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Luc Besson talks about District 13 II

Luc Besson talks about Angel-A, B13 and Hitman.

Luc Besson talks about District 13 II

Luc Besson fans have had to wait a while for a Luc Besson film. He produced and wrote a lot but his last directing gig was The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. Then this year we got two. Arthur and the Invisibles disappeared early in January and the new one looks to play the arthouse circuit, but it’s still Luc. Angel-A is a black and white French film about a beautiful woman (Rie Rasmussen) saving a loser from his life of failed schemes. It’s a nice, sentimental change of pace, but Luc Besson: has more crazy ideas coming too.

CraveOnline: Why did you think of Rie Rasmussen when she doesn’t speak French?

Luc Besson: There is no one who looks like her in France. No, it’s an alchemy between, it’s not so much about finding her. It’s finding her and him at the same time because you can’t have one and not the other. You have to choose them in the same time almost. I met her as a director first because she wants to do her short film. So I never mentioned the film, I never talked about the film to her. A month later, I met Jaumel. Then it starts to work in my head and say, “Oh, hold on a minute, him and her. That could be cool.”

CraveOnline: Why did you take so much time off from directing?

Luc Besson:: I know it looks like that from outside but I finished Joan of Arc, I rested for a couple of months, like two or three, and then I started to work on Arthur and the Invisibles. Actually, I started to work on the film when I was in the editing of Joan of Arc, some sketches and things. The making of Arthur was five years long. So that’s why. I was not on the beach, believe me.

CraveOnline: In any case, why go back to make a French film after so long in Hollywood?

Luc Besson: Honestly, it depends on the story. Nikita looks like a kind of action film in a way but it was French for me in my head. It was French. It’s how the French government looks, very polite and buildings and things and how they can hide things. They are the specialists of that. They are worse than the Americans. But when I go to Leon for example, I love the fact Leon is from Italy and is an immigrant in New York and New York is so big and he’s so small that he’s invisible. There’s multi-culture and Mathilda is, you know. I feel the film more in English in New York. I’m really driven by the story in fact. The fact that I’m pretty naked in this film. I’m 45 years old and I talk about this man who lied all his life and decided not to anymore, which is really the story of every man. So because I was so naked, I think the fact to be in French, to be in Paris was closest to me. I would lie a little more if it was in English in another city. It would be another way of hiding myself more.

CraveOnline: Was there any place in Paris you couldn’t film?

Luc Besson: No.

CraveOnline: You were allowed everywhere?

Luc Besson: Oh, I didn’t say I was allowed but if there is a place where I can’t shoot, no. There are some shots that were no authorization at all.

CraveOnline: Do they look the other way in France because it’s you?

Luc Besson: It’s the good thing about being popular. A few times the cops arrived and I just smiled and said, “Hey, it’s me.” “Oh, Mr. Besson, can we take a picture?” They’re sweet in France, the cops honestly. It’s not tough as here. Here where they ask for my paper, I don’t crack jokes. I’m like okay. You really feel strong which is, in a way which is good.

CraveOnline: Why did you choose black and white?

Luc Besson: Black and white because yin and yang, because tall and small, introverted extroverted, blonde brown, the good the bad, the black the white, everything is in opposition in the film. And I need the film to have this little poetry. Is it real? Is it a dream? Is it a fairy tale? So I have the black and white, I have the frame and I have the music to give a mood because I need the people to believe at the end that yeah, of course she’s going to have wings and she’s going to go. To make it believable, I need for an hour to relax you, like almost a massage. You have the music like do do do do. Kind of mood where you can actually just enjoy the scene and believe it. You say, “Oh my God, no, she’s going to leave.” So color is very crude. It’s the news. It’s 8PM, blood, war. It’s like ugh, it’s rough.

CraveOnline: Was it shot in color and converted, or was it really black and white?

Luc Besson: It was shot in color but we treat the film at the lab before the shoot first. But the thing about the black and white is as you know, the green, the red, the yellow, they don’t react the same way in black and white so lots of tests, especially on clothes and interiors and clubs and things. We test every type of thing. But the main thing is the light in Paris, because as you know, they built the city at the time where the electricity didn’t exist. So they were very careful with light. Very careful, the angle of buildings, they studied winter, summer, how it’s working so it’s such a pleasure to shoot in this type of city because you just have to wait for the right hour and it’s magical. So I send my assistant, for example on the bridges of Paris, every bridge, every hour, four pictures, north, south, east, west and I have big books of all the bridges at every hour and I knew, you decide which scene you shoot at what time on which bridge. So sometimes there is a scene where we have 40 minutes of the perfect sun. So we rehearse, rehearse, rehearse a few days before, then we arrived and we shoot very fast. Then we get out.

