Luc Besson: Now that’s the storyboard with him. That’s the shooting. It looks very simple, but my job was to teach him how to walk. Look at the way he walks. There is something almost animal. I have to show the actor different animals like an ostrich. Many different kinds of animals. Pink flamingo. Just for him to be inspired. I put strange things under his shoes. That’s the difference, in fact. Just the way he walks. The two others are not so good. The one in front is really good. That’s the first test on the background. As you can see, there’s a part of the costume. Weta wants those, so we have the arm bit and the color, a piece of the hat. Now it’s the first, and that’s the latest one. But then we’ll have people who will watch the film and say, “Yeah, yeah. That’s easy. Where are we going to eat?” Sometimes I see people finish a film and they go, “Yeah, that was good. Where are we going to eat?”

Question: Is all the imagery from the comics?

Luc Besson: The principal manifestation, yeah. It’s in “Ambassador of Shadows”. I mean, there’s a couple of moments.


Question: How detailed do the alien races get?

Luc Besson: We have a bible that’s 600 pages. There are five pages on each alien and where they come from. Even the address you can check on the map. On the star map. It’s real numbers.

Question: Will you publish that?

Luc Besson: I don’t know. I wrote the entire history of Alpha because the space station was around for 500 years. I have 30 pages on the history of Alpha. Every ten years what happens. They took control and what happened. Every 80 years, they have to change the communication system because it doesn’t work anymore. Some aliens come with new technology, and suddenly you can change the electric system. We wrote the entire story. When Cara and Dane arrived, I told their agent, “They need to know all this.” I gave them the 600 pages. I said, “You have to learn everything. You’re a cop. You need to know the names.” I don’t want him, when he meets an alien to go, “Whoa” like this. I want him to know if this guy is peaceful. What is the history of the human race? Maybe we were fighting before, but now we’re friends. It’s the equivalent of, “Are they Russian? Are they Swiss? Are they Italian?” It’s the same. If you’re someone from the government and you meet people from other countries, you want to know who you’re dealing with. It’s the same for them. They have to come. The KORTAN DAHUK, there are always three. They are translators, and they speak 8,000 languages. Their brain is divided into three parts. One of them starts a line; the next one continues a line, and the third one finishes the line. If you kill one of them, you lose the information. So you can’t kill them, or you lose everything. They’re very polite, and they’re in the business of selling information to everyone. So when they come, you’re always pissed off to see them coming. First, they’re going to sell you something. Usually, they sell you information that, in five minutes, isn’t going to be a problem anymore. Usually, they come right before a problem. When you see them, you know the problem is coming. When you see them coming, if I’m Valerian or Laureline, I’m going to go, “I don’t believe this. What do you want?” the attitude I have is because I know the history. You have to write it because they need to know. I’m sure they forgot. But I was tricky. There were times I would come on set and go, “The KORTAN DAHUK? Where do they come from?” Even I sometimes forgot myself.

Question: Because of that history, could you move forward or backward at that location in future films?

Luc Besson: The two detectives are, as we call them in French, Spatio-Temporal. That means that they can travel in space as well as time. But the spaceship they have, it’s an XB980. The B model is able to go to 30 centuries on average. The A model can’t go in time. It can go in space, but only in this galaxy. The B model can go 1,000 million lightyears. It’s a very powerful spaceship.


Question: What can you tell us about the other aliens in the trailer? There was a blue alien picking flowers or something.

Luc Besson: They are farmers, in fact.


Question: There was another that looked like an inspector. He was looking at something under a magnifying glass.

Luc Besson: That’s AUGIN SYRUS (?) He’s a mercenary. He’s a bad guy. He’s not nice. The BULONG (??) farmers, they grow cobalt in water. The first ones, the KORTAN DAHUK are travelers. They were the first to have arrived on Alpha a long time ago. They’re travelers. They don’t go through space the way we go because we take time and travel. They have a map of holes. It’s almost like a short cut. You go in here, and then you appear here. They have a map of all the holes. That’s why they’re the first ones we met because they travel through holes. But they share. They share because they’re nice.

Question: Would you publish a book of everything?

Luc Besson: I don’t know. If some of you are interested, you can talk with her. If there’s a specific article or something you want to do, they can give you the thing to read.

Question: Does the movie begin just hitting the ground running or do you have some sort of historic recap?

Luc Besson: We will see the history of Alpha. That’s the beginning. It’s in the credits. Credits and we’re done. We know where we are. The credits are very funny. It’s basically hundreds and hundreds of years of history, beginning in 1975 with Apollo and Soyuz meeting. That’s the beginning of Alpha. Then the Europeans come and the Chinese come and the station grows, grows, grows. In 2100, the first alien wants to join. We say yes. Then the second alien and, fifty years later, it’s fat. They decide to take the station out of the terrestrial attraction because, if it falls, it would be catastrophic. So they push it out. It goes in the current in space. Then the story starts 500 years later. When we get back to the station, it’s 50 times bigger than when we left it. It looks like this when we come back. When we left it, it was just like a mile in diameter. Now it’s 18. It grows very fast, like Shanghai.


Question: What is the film’s runtime?

Luc Besson: Two hours and nine minutes.

Question: Do I need to see this in 3D?

Luc Besson: You can, honestly.

Question: [Laughs] I can?

Luc Besson: I’m not a super big fan of 3D. But, once in awhile, like “Avatar” in 3D, it’s amazing. There are a couple of films I’d rather be watching in 2D. But I saw the teaser yesterday in 3D. I hope you can see that in 3D. The shot of the canyon in 3D is [amazing]. You see all the levels. The 3D is very impressive. I’m amazed by the conversion. I don’t know how they do it.

Question: Is that runtime what you were shooting for or would you want even longer?

Luc Besson: No, it’s two agents and one mission. You don’t need to do more than two hours. Most films, when it passes 2 hours 20 — except “Avatar”… But I do it myself. So two hours nine and that’s it. It’s already long, two hours and nine minutes. But the film is fat, so you have things to watch. But I see some movies that are 2 hours 40. I mean, it’s just what I like personally. But I try to make what I like as an audience. Even if I love, love, love a film, I try to think, “Can I cut ten minutes?”


Question: I’m curious about how the time travel works. Do they come from another time than when the story takes place?

Luc Besson: No, they’re from the time. They are able to, by certain rules, go to the past if they want. They can’t go to the future. That’s impossible. But they can go to the past, maximum 30 centuries. You need specific authorization. In this film, they don’t go into the past. Maybe in the second. It’s a bit complicated already. In the comic, time travel is very tricky. You need a specific order. You can’t touch anything. You can’t change anything. It’s very specific. They are allowed only to go to the past to fix some disorder. They’re cops. If someone goes and makes a mess in the 12th century, they’re allowed to go and get the guy and put everything back. They can’t do just anything in the past.

Please note: The above interview was conducted with myself and three other journalists in a roundtable format. I have also tried to clean up some of Besson’s responses to read clearer in English. Enjoy!

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