Luc Besson is most known for directing classics like Leon: The Professional, Nikita, and The Fifth Element. His distinctive filmmaking style sets him apart from others, where the visuals usually take precedence and aim to wow and stun viewers. This looks to be the case in his upcoming passion project Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, where he engages his filmmaking style to bring the comic to life on the big screen.
Screen Rant got a chance to sit down with Besson, where we asked him what drew him to the story of Valerian, how he uses his underwater experience to inspire his imagination, and whether or not the rumors are true about him working on Lucy 2.
This is probably a dream project for you. So what drew you to the story?
Luc Besson: In fact, there is two parts. The first part I discovered Valerian at ten. At the time, I have one TV channel in black and white at home. No walkman. No internet and these two pages every week, you know, in my little fanzine was the only thing I had to escape and to see Valerian and Laureline, two space agents traveling through time and space and kicking butts to aliens was just like woah! And that was my first souvenir. But twenty years later when I’m on the Fifth Element Mezieres, the original artist who invented Valerian, he is the one who said to me, “Why you don’t do Valerian?” And I never thought about it.
Luc Besson: No because it was a part of my childhood. So it’s like the process of like, for example, oh, I’m going to make a film about my mother.
Luc Besson: You know, like, you need to have a process for that. And I started to read it again. And I said, “Yeah. I didn’t do it because it is just impossible.” You really had to wait ten more years and then technically you can make it. You have to wait for Avatar. And Avatar makes everything possible.
You know, I know your parents are scuba divers and I know you that you spent a lot of time underwater as well and you can see the imagination in some of the scenes through Valerian. So what from your experience with that and your parents’ experience, what influenced some of the scenes that you were able to bring to the screen?
Luc Besson: It’s just opening your mind. When you go under the water and you don’t have the weight, you put a space suit basically and you are meeting aliens. It goes from a dolphin to an octopus to a sea urchin. It’s just amazing what they can create underwater and for me it’s exactly the same.
What did you learn from The Fifth Element that you may or may not have taken to Valerian?
Luc Besson: On The Fifth Element, it was a nightmare.
Luc Besson: Yeah. There is 188 shots in The Fifth Element. There is 2,734 in Valerian, so it’s two different worlds. And, at the time, it was the old-fashioned special effects. There is no digital so you want to do a green screen, they need the set for six hours.
Yeah. It was very practical.
Luc Besson: Yeah. I mean, it was very painful and I didn’t have the experience yet. So, yeah. I learned a lot. I learned a lot since then and I couldn’t make Valerian five years sooner and I’d probably will be too old five years from now, so it was just the perfect time between knowledge and freshness. It was just the perfect time to do it.
Well you brought the world in Valerian to life: every scene, every creature, everything! It was stunning! Now I know you are also rumored to be doing the Lucy 2 film. Is there any status updates on that?
Luc Besson: Oh, I heard the rumors also. Yeah?
That’s pretty much it. You’ve heard the rumors?
Luc Besson: No. I mean, I’m always very surprised to see how rumors can, I have nothing to hide. If I have to do a second one, I will say it. So, no. For now, no. [laughs]
Luc Besson: Well, I’m writing something else that has nothing to do with it. So, sometimes I see rumors and I go, “Oh my god. Really?” [laughs]
- Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) release date: Jul 21, 2017