Luc Besson is a French film director, screenwriter, and producer. He directed or produced the films Subway, The Big Blue, and Nikita. Besson is known for his distinctive filmmaking style and is associated with the movement critics call Cinéma du look.
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Hey, Reddit. I'm Luc Besson, director, screenwriter, and fan of all things scifi. Here’s your chance… AMA!
EDIT: Hey guys, thank you so much for joining. I’m off to shoot ANNA soon, so I’ll be back again with more questions from you I guess. In the meantime, be sure to check out Valerian on Digital HD November 7th (pre-order HERE), and then VOD, Blu Ray, and DVD 11/21. See you in space.
Are we ever going to get a sequel to Léon with Natalie Portman playing a grown Mathilda?
We never know....on one hand, I would love to see Mathilda older and I think that half of the people will love me for that and the other half will hate me for that. So I dont know what to do.
5th Element is my favorite movie, but I always wondered, why did Zorg not get his leg fixed?
Too expensive. He's frugal
What's the most annoying thing an actor can do when you are directing?
Not to know his lines.
How was it to work with Jean Reno and Gary Oldman in "Leon"?
Gary was amazing, inventive, and spectacular. Jean was, at the time, deeply in love and not concentrated. I had to fight with him. Good news is, he came back to his senses.
I took my 8 year old son to see Valerian, and we both really loved it. I was disappointed that the film didn't connect with American audiences, because I thought it was great fun.
Can you tell us what might have been in store for these characters in the sequel? Is there an ark that you had hoped to play out in the next film or films?
In the next one we will know much more about Laureline and Valerian and where they come from. Their past....
What do you think are the biggest differences between the French and American styles of film making?
French are deeper, but sometimes too deep. Americans are efficient and sometimes too efficient.
What are your favorite Sci-Fi books?
"The Stars My Destination" by Alfred Bester
As a filmmaker, which films would you identify as your biggest influences?
None. I'm more influenced by the life around me. My parents, the nature, the others....
What's your favorite comic book?
The Airtight Garage by Moeibus
Do you have any relationship/communication with Jodorowski?
I absolutely love The Fifth Element and don’t think it was stolen from him. But I love that it seemed inspired by his work.
I’d love to see you and he truly collaborate on a project someday.
He waited until Fifth Element became a huge success and after the DVD release, he sued me. Then he lost. I have nothing more to say about him
I really loved the 3D used in Valerian. It was some of the best 3D I have ever seen.
Why are they not releasing a 3D Blu-Ray of the film in the US?
I dont know but I'm going to ask
Additionally, what is your free diving depth record?
Good day, Luc. Any change we can get a digital release of The Big Blue with the Bill Conte score? Eric's was good, but I fell in love with the movie with Bill's music.
I hate Bill's music in the film. Sorry
I'm a huge fan of your work, especially Subway, so thanks for making the film world that much more interesting. Anyways, my question is:
What are your biggest issues with the current state of the film industry?
Business is taking everyday more space. Creativity sounds like a default. The result is the films get more and more pre-eaten. The fun of movies when I started was the fact that we can take risks. It's almost not the case anymore. A film is always made by a director, not a studio.
Were there any paticular influences leading to Gary Oldman's character in Leon? Also, was his love for Beethoven just a random choice or is there more to it than that?
No specific influence for the character. In terms of Beethoven, regarding the strength and the volume of his music, and the fact that he was deaf. :)
What movie do you wish you could re-make with your own unique spin?
We all know success takes time and talent, but how much luck do you think was involved in your success? Was there some big break that you'd like to share?
I get lucky for sure. But I provoke the luck a million times to get a chance.
Will you work with the greatest actor of our generation Ethan Hawke again? How was it working with him on Valerian?
I will work with him anytime. He's a great actor who deserves much more. He reminds me of Gary Oldman.
Any news on your next project?
I'm working on it. Starting the shooting in 10 days
Hey Luc, do you have a favourite line of dialogue that you’ve written? What is it?
Roberto Mio Palmos!
That's from the Big Blue and it doesn't make any sense in Italian.
Coincidentially, I've watched Le Dernier Combat last month again. Really love it. Where was such a low-budget post-apocalyptic movie filmed?
