In her new film Disorder, Diane Kruger plays Jessie, the young, blonde trophy wife of a wealthy businessman who faces danger when her husband leaves town without paying the people he owes. Matthias Schoenaerts co-stars as Vincent, the ex-soldier with PTSD who protects Jessie and her young son, and the film follows the trio as the situation grows increasingly tense.
Disorder isn’t your typical thriller — it’s French, for one, and it’s directed by Alice Winocour, the Cesar-award winning director and screenwriter behind films like Mustang and Augustine. Winocour has said that she made the film in part so she could try her hand at a genre usually directed by men, and Variety has praised the film’s feminist subtext.
BUST called Diane Kruger to talk about how she knew Jessie wasn’t your typical trophy wife, working in multiple languages, and equal pay.
Why did you decide to do Disorder?
It’s a psychological thriller, and I love the French take on it. I love that it’s a woman who directed this. It’s visually stunning.
Is it weird to go back and do promotion now, when it came out in France over a year ago?
A little bit, but it’s also kind of cool. I think part of why I make films is that they travel so much and they’re sort of universal, no matter what language you make the movie in. We went to Toronto last year with this, we went to London, France, and now we’re here. It’s so fun that it resonates with different cultures and different languages.
So many foreign language movies, once they’re subtitled, they don’t translate. Especially comedies — people don’t laugh about the same stuff I guess. Thrillers are different in America, they’re much more high action and everything is heightened. And this is more small and intimate in a way. I wasn’t sure it was going to translate with peoplE, and the responses have been so good.
You do small French independent films and English-language blockbusters, how do you balance that?
I feel like I get the best of both worlds. I wouldn’t want to just do one or the other. With making films in different languages, you really get an appreciation of how different films are and how much you have to adapt for each director and the challenges different languages represent. French movies tend to be a little smaller in scale, obviously, and more about quotidian things, and Americans are always a little bit larger than life.
I just finished a French movie in the South of France, and I’m just going on to make a German film. They have different habits. It’s fun. It’s like we’re in the circus. You go and perform a different kind of stunt. I love it, that’s why I wanted to be an actor.
We’re all about championing female directors and Alice Winocour is a great one. What was it like working with her?
She’s very demanding. Women directors can be very tough. She does a lot of takes, she’s very precise. She can get hung up on details. I loved working with her. She keeps you on your toes all the time.
I read an interview with Alice Winocour where she said that she partially made the film so she could explore a genre that’s usually very male-dominated. Did you feel like she did the genre differently than it’s usually done?
I think so. I’m not sure how comfortable I would have felt playing this trophy wife if it was a male director, because I feel like it would have been too much on the surface. And I knew from the get-go that even though she looks at me with such distance in the beginning, even then you can tell there’s more to that character. She had a different take on my character than a man would have had.
How do you feel her take was different?
Just talking to her about it, how she saw this character and why she liked this character and what her backstory was. There was so much nuance from the get-go when she told me about what she wanted to achieve, it was always on my mind while we were filming, and then the art of the character. I love the golden cage/wounded bird, the concept of an emotionally strong woman.
So much of the film is just you, Matthias Schoenaert and the little boy. What was it like working with just the three of you?
French movies in general are usually much smaller in scale, so you always feel like part of a family. Working with kids is really challenging, especially since this kid was not an actor at all, he’d never done any acting. With kids, no matter what you do, they’re always going to be better than you in a scene. They react. We were in the house for such a long time, by the beautiful Riviera. It was a really nice time working with people and making friends.
In an interview last year, you talked about being paid less than your male co-stars and it’s been such a huge conversation since then. Do you think things are changing?
I don’t know if it’s really changing. I think it’s gotten better as a conversation. I’m not sure how much has changed because I’m not privy to my female costars’ negotiations, and for myself, my last movie, I was the female lead and before that I was the only lead. I hope things are changing!
Top image: Disorder
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