'The Bridge': Diane Kruger on playing a detective with Asperger's
"[Sonya] is a daunting character to take on, and you have to accept that people might be put off at first when they first meet her," Kruger shared on a conference call last week.
And although the history of Cross' exact condition is one of the show's many tantalizing mysteries, Kruger is comfortable revealing that Cross was conceived as a character with Asperger syndrome.
It's a juicy role on a sophisticated series and perhaps Kruger's best opportunity to showcase her talents since her witty, charismatic turn in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds" brought her a SAG Award nomination.
Here are five behind-the-scenes tidbits Kruger shared about how she approaches the playing Cross:
1) Explore something new
"How can someone who has a condition such as Asperger's really excel at being such a good cop? That's really what drew me initially to the project, because, yes, she has this condition, there are so many shortcomings in her personal life that appear because of that condition. Yet she is so different in her job because she has this ability to focus and to really look at things from a different point of view. I had never really had a desire to play a cop, I'm not really the gun toting kind of person, so that's what really was interesting to me.
"Everything about Asperger's was very new to me. I've heard of autism, but I wasn't familiar with Asperger's. As soon as I started reading up on it, I realized that [playing the character] is a really daunting undertaking and continues to be so, because it's not something that you can just put on. It's a mind frame that I have to put myself into every day."
2) Find the right technical adviser
"The key for me really happened when FX decided to reach out to Autism Speaks ... and they introduced me to a young man called Alex, who has Asperger's himself. FX decided to bring him on as an adviser to the show. So he's on the set every day when I work, and I've spent -- I'm not kidding -- more time with him in the past four months than I have with my partner. I have so many questions and I'm just observing him, but I'm also asking him some pretty uncomfortable questions. And his willingness to be my partner in this has made a big difference. I sleep easier at night knowing that he watches over everything I do."
3) Don't label it
"We decided early on that we were not going to label Sonya's condition in the show, which I think is very important and very interesting, because we didn't want her condition to be her defining character trait. I thought that was really brave and it's pretty ballsy, in my eyes, because in the first episode ... she's so odd and you don't really know what it is that's off. I think it will be great to get the opportunity for the next 13 episodes to see her nuance and her layers and to understand a lot of her back story that has made her the person that she is today."
4) Get the back story
"We will come to explore [Sonya's history] as the show goes on, and it will really show you a very emotional side of Sonya. I'm always very excited to play [that] because she so often could come across being blunt or standoffish, which is not at all the case. People with Asperger's have empathy and they have feelings, of course, but they just don't know when to show those emotions. There's a delay. And they understand when somebody is pissed off or their behavior causes people to misread their intentions, but they just don't understand what it is they said that [causes it]. There's a lot of darkness and loneliness that Sonya carries around and probably has carried around for most of her life."
5) Bond with your co-star
"When the cameras are not rolling Demian [Bichir] and I have actually become really friendly and really good friends. We were supposed to make a movie together before the show came along, so it felt like we were meant to work together, and I admire him very much as not just a colleague but also as a person. I think he's wonderful. His significant other and mine have sort of formed a real friendship."