CraveOnline: What can you tell us about the B13 sequel?

Luc Besson: We’re not going to do it.

CraveOnline: Why not?

Luc Besson: I don’t know, I don’t feel it.

CraveOnline: Would you at least use those guys in a different setting?

Luc Besson: I’d rather do District 13 2 with the same guys in France. We’re going to do a sequel in France.

CraveOnline: Wait a minute, I just asked you that.

Luc Besson: Oh, I thought you were talking about the remake in English. Ah, sorry, sorry, I’m sorry. We’re going to do a sequel. But at the certain moment, there’s a big studio who asked us to remake the film and I said no.

CraveOnline: Well, that’s fine. So what’s coming up for the French sequel?

Luc Besson: It’s going to be just a little bit more funny I think, the second one.

CraveOnline: How about Transporter 3?

Luc Besson: Yeah. Probably March/April.

CraveOnline: Will you still write it?

Luc Besson: Mm-hmm. It’s too much fun.

CraveOnline: Would you ever go back to sci-fi?

Luc Besson: Maybe. I think I think of it. Not before two or three years. I got an idea I think.

CraveOnline: Can you share?

Luc Besson: No, just I could say no but I tell you the truth so at least you know that. I start to have the ending which is good. Let’s not blow the flame. It won’t be the sequel of The Fifth Element for sure. But in fact, I did The Fifth Element at probably the wrong moment because I was so frustrated to see that a year after that, the tools that we had to do special effects went from five to 50. For me it was a nightmare. I have to work 12 hours to do one still shot with the blue screen and the thing. I was so frustrated to see two or three years later how easy it was. Even on Joan of Arc, I did some handheld during the battle and the guy could put back the fortress in the background. He tells me, “No, no, shoot. Don’t worry. I will do it after.” I say okay. I was used to I put the camera for six hours and I have to wait on things. So that frustrated me and I really would love to do another sci-fi where I can be much more free with the special effects.

CraveOnline: Are you also involved in the Hitman movie?

Luc Besson: Yeah. I have a very good relation with Fox and they have the rights of Hitman and they want to shoot the film in Europe. They called me and said, “Can you do it with us because you know Europe better than us.” And I said yeah. I was flattered that they thought about me and I like them a lot. They are very good guys over there.

CraveOnline: Do you know how to make a good video game movie?

Luc Besson: No, I don’t know how. I don’t have a computer so I don’t play games.

CraveOnline: Is there anything you want to make that you haven’t yet?

Luc Besson: No. Otherwise I will.

CraveOnline: Are you also doing two more Arthur’s?

Luc Besson: Yeah, this summer, two and three. But you know that Fifth Element, which is 10 years ago, was a trilogy. And my producer didn’t have the guts. Finally, I’m the only one but I have to mix the three together to only one. I had to squeeze the three scripts into one.

CraveOnline: Could you do more effects with the same money now?

Luc Besson: It’s not so much a question of money. It’s a question of imagination. And how to be able to do it. You have an idea but before, you can’t do it. The Fifth Element was a nightmare. Some shots, just her jumping with the cars, you do that now like this [snaps fingers.] It was a nightmare.

CraveOnline: So what’s the timeline for your upcoming projects?

Luc Besson: I’m producing another called Taken with Liam Neeson with the director of District 13. They are shooting here. I was there last night on the set. That’s good. Liam Neeson’s going to be wonderful in it. It’s an action film, very intense. I have another one, Transporter probably March and April next year. Then another one called From Paris with Love which is an action film also we’re going to shoot next year. Then two other animated films, one called A Monster in Paris which is a great film from the guy who did, it’s a French guy who works on an animated from Dreamworks but I don’t remember which one. And we did another animated film called Ruby Tuesday with the Rolling Stones, 12 songs of the Rolling Stones. It’s an animated film with 12 songs of the Rolling Stones. It’s going to be great too. And a couple of French films.

CraveOnline: If you had only one day in Paris, what would you recommend to do?

Luc Besson:: I will say the Musee D’orsay. Le Louvre, okay, it’s great, La Jaccone and everything, okay. It’s wonderful the Louvre but D’orsay, the pieces that are in the museum are in fact, like for example, three centuries ago, a little town hall in the middle of France, they asked a painted to do a painting for the hall. So it’s the state who made the command, please do a painting, please do a sculpture and that’s all the things that belong to the state that went into this museum. So it gives you such a reflect of deeply what was France. Not only the big, big Modigliani and things. Just like the people from the place actually who did the thing. It’s an old train station, the museum in fact. Before it was a train station and they turned it into a museum, so you have such a feeling of it’s probably the one that represents the most who we are.