It's not just anyone who can go from a quirky little independent film to Matt Damon's love interest, but that's exactly what Franka Potente has done, snagging the female lead in the spy thriller, The Bourne Identity.
It opened in second place this past Friday, taking in nearly $28 million at the box office.
Potente, 27, has been the Julia Roberts of Germany for nearly a decade, but it wasn't until 1998 that she sprinted onto American screens with the German film, Run Lola Run, in which she plays a woman with cherry-red hair literally running through the streets of Berlin to try to get enough money to stop gangsters from killing her boyfriend.
Now, she's on the run again, this time with Matt Damon in the summer blockbuster, The Bourne Identity.
Living in ‘Movie World’
The Bourne Identity was filmed mostly in Europe, Potente's home turf. But Potente says she has no real preference when it comes to film locations.
"I don't really care where I work, actually, because you know making a movie is like living in movie world," Potente said. "There's such a secluded world, and the director is the king ruling the country, and everybody's building this little town to speak in symbolism."
Potente said that starring opposite Damon is a slightly humbling experience.
"I'm the less famous person so they ask me how is it to kiss him — how was it to work with him," Potente said. "And I always say do you ever ask him how it was to kiss me? Maybe that's an interesting answer as well!"
Working together, she and Damon became friends.
"He totally helps you out. Like one day in Prague I remember we were in the hotel and we had to re-dye my hair and he ran down he brought all these water bottles and donated all the water," Potente said. "He helped rinse out the color. And I thought that's awesome — you know, he just does that like that."
Potente was not quite as relaxed in her first big American movie, Blow, in which she starred opposite Johnny Depp.
"I think working with Johnny Depp was very intimidating," Potente said. "It was my fault though. I mean he's a total cool nice, nice guy, but I was just so, I don't know, overpowered by his presence. Like he's a very mystic person. He's older so I never really warmed up around him. I was so stiff. I'm sure he thought I was totally nuts."
The Fall Girl?
As a child, Potente wasn't initially set on being an actress.
"When I was a kid at first I wanted to own a candy shop," she said. "I guess every kid wants to — we just want to have access — free access."
Then, in the early 1980s, she saw the American TV series, The Fall Guy with Lee Majors, and fell in love with the idea of being a stunt person.
"I loved that show," Potente said. "My brother and I at wintertime we would ride sleighs — and we would purposely like crash into trees and roll off — just pretend we were them. I just loved it so much — so I wanted to be a stunt person."
Instead, her acting career began when she was discovered in a German bar nearly a decade ago. You might say she brings a little piece of the bar with her to every job, to prepare for kissing scenes.
"Well it's just I have a little emergency kit," she said. "I always have a bottle of Jagermeister in the trailer for these things. Some call it medicine."
In fact, her trick of the trade came in handy on the set of The Bourne Identity, with Damon.
"Matt was nervous himself, which is kind of nice when you find out because you're not the only one," Potente said. "And he said OK, listen we have to do this for the entire day. Let's enjoy it."