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How Diane Kruger Ended Up With Norman Reedus: Inside Their Unexpected Love Story

The German actress and style icon couldn't resist the charms of The Walking Dead's biggest sex symbol—and vice versa—and now they're parents of a year-old daughter together
By Natalie Finn Jan 06, 2020 6:40 PMTags
Diane Kruger, Norman Reedus, US Open Finals Brad Barket/Getty Images for Grey Goose

They say opposites attract, but when it comes to love...at the end of the day, just how opposite are two people who fall for each other, really?

Minds were a little blown, however, when the rumors about Diane Kruger and Norman Reedus proved true. After a year of speculation, they really were dating. Then, they really were having a baby. And now...they have a 1-year-old daughter together.

"Happy new year everyone onward and upward [love] to all of u," Reedus captioned a photo of Kruger holding their little girl—whose privacy they've vigilantly protected—that he posted on New Year's Day.

It appears that the family rang in 2020 somewhere warm, judging by the sun-dappled pics Kruger's been sharing, and her birthday tribute for Reedus' 51st birthday today read, "My teenage dream of a man right here ! HAPPY BIRTHDAY to the love of my life."

So life is literally a beach for these two right now.

But when did the German actress with the Grace Kelly style and the scruffy motorcycle-riding Floridian first fall under the spell of each other's charms?

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Well, for starters, in case you hadn't noticed, women and men alike love Norman Reedus. He's been acting for the better part of three decades, but it wasn't until he emerged as the volatile, resourceful and sleeve-eschewing Daryl Dixon on The Walking Dead in 2010 that he became a full-fledged sex symbol, as well as a regular fan favorite. The Comic-Con following alone would have cemented his legacy forever.

But Kruger wasn't paying attention to any of that. She was busy living her glamorous international life, securing her reputation as a style icon for the ages, modeling, becoming the face of Dior, Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel Beauty, and building her own intriguing acting resume, from European TV and cinema to various Hollywood entertainments ranging from Troy and the National Treasure movies to Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.

She played a detective on FX's The Bridge for two seasons, and she was named Best Actress at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival for her performance as a revenge-driven widow who lost her family in a terrorist attack in the German drama In the Fade, which won the Golden Globe in 2018 for Best Foreign-Language Motion Picture.

Jason Merritt/Getty Images for LACMA

And if for some reason you didn't know her from any of those things, you knew Kruger from the red carpet. Or, from her long-term relationship with Joshua Jackson.

The trendsetter dated Pacey from Dawson's Creek (then Peter Bishop from Fringe and Cole from The Affair) for years, the enduring couple splitting their time among New York, West Hollywood, her adopted hometown of Paris and Jackson's native Vancouver.

"Deciding to take it in turns was a major commitment," Kruger told Net-a-Porter's The Edit in 2016 about their effort-requiring lifestyle. "That was a big step for me, allowing that time for someone else out of my time." In a 2015 interview, she noted that, no matter where else they go, "It's part of the deal. I come with Paris, there's no negotiating that."

Their longevity alone made it hard to believe that Kruger all of a sudden had eyes for someone else... And Daryl from The Walking Dead...?

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She and Jackson first met in 2006 and, as she later described it, their first date was a comedy of errors.

First of all, she told Conan O'Brien in 2013, she didn't agree to a date-date. "I agreed to have drinks with him," Kruger explained. "I actually had plans with someone else for dinner, so I know I didn't say yes to dinner."

But just as she was getting ready to leave at 9 p.m., Jackson said they had dinner reservations. "And I felt really bad because he looked very eager," she recalled, "and he put on a clean shirt. And so I was like, 'OK, fine. Let's go.'"

Kruger said she had an allergic reaction to the flowers at the awkwardly romantic restaurant he took her to, and then he drove her back to her hotel in his "piece of s--t" car. When he leaned in to kiss her goodnight, Kruger remembered, "I swear to God, at the end I was like, 'Should I slap him?'"

Jackson was apparently swept off his feet, because he defied her expectations and sent her flowers and a box of tissues to curb any sudden sneezing fits the next day.

On his end, Jackson too was surprised she ever called back after what he confirmed to Us Weekly was a "miserable" outing.

Felipe Ramales / Splash News

Incidentally, Kruger was only recently single when she met Jackson. The actress and model had been married to French actor Guillaume Canet for five years and with him for seven, and she had no intention of going through that again. Moreover, she had an alcoholic father and her mother packed her and her brother up and left him when Diane was 13.

