Visionary Filmmaker Luc Besson has long been thrilling moviegoers with a breathtaking catalog of work. Whether it be Léon the Professional, The Fifth Element, Nikita, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc or more recently Lucy, his Films have mesmerized a generation and raised the bar of innovation for his peers. While often wearing Writer, Producer and Director’s hats simultaneously, he also was responsible as Writer and Producer several smash success including the Taxi, Taken and The Transporter franchises. The personable and private (he doesn’t like being photographed) Co-Founder of massively successful EuropaCorp has gifted us with Films which at once are high art as they are commercial, resonating in a big way with film lovers worldwide.
We had the pleasure of journeying for the first time ever to Montreal where Besson met Canadian Press in support of his latest Action-Fantasy, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. The Film starring Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, is based on the internationally-adored graphic novel series Valérian and Laureline, set for release late July. The Film sees its two leads sent on a mission to Alpha where a dark force threatens a peaceful existence, tasked with protecting the future of the universe.
What are your earliest recollections of Valérian and Laureline and at what point did you decide to adapt it for the big screen?
Besson: “Actually, very late. I was a big fan of the comics since I was 10-years-old. It was a like a little treasure I kept inside me and I never thought about making a Film about it.”.
“Jean-Caude Mezieres (one of the creators of Valérian and Laureline) was working of The Fifth Element 20 years ago abd at one point he asked ‘Why are you doing this stupid 5th Element thing?’.”. “I read the comic again and it wasn’t possible with technology then with four characters and 2,000 aliens.”.
“We needed for Avatar to come along. Avatar was an open tool box. Cameron (James) made it all possible.”.
You’ve previously paired with the artistic greats like Moebius on The Fifth Element. Describe the importance of celebrating French artistry here too in adapting the graphic novels on which Valerian is based upon, to a worldwide audience.
Besson: “There is no nationality with art. No one asks you for a passport for your drawing.”.
“First is the story. What do you want to say to people? When this is done – and I spent a lot of time working on this – then I think what clothes I am gonna put on the script.”.
“For Valerian, I contacted artists around world and wound-up with a team 10 to 12 guys over three years from China, Brazil, American, France. They bring their own sensitivites and drew almost 6,00 drawings. I love tons of ideas coming.”. He adds, “There are over 2,000 costumes in Valerian.”.
“Storytelling is the main stone and I love to spend many, many months making it look better.”.
You have a great eye for talent. Describe for what went behind the inspired casting choices behind Valerian.
Besson: “I’m not sensitive to the marketing point of view. I try to take best actor for the part. If they’re well known and popular, great. If not, I still take it.”.
On stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, he says. “They’re only 25, so fresh and so young. It reminds me of when I was 16-years-old watching Star Wars and seeing Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. We didn’t know who these guys were.”.
Watch our Chat:
eOne Films release Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Friday, July 21, 2017.