Question: What made now the right time to make the film?

Luc Besson: You couldn’t make it before. It was impossible. I never thought about it for many years. And I did The Fifth Element and Mezieres, the artist of Valerian; he was working on Fifth Element. And he’s actually the one who say, why don’t you do Valerian? And I said because we can’t make it. And you really have to wait for Avatar and to suddenly think oh okay, maybe we can think of it. But before Avatar, just forget it. I have like 10 actors and 100 aliens in the film. And they come from the four corners of the universe. Some of them are liquid. Some of them are just [so visually] crazy.


Question: How hard was it to find the right actors, Dane and Cara?

Luc Besson: Cara I wanted to be sure that she would be involved. ‘Cause she didn’t do a lot of films before I met her, so I didn’t know if she was serious and so I push her a bit. I saw her like five, six times. And I was never talking about the film. And then at the end, I say okay, let’s do some test. She says yeah, yeah, good. So I took her in the room, and I test her for like six hours non-stop. Exercise, exercise, exercise for six hours. It was actually funny. And then I knew at the end of the six hours. What a director is looking for is someone who will follow you and no matter what. And if you ask for blue, he’s gonna try blue. And if you say, give me a piece of red with it, and they try. And you don’t mind so much if it’s difficult to get the blue and the red together. As long as they try. And as long as they give everything they can to give you what you want. That’s what I’m looking for. Why you want blue? I’m not sure about blue because you know blue, I’ve seen that before. That’s what I hate. You know, like if you’re a musician you take the partition of Mozart you say, why is the flute is going so high? Play fucking Mozart and shut the fuck up. You know. And Dane I met him in the bar, the restaurant. And I knew after 10 seconds that was him. No doubt. I mean, he comes in and you know it’s him. Just talk, his voice, his eyes, that’s it. Then I get scared, because between the moment I knew it was him I have to wait the moment he read the script and he like it and he say yes. So it takes like few days where you’re like ‘oh fuck, fuck, fuck.’ You don’t want to think so much. But I wish he could say yeah. And then he calls me back and said, ‘my God, it’s insane, I’m in.’


Question: When you have a trailer with a bold song like this, bold music choice, it makes me wonder what is the music gonna be like in the actual film?

Luc Besson: He start Monday. So I can’t tell you exactly.

Question: Who’s that?

Luc Besson: We talked a lot with the musician. And for now there are few options, and I give him few weeks to come and surprise me with something. I don’t want to start and say, okay here is what I want. Because maybe he has an idea that is better than mine. You know, so I tell him what I want. But I say, okay, for now, you are free for a couple of weeks to digest the thing and see what’s coming from you.

Question: But it’s gonna be all traditional score, it’s not gonna be pop songs?

Luc Besson: No, probably classical probably. We don’t know yet if there is a place for a theme. Which is very interesting because of the rhythm of the film in the ’70s and ’80s like Star Wars and the film before that… I’m a big Star Wars fan, so nothing against the film, but the rhythm was way more, you know, [MAKES NOISE] They come in, they walk, they open the door, they talk. You know, it’s another rhythm. With this rhythm, you have the time to put theme. Today with the Internet and the way that people are watching films, it’s so fast that you don’t have the time to place themes in the film anymore. It’s very strange. It goes too fast. They finish the line, boom, open, tack; they take the thing, the door, up, another line. You know, it’s the rhythm of today. You can’t escape that. So I don’t know if we will have themes in a classical way.


Question: What has been the biggest surprise for you in the process of making this?

Luc Besson: Not the biggest surprise, but… If we wanted to make it the way I imagined I knew that we would have to wake up earlier and start very early. So we prep like crazy. And the competition you have is like Avatar, you have Star Wars, you have all the big Marvel stuff.  So if you want to come in the race, you know, don’t be pretentious. Be humble and say okay, all right, I have to prep myself. So everybody prepped, and we finished the film four days before the end. We were so ready that we were early, which is unheard of in the history of the sci-fi film. We were so concentrated. My biggest surprise is probably the level of involvement of all the artists who participated at every level. I was kind of surprised that, about 99 percent of the people grabbed the thing and [MAKES NOISE] You know it’s their thing. And I’m very impressed by that. Like Weta and ILM, it’s the first time they work together. They are fighting. There’s no way that Weta will be better than us and then the other said, no way that ILM will be better than us. So they like fight. I don’t even have to do anything. I say, okay, approved, it’s good. They say, no, no, no, we gonna come back with something else. Then okay. You know, it’s not my film, it’s really their film. It’s very strange. And maybe because it’s more when you comes to the Marvel films it’s way much more organized and plan, you know, they planned. Okay, we have Thor here, we have this and then we do The Avengers, and then we group. You know, it’s much more organized. So maybe there is a little less freedom at the end for the creative people. Where I did the entire opposite. I let them help me, you know. So that’s also why maybe they were so involved.

[We moved to his editing room where he showed up concept art and shots on his computer]


Luc Besson: That’s an original drawing from one of the five guys. That’s the drawing that we worked with at the beginning. It’s coming inside the station — Alpha Station. The idea that comes in later is that the circle is like a veil. When you go through it, it reads all the information of the spaceship. Who is it for? Are there parasites? Whatever you have inside, we will know it. That’s one angle. That’s the reverse. The idea was to lose totally the horizontal. We never know where we are. One of the prominent ways to resolve it was the gravity and how it works. The gravity is in the ground all the time. For example, in your house, you have the heater on the ground itself. Here, it’s the gravity. No matter where you are, that’s where the gravity is coming from. It’s almost like a carpet that you put down. If you’re on the other side, it doesn’t matter to us because we’re still walking on the ground. Actually, at the beginning of the film, we see when they install the gravity system.

Luc Besson: So now we have that in reverse. That’s the storyboard that we have in the beginning. It’s an easy shot. It’s just a spaceship coming in. That’s the first layout. On the first layout, we see the timing of the shot and the speed. It starts to get some shadows, and we see that everything is moving in the back. Now we have some spaceships. It comes to life. This isn’t the latest one, but it’s close. But it’s not totally finished. This is way too clear. The flare is too big. I want to see more details. I want to see that this thing is turning. We have to reduce this here so that we see the thing turning on the back more. You see? Otherwise, we don’t see it enough. We see it’s turning, but it’s not clear now. The flare is too big. It makes it a little fake.

Question: But that’s a pretty gorgeous shot.

Luc Besson: With no actors!


Question: What are those globe things that look like the EPCOT globe?

Luc Besson: Those are aliens living in their own environments. That’s Alpha Station, which is the city of a thousand planets. It’s a space station where everyone in the universe comes with their knowledge. It’s a city of science, Broadway, Wall Street, Shibuya, Pigalle. It’s everything you want in one place. Anything you want to build, the knowledge will be in there. It makes a very special place. Who controls Alpha is obviously an issue because you could do whatever you want with the knowledge they have. The United Nations is there. Everyone is there. So that’s the second example. That’s a KORTAN DAHUK. That’s the first alien we see in the film. That’s another artist. The first one was Chinese, the one with the space station. This one is American. Personally, that’s my favorite alien. I love him. I love his profile and his face. There is such a sweetness and almost a sadness in his face.

Question: Do you return to the artists throughout the process?

Luc Besson: After that, I chose 15 guys. There’re the five major guys. After, there’s guys where I can give him the KORTAN DAHUK and he’s going to design the weapon which goes with it. The object who goes with it. I don’t need the main guy to do that. There’s guys that, if they’re inspired by him, can do it. In fact, I don’t think the original guy did his weapon or the communications system. That’s his communications system there.

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