Diane Kruger Recalls Screen Test for ‘Troy’: ‘I Felt Like Meat’

To play the steel-edged movie executive at the center of “Swimming With Sharks,” Roku’s upcoming female-centered reboot of the Hollywood classic, Diane Kruger took a long look at her own experiences in show business.

From her early modeling career to breaking into feature films in a dramatically different business landscape than the current one, Kruger has weathered the ups and downs that define many successful careers. But in playing a movie executive, one fond of hurling Louboutins at assistants and willing to sell her mother up the river to close a deal, she was struck by the differences in acceptable professional behavior over time.

“I’ve definitely come across the Weinsteins of this world from the get go,” Kruger said during a conversation at the variety SXSW Studio, in town for the first screening and panel surrounding “Swimming With Sharks.”

“I remember testing for ‘Troy,’” she said of the 2003 Brad Pitt vehicle which launched Kruger in the US market, “and having to go to the studio head in costume. And I felt like meat, being looked up and down and was asked, ‘Why do you think you should be playing this?’”

Kruger declined to name the top executive behind the Warner Bros. release. Multiple industry insiders told variety it not terribly common that a star would have to present themselves in costume for an interview in an executive’s office. Often screen tests are just that — filmed — and reviewed later by studio leadership and producers.

‘I’ve been put in situations that were so inappropriate and so uncomfortable. I think when I fist started out, it just felt like, this is what it’s like. This is what Hollywood is like. Also I come from modeling and believe me, they have their moments,” she said.

Sparing any serious spoilers, one of Kruger’s most intense moments in “Swimming With Sharks” involves a showdown with his own boss. He’s a reptilian, ailing mogul played effectively by Donald Sutherland. On his sick bed, he asks (demands) that Kruger perform a sexual act on a young female who is serving as his nurse. Kruger obliges, but never breaks eye contact with Sutherland during the encounter — staring him down with a frigid intensity.

“Shooting that scene was just a reminder of how disgusting and acceptable bad behavior was at a certain time in our society, not just Hollywood,” she said. “What really drew me to this part is that it is the Hollywood of 2022. So women have careers, they put their families or their desires on the back burner. What does that mean once you are in a position of power? How do you complete your life? The vulnerability of this character, combined with this excessive abusive of power, was really intriguing to me.”

“Swimming With Sharks” will drop in its entirety on April 15 on the Roku channel. Watch the first trailer here.

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