Everything was filmed in Paris with absolutely no authorization in destroyed buildings. The entire budget was $180,000
Susan Hayward argues in her book on you and your works that anit-establishment and anti capitalist themes can be read in many of your early films, specifically regarding the commodification of women in Nikita and the rejection of mainstream society by Jacques.
Do you agree with her analysis and do you subscribe to any such views/ideologies?
In a way, yes. But I think it's the mission of art in any form. Art is not an anti-establishment view (in a literal sense). But art always proposes another view from another angle, from another mirror.
Will there be a sequel to Adele blanc sec?
I would love to. Maybe a TV series...
What advice do you have for someone not in Hollywood looking to get their writing portfolio in the hands of producers or agents who can sell their work?
Most of the people send their work too soon. You have to work again and again on your script until you don't know how to make it better. That's the signal that you should send it to someone to read.
Any plans on working with Jean Reno and Eric Serra again?
Let's have a dinner first
On a scale from 1 to 10, how annoyed are you that people keep asking you a sequel to The 5th Element/Leon/Whatever movie?
What's your favorite type of shoes to wear?
Why do you think The Big Blue didnt do as well outside of France?
Let's rephrase your question: why didn't the Big Blue work in America? Probably because the distributor sold the film like: Rambo Under Water and I don't think it was the best way to sell it. Then in the rest of the world the film worked damn good.
Luc, I haven't seen all of your work (I plan to watch Leon and Nikita soon), but I adore the Fifth Element and admire some qualities about Valerian (I think it could've been a lot better, though).
I have a few questions about Valerian, if you don't mind:
1) What inspired the Big Market scene, and the opening with Alpha's construction? Those were my favorite parts of the film, aside from Bubble's dance :)
2) What did Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin think of the film? Do you know?
3) Alexandre Desplat gave the film a fantastic score. Was he your first choice, and how did you get him involved with the project?
1) I got the idea of Big Market almost 20 years ago by going through an x-ray machine and seeing myself in two different ways: 1 in flesh and 1 in bones. It's still me but it's two different representations. That's the beginning of the idea of Big Market.
2) Jean-Claude and Pierre waited almost 50 years to see a film about Valerian and Laureline. They were crying when they watched it. I was crying too. Everybody was crying. We are such babies.
3) Alexandre was my first choice. It was just a pure pleasure working with him.
which sci-fi films inspire jealousy in that you wish you had made them but could not do better, and which sci-fi films inspire anger in that you know you could have made them better?
Jealousy and anger are the worst engines to create. Desire, admiration, excitement are the good ones. 2001 is stunning. Brazil is unforgettable, the first Alien is a beacon, and the first Star Wars is just pure genius.
Why did you decide to form your own production company and stop working with Gaumont? What have been the pros and cons of the change?
Gaumont is an old lady that I love and respect but when you're 18 years old you want to discover and redefine the world and as you know, your parents are always against it. So you have to cut the rope and go for your own experience.
Gaumont is an old lady that I love and respect. But when you're 18 you want to discover and redefine the world so you have to cut the rope with your parents and experience the world by yourself.
Marvel or DC?
Would you ever revisit the characters from The Fifth Element? Like in an actual sequel or a book/comic book continuation of Corbin and Leelo's story?
I love the characters, but I started to write the story when I was 16, so it's a little far and I want to move on.
Have so many questions to ask so I'll make mines count
If you had a chance will you consider doing a super hero movie? If yes what DC/Marvel character would you love to direct?
What is your favorite horror film?
There are a lot of Anime/Japanese and Korean Manga stories that will be great to do as a movie (example: Akira/ Ghost in a Shell). Is this something you would consider doing?
If you were to show a friend/fan round who has never been to France or any favorite place in the world, what little known cafe, restraurant or area would you say they should check out?
1) I'm not very interested
2) I don't like horror films. Too scary. I have nightmares after.
3) There is something very special with the Japanese creativity. I think we shouldn't touch it, and we should appreciate it the way it is. If they want to make a film, they should do it. Not us.
4) Have a chocolate on Piazza San Marco in Venice (not in LA!!!!)
Would you ever consider making a more morose style sci-fi film, perhaps similar to an expanded version of Philip K Dick's Electric Ant or I Hope I Shall Arrive Soon?
Sorry, I dont know the references you mention
Have you watched/read The Expanse?
Any chance in getting the "The Story Of..." books released in English? I have lost the 5th Element book and my French isn't as good to read the Story of Leon (which I have in French)
We're working on it. Hopefully soon.
