” Akin revealed. “The hero was, in the very early stages, a man, and that felt like Charles Bronson kind of stuff. It felt like stuff I had seen before, and I wrote myself into several dead ends… And then I had the idea to change the sex, and suddenly all the dead ends became opportunities and opened doors. I knew it was right. Mothers, for me, are really heros, in a way. I live with a mother. They have tough jobs. And take a kid from a mother, and what’s left? That was fascinating for me.”

In the Fade” opens Dec. 27 in select theaters.