After jobbing around Europe for a couple of years, Diane Kruger was plucked from obscurity by director Wolfgang Petersen to play the mythically beautifully Helen in sword 'n' sandals epic Troy. She next appeared opposite Josh Hartnett in Wicker Park, the US remake of French romantic thriller L'Appartement, before gearing up for high-octane thrills and spills in National Treasure - produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and also starring Nicolas Cage.
Were you quite confident going in to audition for this role?
No. When I first met Nic [Cage] I was incredibly star struck, and I was terrified of not getting the job, and that he would think I was a terrible actor. I pretty much avoided all eye contact with him. I think he maybe thought I was a little odd.
Why did you opt for a Jerry Bruckheimer film after making Troy?
Well I was sent the script when I was in Mexico making Troy, and I spent six months being really depressed and emotional in every single scene so this was the perfect movie to come along - something light and contemporary. And I loved that my character was so strong, witty, charming and smart at the same time. I'd never played that. Nic was a huge lure, and the idea of being in a Jerry Bruckheimer movie was too. And Jon [Turteltaub, director] was just so funny and enthusiastic when I met him on my audition, I felt this couldn't have been more perfect really.
But there's a lot of physicality with this role. Were you surprised by how demanding it was?
Actually I thought I was pretty fit coming into this, but I realised I should have gone to the gym more often. But it was fun because I've never done anything this action packed before. It was interesting to hang off a truck for a week... It's really challenging. I have a whole new level of respect for stuntmen because it is really hard work.
Are you excited or unnerved by the sudden upswing in your career?
I've only been acting for three years now, and it's been an incredible last couple of years. And it really happened very naturally;I didn't go out to America to try to get work, it's just sort of happened. I feel incredibly blessed and lucky, but I'm very aware of being the flavour of the month right now. My ambition is to be recognised as a good actor. I will hopefully get the opportunity to show more range, I'm hoping to do more European films, more challenging parts in future.
Nicolas Cage has managed to do both...
I really admire his body of work over the years. I really hope I get the opportunity to do the same, so I have been making conscious choices about doing those smaller independent films. I cannot thank people enough for giving me the opportunities I've had.
National Treasure is released in UK cinemas on Sunday 26th December 2004.