Luc Besson, whose sci-fi/action film Lucy was a commercial hit in 2014, is hard at work on the upcoming space epic/opera, Valerian. The film is based on the popular French comic book series of the same name (created by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres), and features a time-travelling agent charged with protecting the Terran Empire from paradoxes in the time stream. The comic remains one of the best-selling comics of all time, except in the United States, and even inspired hits like Star Wars and Besson's own The Fifth Element.
Besson is pouring everything he's got into Valerian, including a budget of $180 million, and massive world-building from three major visual effects teams: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM), Weta Digital, and Rodeo FX. Additionally, the film already supports a small but noticeable cast - and now, Besson has added another key player to the cast.
Besson announced today, through his Instagram account, that Rihanna is joining the cast of Valerian. The role remains unspecified, but Luc Besson promises she has a "big part." Rihanna joins Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), Cara Delevingne (Paper Towns), and Clive Owen (Children of Men) as part of the cast. Valerian will begin filming in Besson's native country of France in January 2016.
Rihanna, of course, is known for her catchy pop songs, but this isn't the first time she has dabbled in acting. In 2012 she made her big-screen debut as Petty Officer Cora Raikes in Battleship, and more recently lent her voice to the DreamWorks animated feature film, Home.
Many questions remain about Rihanna's involvement with Valerian, given that there's not an obvious role for her to play. She could end up portraying one of the heroes, villains, or perhaps even play a motion-capture character (like Andy Serkis and Lupita Nyong'o are doing in the upcoming Star Wars: The Force Awakens). Perhaps Rihanna will lend her singing voice to the picture, even; let's not forget the memorable Diva Plavalaguna performance from The Fifth Element, after all.
Given the limited amount of acting Rihanna's actually done, it's difficult to make too many judgments at this point about whether she'll make for a good addition to Valerian... or just a distraction, being a famous pop musician and whatnot. At the very least, this casting will bring all the more attention to Valerian - a film that a lot of pop-music fans (and Rihanna fans in general) might've otherwise let slide by.
Valerian is slated for theatrical release in the U.S. on July 21st, 2017.
Source: Luc Besson