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For decades, Diane Kruger didn’t want kids. Now in her forties and a mother to a young daughter, she’s finding a balance between parenting and managing a demanding career.

The choice to become a parent is a difficult one for many women, often requiring mothers to make sacrifices in their personal and professional lives. This is especially true for high-achieving women, whose careers are still on the rise during the typical “child-bearing” years.

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Diane Kruger was child-free during her twenty and thirties, leading her to believe that she just wasn’t destined to be a mother. Since becoming a parent in her forties, she’s reported that she couldn’t have guessed that her life would go in this unexpected yet wonderful direction.

How Diane Kruger Got Her Start in Hollywood

Diane Kruger in white veil as Diane of Troy in Troy.
Diane Kruger in Troy (2004)

With a face like hers, it’s hardly surprising that Diane Kruger got her start in modeling in Europe. She grew up in the small German town of Algermissen, where she walked her pet rabbit on a leash and was ostracized by her peers for studying ballet.

It was an early dream of Kruger’s to one day become a ballerina, but she was forced to change her goals following a knee injury. While still in her teens in 1993, Kruger turned to modeling, participating in the Elite Model Look: an international modeling event in which aspiring models compete to represent their home countries. Kruger represented Germany, then headed to Paris to start her modeling career in earnest.

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Despite not speaking French before arriving, her time in Paris was extremely successful. She quickly landed the cover of Vogue Paris and was in print campaigns for fashion houses like Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Giorgio Armani, and Christian Dior. She developed a working relationship with Chanel’s creative director, Karl Lagerfeld, and would go on to be an ambassador for the brand.

Kruger would find success in print and on the runway, but she aspired to more. In her early twenties, she decided to try acting. She got her big break playing Helen of Troy in 2004’s Troy, starring Brad Pitt. Three thousand other actresses auditioned for the role.

“I mean, Helen of Troy obviously was based on the way I looked,” Kruger told Tatler. “But I don’t think they could have given it to any model, right? They wouldn’t have given it to me if I didn’t have at least a little bit of talent.”

Troy was famously lambasted critics, which prompted Kruger to focus on European cinema for a while. She’s been known to perform in an impressive three languages: English, French, and her native German. She eventually returned to Hollywood, most notably in the role of Bridget Von Hammersmark in Quentin Tarantino’s Inglorious Basterds.

Diane Kruger’s Complicated Relationship with Motherhood

Diane Kruger in a black leather jacket riding a motorcycle in The 355.
Dian Kruger in The 355 (2022)

Throughout her early career, Kruger didn’t want to start a family. After all, having children is very demanding, particularly on mothers. And oftentimes, the period of life in which women are expected to have children – in their twenties and thirties – is the same period of life in which women are still establishing their careers.

With such a demanding yet successful career requiring travel and working long hours, who can blame Kruger for not wanting kids yet?

“I didn’t want children for a long time. I really liked my life the way it was,” Kruger told Tatler.

During this time, Kruger also didn’t have a stable long-term relationship. Her marriage to French director Guillaume Canet ended in divorce after five years, and her relationship with Joshua Jackson led to a huge influx of attention from the paparazzi and the relationship ended in her late thirties.

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By her forties, Kruger had made peace with the fact that she would probably remain child-free.

“In my late thirties, I was starting to think about it but I wasn’t in a place in my relationship at the time – or whatever – where that was going to be a possibility and so I had kind of given up hope and I thought it was just too late. And I was OK with that.”

Of course, that all changed at the age of 43, when she had a baby girl named Nova (“Nova in Latin means new beginning, and a nova star keeps changing and is reborn.”) with fiancé Norman Reedus.

How Diane Kruger Balances Family Life and a Demanding Career

Diane Kruger and Norman Reedus with daughter Nova on Instagram.
Courtesy @dianekruger

Both Kruger and Reedus continue to have demanding careers. Reedus is on The Walking Dead and acts in other projects on the side; Kruger continues to appear on the big and small screen. What’s changed is that she’s become more discerning about the roles she accepts since she has a toddler in tow.

Kruger felt like an outsider throughout much of her childhood. She had an odd name (“Diane” being unusual in Germany) and odd interests (the aforementioned ballet and pet bunny). On top of this, Kruger couldn’t invite other kids over to her house because of her father’s alcoholism.

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Because of her upbringing, Kruger works hard to make sure Nova feels a sense of belonging wherever she goes – which, given her parents’ jobs, is all over the world.

“We teach [Nova] that she is at home in the world, that we have friends all over the world [and] that we really don’t have to miss people because we’re just going to go for a little bit and then come back,” Kruger told Tatler. “We’re very lucky to have homes in different places.”

Kruger and Reedus are incredibly protective of Nova. They have never publicly shared photos that show their daughter’s face and until fairly recently, had even kept her name a secret.

Nova is enrolled in the Montessori school system, so wherever she travels, she’s put in school.

What’s Next for Diane Kruger

Diane Kruger and Josh Hartnett in Wicker Park.
Diane Kruger and Josh Hartnett in Wicker Park (2004)

Kruger continues to be in high demand, apparently reading ten to fifteen scripts per week. She’s been cast as Marlene Dietrich in a new miniseries about the famous German actress and is an executive producer on the project.

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Kruger also uses her fame to bring attention to important issues: gun control in the United States, and the pay gap between actors and actresses in the industry. And, of course, she’s continuing on the new path of motherhood.

“The arrival of Nova has changed my life – our lives – in the best possible way. It’s just amazing that you thought you were one thing but you’re meant to do something completely different.”

Kruger sets the example that life doesn’t have to be dictated by age. Thoughts, passions, and goals can easily change from day to day, hour to hour or even decade to decade. We don’t have to be locked into who we were at any set point of our life. Wonderful changes can come about at the wildest of times.

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