Director Luc Besson is under scrutiny today following rape allegations from a French actress. The veteran filmmaker of such science fiction and action classics as Leon: The Professional, La Femme Nikita, and The Fifth Element — as well as, most recently, critical dud Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets — has refused to comment on the investigation, which is now active.
Besson is being accused by a yet-unnamed 27-year-old French actress who claims to have known the director for years. She alleges that the “violent sexual assault” occurred on Thursday, May 10, at the Le Bristol Hotel near the Champs-Elysées in Paris. While the actress also states that she has had a prior sexual relationship with Besson, she claims that, during this meeting, he drugged her tea at the hotel, which eventually caused her to lose consciousness. She then says that awoke to find Besson sexually assaulting her. Afterward, Besson allegedly left her an undisclosed amount of money before departing the hotel.
According to Europe 1 the actress spent the night at a friend’s home, for reasons of safety, before reporting the incident to local police in Paris the following morning. Besson has refrained from commenting, but his lawyer Thierry Marembert, made a statement to THR, saying: "Mr. Besson fell from his chair when he learned of these accusations, which he flatly denies."
Luc Besson has been noted for often centering actresses in his action films, including Milla Jovovich, who was briefly married to him in 1997, the same year that his lauded science fiction adventure The Fifth Element was released. While he has seen continued success as a director, writer, and producer — including Taken, the film which may have helped redefine Liam Neeson as an action lead — he recently struggled with his passion project Valerian and The City of a Thousand Planets, which did not find critical or financial success in the US.
While the news of this recent allegation is still ongoing, France’s relationship to the #MeToo movement cannot help but color these new developments. French actresses Catherine Deneuve and Brigitte Bardot made headlines earlier this year when they denounced #MeToo in a joint letter, although Deneuve later apologized for those statements. And with recent headlines coming out of Cannes Film Festival, it's possible that what's been happening to accused filmmakers in Hollywood may start to bleed over to France.