"Without sounding pessimistic, I learned that I don't believe in marriage," Kruger told Glamour in 2011. "I believe in a commitment that you make in your heart. There's no paper that will make you stay. A guy friend of mine said, and it made a lot of sense, that people should get married at the end of the road, not the beginning."

By then, she and Jackson were a ways down their own road. (Canet has yet to remarry, either, though he welcomed his second child with partner Marion Cotillard in 2017.)

"Marriage is important for the people it's important for, but neither one of us is particularly religious, so I don't think there's any particular push," Jackson told Us Weekly in 2012. "But never say never! I don't know."

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Grey Jason Wu x Diane Kruger Capsule Collection

The actor expanded on that a little to Glamour in 2014, saying, "I can tell you why we're not married: We're not religious. I don't feel any more or less committed to Diane for not having stood in front of a priest and had a giant party. We're both children of divorce, so it's hard for me to take marriage at face value as the thing that shows you've grown up and are committed to another person. But it may change at some point. We may get married."

Kruger, however, never really relented on her previously stated disinterest in marriage. "Welcome to my dilemma!" she chirped to The Edit in 2016. 

Meanwhile, though, she and Jackson had talked about having kids.

"I keep dreaming about a baby, but I don't feel any pressure," Kruger said in 2013. "I never thought about having children in the past, then Josh and I started thinking about a family six months after we became involved." 

And France kept coming up. "I see myself raising my children in Europe, probably in Paris," Kruger told You magazine in 2010. "Josh loves Paris and he is cool with that, but we will see what happens when we get there—or if we get there." 

"I consider myself half French," she then told InStyle's "Your Look" issue in 2014. "That's where I think I want to raise my children, where I see myself growing old."

"I feel very European and I think that I'm going to grow old in Paris," Kruger also told The Edit in 2016. "I have this fantasy of raising my kids there one day. I just can't imagine living my life sipping cocktails at the Chateau Marmont, you know?"

Walter McBride/Getty Images

Kruger talked about Jackson in the present tense in the July 2016 issue of Town & Country when she said, "Meeting someone like my partner, who has a very different perspective, who likes to travel in a different way and be open to various experience was so important. I was 30 years old [when they met] and I was already bored of fancy hotels."

And it was widely interpreted to be Kruger referring to herself and Jackson moving in together when she told The Edit, "I just moved to an apartment in New York this week. I need to unpack and buy house stuff, like candles and books."

But... "I."

That interview was published in March 2016. Kruger had been at the February opening of Jackson's off-Broadway play, Smart People. Also that month, she posted to Instagram the quote, "Men aren't stupid, and you don't need a complicated set of rules to find a good one who loves you. Here's the only rule you need: If a man loves you, he will do anything he can to keep you around. Anything." She captioned her post, "I hate inspirational quotes and yet they can be like cheap wine... hard to resist every once in a while. So I'm sorry...suck it.

And that July, the longtime loves announced in a joint statement that they had amicably split up but remained friends.

Which was true, as they were spotted together several times afterward on casual-looking outings.

Cue the postmortem all the same, though.

As early as 2015, there were rumors that Kruger and Reedus—who co-starred in the indie drama Sky together—were having a fling. In the film, Kruger's third collaboration with director Fabienne Berthaud, she played an unhappy Frenchwoman who, while on vacation with her husband in America, takes off after a violent fight and finds romance with a rugged California park ranger played by Reedus.

Incidentally, Jackson was also in the movie, in a small role as a detective.

"I'm sort of a mirror of what is going on with her life, and what she wants to talk about," Kruger told WWD about her character in the film in April 2016, when it opened in theaters in France. "This movie happened at a time in my life where I felt like I was really ready to do that. There were so many intimate scenes to shoot, so many difficult scenes to shoot that I'm not sure I would have been capable of five years ago."

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"I think as we get older," she also said, "people tend to take less risks. There's so much to lose and it's so hard to move on from a situation that is not good for you anymore. I'm certainly guilty of that."

When she signed on to do to the film, she was already very close with Berthaud; Jackson, obviously; Gilles Lellouche, who played her husband; and Lena Dunham, whom Kruger suggested they bring on board to play Reedus' character's pregnant sister-in-law—but she had never met Reedus.

"It was a little nerve-wracking for me because I had a lot of intimate scenes with him and the schedule didn't allow us to meet beforehand," she recalled to WWD. "Our first day was literally that big love scene in Las Vegas... You never know what you're going to get. I was very pleasantly surprised."

Perhaps it was people's general reluctance to let go of the familiarity of Kruger and Jackson together that allowed them to ignore the clues that she was practically broadcasting from the rooftops.

