Director Luc Besson's upcoming action movie Anna, currently being set up by Lionsgate and EuropaCorp, has landed Helen Mirren and Luke Evans to head up the cast. News of Anna comes after Besson himself refuted reports that he is cranking up a sequel to his 2014 Scarlett Johansson-starred sci-fi action thriller Lucy.
The always-interesting Besson's box office track record took a hit in summer 2017, when his hugely ambitious science fiction epic Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets tanked with audiences, grossing just $40 million domestically and $224 million worldwide against a reported budget of $177 million. Besson still means to go ahead with a sequel to Valerian despite the lukewarm reception for the first movie, which starred Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan as operatives battling an inter-galactic menace in an expansive, visually-stunning futuristic world.
Before he gets around to a sequel to Valerian, Besson will next tackle the action movie Anna, which is set to star Mirren and Evans (via Variety). Newcomer Sasha Luss will take on the title role in the Lionsgate and EuropaCorp co-production. Cillian Murphy has also been added to the movie's cast. The film will begin production in November and is set to be released under Lionsgate's Summit Entertainment banner.
Dame Helen Mirren, long regarded as one of the top film starlets in the world, has now established herself as a certified action star after roles in RED, RED 2 and The Fate of the Furious (and says she'll return for another Fast & Furious film if they let her drive next time). When she's not shooting at people in high-adrenaline action fare, Mirren still finds time for the occasional Oscar-worthy role in prestigious films, including the upcoming Winchester, in which she plays a Winchester firearms heiress haunted by the ghosts of people killed by the company's famed repeating rifle.
Helen Mirren's Fate of the Furious co-star Luke Evans is himself having a fine 2017, with a supporting role as Gaston in the blockbuster Beauty and the Beast and a lead role as the title character in the Wonder Woman real-life origin story Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. In the title role of Anna, Besson sticks with his habit of promoting young newcomers by casting Russian model Sasha Luss, who had a small role as Princess Lihö-Minaa in Valerian.
Details of Besson's Anna are being kept under wraps for the time being, but it's possibly telling that like Besson's Lucy, the title is the name of the feminine lead character (no doubt this will lead to speculation about Anna being a reworking of the allegedly not-happening Lucy 2). After the visually ambitious and very expensive Valerian failed to take off at the box office, it's safe to assume that Besson will be scaling things back a bit for his new action venture.