Which edition of Léon do you prefer: Theatrical or International/Extended Cut?
The Extended Cut.
Taxi is one of my favourite films, it seems you have a certain style for crazy multi car pile ups in your car films. When are we going to see one again?
They are shooting Taxi 5 right now. Actually their last day of shooting is Friday.
Hey Luc, after the less enthusiastic response to the latest entry, is the transporter franchise officially dead now? Is the planned trilogy not going ahead?
The good thing about movies and characters...they never really died.
Why do you think Velerian wasn’t able to bring in a wider audience? Do you think it’s because the source material wasn’t known that well to the general public?
I think today there's so many films to watch, so many solicitations, that if the promotion is not well made, no one is aware.
Hi! I loved the editing decisions in Lucy - especially the idea to intercut symbolic shots of animals with the story. I was wondering what inspired that choice?
BTW, love your work! :)
The end of the film is pretty damn difficult to swallow so I wanted to prep the audience from the beginning to have their brain open. So by intercutting you are obliged to think differently and be much more open and clever.
What are some of your favorite films of the past few years?
Avatar, Whiplash, Miss Sloane, Get Out......those are the first that came out of my mind
Thank you for making Leon. It's one of my favorites and I saw it in the theater 4 or 5 times.
What was it like working with Jean Reno on this film?
Jean is my best friend (with Eric Serra) since I was 17. Being next to him is always a pleasure no matter if we're working or not.
Jean Reno (and Eric Serra) are my best friends since I was 17. Being with them is always a pleasure, whether we're working or not.
Of all the elements, which is your favorite?
The final shot in Léon has a guitar part that leads into "Shape of my Heart" that isn't on Sting's album. Did you get Dominic Miller to record that introduction just for the movie?
Could you tell us a bit about Anna ?
Hey Luc, l love "Le Grand Bleu", Leon and Valerian.
Which one of those do you like most?
It's like asking someone "which kid of yours do you prefer?"
Is there any chance we'll ever revisit the world created by The Fifth Element? Not necessarily with the same heroes/villains, what kind of stories would you tell minus Dallas Korban and Leelo?
I love the film and the characters, but I started writing the Fifth Element when I was 16, so I guess it's time for me to move on.
The Fifth Element and Leon are two of my favorite movies of all time. Was there ever any pressure to try to follow these movies up with sequels? To me, they are perfect movies, and stand well on their own, but in this day and age, studios want to franchise everything. Was there ever an idea for The Fifth Element 2?
I'm not very sensitive to pressure. I try to be honest with myself. If I find a good idea for a sequel, whatever the film is, I will do it.
Is there anything that can be done for the horror genre to make it interesting or creative?
The biggest horror film ever made is playing on the news everyday at 8pm.
When making LEON, were you at all influenced by the movies of John Woo?
Not at all. I love John Woo and his style, but I'm far from him.
The Fifth Element soundtrack was dedicated to Moby Bubble Duck. Who or what was that?
I think it's a special dedication from Eric Serra and I don't have the answer.
We've seen a TON of new, thought provoking sci-fi in recent years. Are there any films specifically that you wish you could have directed?
Huge fan of 5th Element! Did you get to keep any props from that movie for yourself? If so, which ones?
Also, I'd kill for something signed by you! Cheers!
I keep the model of the boat Flhoston Paradise.
Thank you Luc for all of your work! Valerian pulled me from my sit and into a beautiful world!
If you could offer a piece of advice..directing/filming is a passion of mine, how can one grow, within themselves, in your opinion, as a filmmaker?
Two things to do: never lie to yourself and open your senses 24 hours per day. Stories are everywhere around you, in the air, in the people, in the nature, everywhere.
What is the next big project you are going to be working on?
Shooting ANNA in 10 days
What was your favorite movie to direct? Like, fun wise?
It's never fun because I'm so dedicated. Most of the time I finish exhausted with 10 extra kilos. So it's fun like crossing the Atlantic on a 10 meter boat.
Bonjour, Luc! Im a big fan of your films, and the cast for Anna looks great so far!
Is there anyone in Hollywood that you have yet to work with that you would be excited to collaborate with?
So many actors and actresses are amazing. So I would be happy to work with many of them. My only question is always the same: who is the best for the part?