Sure enough, Kruger eventually acknowledged to Vulture that she and Jackson had broken up long before they went public with that fact.

"This was a long time coming," she said in December 2017. "Also we broke up many months before we said we were broken up, so by the time I made that decision, it didn't feel like it was so urgent anymore. You don't break up overnight after 10 years, you know what I mean?"

When Kruger talked about her Sky character with ET Online all the way back in September 2015, when the movie premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, it was easy to draw parallels with what happened when she first met Jackson, though hindsight certainly plays with that perspective: "After leaving her husband, the furthest thing from her mind is to be in another love story. But that's how life works. You find love when you least expect it and with the person you least expect to fall in love with."

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Jackson ended up in the movie, she explained, because basically they were looking for actors who would work for nothing.

"So I was like, 'Hey, want to be the policeman?'" Kruger recalled. "I was worried about having chemistry with him, because we're not supposed to have chemistry. But when he stepped out of the trailer, I knew we were OK. He'd been growing this beard for about three months and then shaved it off for the mustache. I told him he had to shave it off before he came home!"

In November 2015, Jackson was asked how he and Kruger were doing after nine years together. "I mean it's so banal," he told People. "It's not always easy because nothing in life that's worth doing is always easy. I understand at 37 better than I ever did at any other time in my life what the phrase like, 'Love's labor' really means. It's work. But it's work that rewards itself many times over."

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The following month, the New York Daily News reported that witnesses had seen Kruger and Reedus making out in an East Village bar. Reedus' rep flatly denied it, while a Kruger source told Gossip Cop the story was a "complete fabrication."

The debunked encounter was more than enough to put Kruger and Jackson on split watch, however. (By then, Jackson was playing cuckold Cole on The Affair, because the universe is always laughing at us.)

AMC

Reedus, meanwhile, had become the hot women-want-him-and-men-want-to-be-him guy, thanks to his increasingly heroic presence on The Walking Dead, and his just-quirky-enough, relatable bad-boy behavior in real life. (Enjoying a beer from his seat at the 2015 CMT Music Awards, for instance.) Basically, people really wanted to be around him. Luckily, he was OK with the onslaught of selfie requests he received on a daily basis as he went about his business.

In 2013, when pressed, he told Men's Fitness that his personal style consisted of "probably an old punk rock T-shirt, jeans, work boots, and Ray-Bans. That's pretty much what I've been wearing since high school." (As we've since seen, he wears designer suits as well as he rocks a weathered leather vest.)

His love life was more of a mystery, but a long relationship with model Helena Christensen, whom he met through a mutual photographer friend, that ended long before he got super-famous produced their son, Mingus Lucien Reedus. The friendly exes, who undramatically co-parented, reunited in June 2018 for Mingus' high school graduation.

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Reedus told the New York Post in 2014 that Mingus, who incidentally made his runway debut for Calvin Klein at New York Fashion Week last year, got the first-ever copy of The Walking Dead video game when it came out. 

"I forgot I cuss in it," he recalled. "I was sitting behind him when he was playing, and all of a sudden you hear me say a bad word, and he turned around with his mouth open, like, 'Ahh!'" 

Without going much into his actual personal life, Reedus told GQ in 2014, "I always liked shy and sort of interesting people, rather than pretty people trying to please everybody—I always dislike them right off the bat."

After Kruger and Jackson had officially declared themselves friends in the summer of 2016, some time went by before there was any confirmation that she had moved on. Kruger had just been out promoting The Infiltrator, with Bryan Cranston, and didn't have to rush back into the spotlight (when asked if she'd be up for more TV work, she named a different AMC show she'd be happy to work on—Better Call Saul). Then in December she was spotted amid the artsy crowd at the opening of an exhibit of Reedus' photos in Paris.

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In February 2017 Kruger and Reedus were photographed in New York taking bags out of the trunk of a car, as if they had just returned from a trip together. And then finally, the next month, they were snapped kissing.

In the meantime, she and Jackson had sparked their share of reconciliation speculation because they did, indeed, remain buddies.

Jackson—who is now expecting his first child with Queen & Slim star Jodi Turner-Smith, whom he reportedly quietly married last year—even celebrated his ex when she was honored at Cannes in 2017, writing on Instagram, "Yes she Cannes. Having witnessed the integrity and dedication that you bring to every job, I'm over the moon to see you getting the recognition you deserve."

Coincidentally, Kruger's Best Actress win also marked her not-quite-first appearance on Reedus' Instagram account, almost two years after she made her debut while they were promoting Sky. He simply captioned a photo of her with "YESSSSS" and several hearts.

