Kruger soon became interested in acting and took lessons at the Cours Florent. She landed some small appearances in several French films.
She made her onscreen debut in 2002 opposite Dennis Hopper and Christopher Lambert in The Piano Player, a TV-movie by Jean-Pierre Roux. Her first major role was the same year when she starred in her then husband's directorial debut Mon Idole. She played Julie Wood in 2003's Michel Valliant and Lisa in Wicker Park (2004), alongside Josh Hartnett and Rose Byrne. One of her most notable roles to date is her portrayal of Helen of Sparta in Wolfgang Petersen's epic Troy. She was ranked 50th on the Maxim Hot 100 Women of 2005.
In 2004, Kruger starred with Nicolas Cage and Sean Bean (who co-starred with her in Troy) in the popular film National Treasure, going on to appear in movies such as Joyeux Noël (2005) and Copying Beethoven (2006). She reprised her role as Dr. Abigail Chase in National Treasure: Book of Secrets, released in December 2007.
Kruger at the premiere of Mr. Nobody at the 2009 Venice Film Festival
Kruger was the hostess of the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2007 Cannes Film Festival.
In 2009, she co-starred as a German actress turned saboteur in Quentin Tarantino's film Inglourious Basterds. Kruger starred in 2011 in the Liam Neeson film Unknown alongside January Jones.
In December 2009, she announced the nominations of the 67th Golden Globe Awards and also picked up nominations from the Screen Actors Guild for Best Supporting Actress and Outstanding Performance by a Cast of a Motion Picture for her role in Inglourious Basterds.
Kruger played Anna in Jaco Van Dormael's Mr. Nobody, which was released in 2010. The film was mostly funded through European financiers, and was given limited release in certain countries. Critical response has praised the film's artistry and Kruger's acting. She was nominated the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the 66th Venice International Film Festival for her performance.
Kruger made a cameo appearance in an April 2010 episode of the Fox show Fringe, in which her boyfriend, actor Joshua Jackson is a star.
In 2010, Kruger also appeared in Mark Ronson's music video for "Somebody to Love Me", where she plays Boy George.
In 2011, it was announced that she had replaced Eva Green in the role of Marie Antoinette in the French-language movie, Les Adieux à la Reine.
Kruger is a brand ambassador for watch manufacturer Jaeger-LeCoultre. In December 2009, she was announced as the global spokesmodel for L'Oréal. Most recently, she has become the latest face for Calvin Klein's newest fragrance line, Beauty.
Personal lifeShe married French actor and director Guillaume Canet on 1 September 2001. They divorced in 2006, but acted alongside one another in Joyeux Noël. She has been in a relationship with Joshua Jackson since 2006 Besides her native German, Kruger speaks English and French fluently. She is a friend of fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld. Kruger divides her time between Paris and Vancouver. She has been medicated for combined type attention deficit hyperactivity disorder since the age of twelve.