Diane Kruger also wanted to believe in the myth of Hollywood | Television
BRUCE R. MILLER
German actress Diane Kruger remembers the first time she walked through the doors of a Hollywood studio.
“It was like in the movies,” the ‘Inglourious Basterds’ star said. Like others, she wanted to believe the corporate myth: “The whole American Hollywood dream is alive and well in Europe.”
Born in West Germany, Kruger wanted to be a ballerina, but a knee injury caused a change of plans. After a stint at the Royal Ballet School in London, she turned to modeling and then, in 2002, to theater.
The glamorous life? Not in the European film industry.
“We don’t have a studio system like the one you have here,” Kruger said during a Zoom interview. “Films are produced by television channels, especially in France, where you get subsidies. The rival studio system? We don’t have that, so it’s very different.
In the new series, “Swimming with Sharks,” she plays a ruthless studio boss who’s not above barking orders and demanding everyone she sees. Cool and calculated, its Joyce Holt, hires an assistant – played by Kiernan Shipka – who appears as a potential replacement.
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Naturally, Holt’s guard is lifted, and soon some sort of game begins.
Fictitious? Not necessarily, says Kruger.
“I’ve definitely come across executives or producers that haven’t been super pleasant,” she says.
Assistants, says Shipka, are always nice because they don’t care about talent. “She’s pretty cute on the surface,” the ‘Mad Men’ star says of her character. But she wouldn’t telegraph her backstage punches to an actress. The game between Shipka’s Lou Simms and Kruger’s Holt is clear from the start: “She wants her job,” says Shipka. “That’s what it’s all about…and then it’s not.”
The two actresses say they enjoyed the twists and turns of the story.
“There was always a layer to pull off in any scene on any given day,” says Shipka. “There were a ton of fun things to put into the scenes and the performances.”
And more than a few deaths to consider. The moral of the story, Shipka laughs, “Never come to Hollywood.”
Unlike Kruger, who only entered the business as an adult, Shipka moved to Los Angeles when she was 6 and started working right away.
“I really didn’t know anything else,” she says. “My introduction to this kind of world was rhythmic. It was a gradual introduction and then, all of a sudden, everything changed.
Filming “Swimming with Sharks,” Shipka says, gave her an idea of what Kruger initially went through. “It reignited that kind of studio magic. As familiar as I am with this city, you make a movie at Paramount or spot the Hollywood sign and something still happens. There is magic in all of this.