It was a detective at Lainey Gossip who first noticed that Kruger replied on the post, "Omg!!!!!Babe!!!!" (and we're leaving out some exclamation points for brevity's sake).

And with that, they were Instagram-official.

But while they weren't trying to keep a secret any longer, the couple didn't rush into having a flashy public relationship. Kruger was spotted FaceTiming Reedus from work in Winnipeg that July, they went to Costa Rica in August and looked happy and relaxed watching matches at the U.S. Open in September—the natural progression of a relationship. Each had their respective projects in the works, such as the eighth season of TWD for Reedus and Kruger's capsule collection with longtime friend Jason Wu, both of which bowed in October 2017.

Christopher Polk/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

"Being too comfortable freaks me out, so I like the idea of doing new things," Kruger told Boston Common magazine toward the end of 2017, noting that she was learning how to ride a motorcycle. (All the better to date the star of Ride With Norman Reedus, one might guess.) 

She continued, "I think life's better with somebody holding your hand, but I've also learned that I need to take care of myself first. In the past, I've been incredibly disappointed in people. You think you're moving toward the same goal, and then you're not."

With Kruger's film up for a big award in January, it was time to move forward. She and Reedus made their red carpet debut at the 2018 Golden Globes, Kruger dazzling in a black Prada gown in solidarity with the Time's Up movement, and then they hit the InStyle/Warner Bros. after-party at the Beverly Hilton.

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Couples at Golden Globes 2018
Steve Granitz/WireImage

They followed that up with date night at the Critics' Choice Awards, where In the Fade was again named Best Foreign Language Film.

"They complement each other very well," a source told E! News in the summer of 2018. "Norman is very free-wheeling and relaxed, and fun. Diane is much more analytical and thoughtful. They're very good for each other and are really happy. Norman is genuinely a really good person and he works really hard."

And he's perfectly happy to go to Paris with her.

SplashNews.com

"There are certain things I won't accept anymore," Kruger had told Boston Common in 2017. "I think when you're in a long-term relationship, you start making excuses, and you're making a lot of compromises—which obviously you need to make to make things work—but I think there are certain things that I've learned I don't want to accept anymore."

TheImageDirect.com

Kruger's stepfather died in 2016 and, while she didn't want to discuss the specifics of her private life, she had concluded that, "the older I get, it's about focusing on the people that I have left: my mom, my brother, my grandfather and my boyfriend. I just want to be present in my life and not try to project so much into the future."

Soon after a radiant Kruger appeared at the Cannes Film Festival in May in an icy blue Armani Privé dress that was draped just so, and avoided alcohol at all the parties, the news broke that she and Reedus were expecting a baby together.

At the ninth-season premiere of The Walking Dead in the fall of 2018, Jeffrey Dean Morgan relayed that he was perfectly comfortable handing his baby boy off to Reedus on set.

"I've handled everyone's babies," Reedus confirmed as much to E! News. "Everyone's babies' fathers, babies' mothers, I'm an equal-opportunity handler."

 

A source told us that the actor seemed "totally relaxed" and in a "great mood" on set during his girlfriend's pregnancy, and had been leading a mellower life. "He is very private about his relationship with Diane," the insider added, and he kept the focus on work. During production, he would go back and forth between Atlanta, where TWD shoots, and New York.

"One thing that hasn't changed about him is that he is still the nicest guy," the source said.

He also remains a busy commuting dad, as The Walking Dead lives on. The second half of the show's 10th season is scheduled to premiere Feb. 23 on AMC.

Meanwhile, Reedus and Kruger welcomed their daughter in the fall of 2018 and have shared zero details about her to the public—including her name. (After commenting last year on one of Reedus' posts, "I love you and little Etiquette the most," inquiring minds wanted to know if "Etiquette" was their daughter's name. "No, it's not," was her reply.)

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But she did acknowledge to E! News before her first Christmas as a mom in 2018 that it was "a great moment of joy" for her family. "We have a lot to be thankful for. It's been a wonderful year."

Asked what she had in store for the holiday, Kruger replied, "What's exciting is to start your own and anything is possible and as long as my home is happy and light and positive, it doesn't matter."

She told E! News' Erin Lim at the premiere of Welcome to Marwen, ""I'm just going to be home. It's my baby's first Christmas so I just really want to be on a couch with her and my man and just realize how bloody lucky I am."

Sounds like a tradition she and Reedus have been upholding daily, let alone on special occasions.

(Originally published Oct. 4, 2018, at 3 a.m. PT)

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