|July 15, 1976|
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Kruger was born Diane Heidkrüger on July 15, 1976, in the small village of Hildesheim, Germany. She studied ballet as a child, moving to London at 11 years of age to study with the Royal Ballet. When a knee injury ended her dance career at age 13, she rebounded nicely by winning a national modeling competition and a contract with the Elite agency. Kruger became a top fashion model in Germany, working for such industry heavies as Armani and Christian Dior. Then director Luc Besson convinced the young Kruger to move to Paris to pursue acting, which she did. She made her film debut in the crime drama "The Piano Player" (2002), starring Christopher Lambert and Dennis Hopper, then appeared in the black comedy about a Jerry Springer-like talk show host, "Mon Idole" (2002), helmed by then-husband, Guillaume Canet. Kruger appeared in the indie "Ni Pour Ni Contra" ("Not For or Against") (2003), and went on to nab the female lead in "Michel Vaillant" (2003), a live-action adaptation of a popular 1950s French comic strip set at the famed Le Mans auto race.
Kruger's American film breakthrough came the following year with roles in three high-profile projects. In "Troy," Wolfgang Petersen's Trojan War epic starring Brad Pitt, Kruger was well cast as Helena, who is married off against her wishes to Menelaus, the king of Sparta, and spends much of her time brooding and weeping. The lavish film earned buzz for its extravagant budget, but more than earned back its production costs by raking in nearly $500 million dollars. Kruger next joined some of Hollywood's hottest twenty-somethings (Josh Hartnett, Rose Byrne) in the steamy thriller "Wicker Park" (2004), and acted opposite Nicolas Cage in "National Treasure" (2004), as a historian who gets sucked into a treasure hunting adventure involving the Declaration of Independence. Kruger returned to Europe to star in French filmmaker Christian Carion's "Joyeux Noel" (2005), a film based on the true story of a holiday ceasefire during World War I, which was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Continuing to split her time between Europe and Hollywood, the fluent French-speaking Kruger starred in "Les Brigades du Tigre" (2006), about a specialty team of police officers fighting crime in early 20th century Paris. In "Copying Beethoven" (2006), Kruger played a music conservatory student who befriends the ailing composer (Ed Harris) in a fictionalized account of Beethoven's final years. That clichéd biopic was skewered by critics and followed by little-seen efforts "The Hunting Party" (2007) and the low budget horror film "Days of Darkness" (2007), before Kruger reprised her role as Dr. Abigail Chase in the blockbuster sequel, "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" (2007). Following a starring role in the French-produced thriller "Pour Elle" ("Anything for Her") (2008), as a quiet-living woman shocked when she is squired away and charged with murder, Kruger was perfectly cast as a German femme fatale film star and double agent for the Allied forces in "Inglourious Basterds" (2009). Quentin Tarantino's World War II tale of a U.S. mission to take down the Third Reich garnered largely positive reviews, and for her substantial supporting role Kruger's profile was not only boosted, but she also earned a SAG award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role. She was next seen with Jared Leto in French filmmaker Jaco van Dormael's love story, "Mr. Nobody" (2009).