MovieViral was able to participate in a roundtable discussion with ‘Lucy’ director Luc Besson (The Fifth Element) after a WonderCon presentation for his upcoming picture. Hit the jump to learn the five most important things we learned during the talk about the movie, it’s inspiration and his craft.
Luc Besson is known for his action pictures, he shared some insight as to how he doesn’t harken back to his other films in his sequences and how he chooses to remain as inventive as ever:
Besson: It’s the wrong thing to do. A film has been digested by someone already. It’s like people when they get married from the same family, they make babies and at the end they make monsters because it’s same blood and they look ugly. So you have to be careful, you have to. You know if you digest a film and do it (another) on the top of it. It’s no good. I try not to think about it. I think about my scene and the location I have. What is the energy? When it becomes strange, when it becomes funny–Where the lines are coming (from).
Creativity is a little flame. The business is a hair machine to try to blow the flame all day long. You’re surrounded by these blowers. And you have to protect your little flame. So I really protect myself a lot. I spend more time on my bike, on McDonald’s, on people, watching trees and clouds, on meeting people who don’t know me and they tell me their story. That’s my food, you know. You need to feel, you need to take everything. Every film even Lucy is filled with details I’ve seen in the last twenty years. You feed the film with that. You can’t feed the film with the business.
On where his inspiration for Lucy came from:
Besson:Uhh…(Points to his head) Here! (Laughs) In fact I had a discussion a long time ago–probably like twenty years ago. I was doing a presentation in a city, I don’t remember which one, and the mayor always wants to invite you after to dinner. Then they always sit a pretty girl next to me (and in this case) I was guessing– is it the niece of the mayor? Or does she want to be an actress? They always put you with the girl who wants to be an actress. And so I say, “What do you do?” and she said, “You know, I’m a professor and working on the cells-nucleus.” and I was (like) “What?” And then I talked to this girl for three hours and I learned amazing things about the brain and the cells. I was fascinated. For example, we have one hundred thousand-billions of cells in one body. Each cell is sending one thousand messages per second per cell. That’s the level of the web system we have. The numbers of information per second is like huge! And we have no access to it. No one knows what this cell said to this one. And I just started to work on that and then I met a couple of professors and I want to know more about the background first before to get in the funny part (of the process) which is the film-the actors and things. I want to be sure that I have a real statement. The funny thing is–half of what is said in the film is true. The other half is totally fake. But if you mix up everything together,everything looks real.
After I get associated with a thing called ICM. Not the talent agency–it’s the institute for the brain. I’m one of the founders. So I work with these guys there and we built a huge hospital with them. Nobel prize winners, these guys are fascinating. So I see them once and a while and ask them all my questions. I give them my script. They are so funny. They have more questions than me after they read it.
Besson has been prolific in the film industry for decades. He discusses how his craft has progressed over the years:
Besson: The business is more easy now. My first film for example, I was nineteen years old and I was shooting only in the afternoon because in the morning I have to find the money to shoot in the afternoon. So creatively I have two lenses and I can only do two takes. So the creative art was very thin in fact. I do my best with what I have . The business part was very important because you need the money to shoot.
Now I organize myself. I have people who take care of the business and I spend more time in my day to be creative than before, in fact. I probably work on the business two hours per week. So the rest is just writing in the morning, casting, rehearsal, editing, meeting people, actors, actresses, directors–you know all the thing I like.
The titular Lucy is played by Scarlett Johansson, Besson elaborates on what made her the best choice to portray his next heroine.
Besson: In fact, there is a bunch of actress who can play it (The role). It’s just about meeting the person. You need to feel the desire from one and the other. You know you need to. I didn’t propose the job. I proposed an adventure. I spent nine years working on it. I want the person to be committed and I’m gonna bother her 24 hours per day. So she has to be ready for that. She has to be willing for that. You just have to be clear and say:
(Do) You want to do the travel with me? Do you want to do this four or five months together? Do you want that because we’re gonna be on the boat and you’re not gonna get out of the boat and swim out. We will be in the of the Pacific, you can’t jump. Do you agree to do it?
The good thing about Scarlett is she’s a tough cookie. She’s from New York, “Whatever. Who cares?” you know she’s very (like that). It’s good at the same time because it’s good to say yes and then she’s working. You can count on her.
Besson talks about his ability to write strong female characters, what is his key to be able to tap into the female psyche and why he loves to center his films around these kind of heroines.
Besson: I think it’s the richness of women. Women physically, (in human evolution and biologically) cannot defend–they’re skinnier and if they had to fight they can’t. So they have had to use something else. They have to be brilliant, they have to think, they have to survive. That’s what I love about them. Basically they are the only ones who know the price of life because they have to give life. We (men) don’t we’re just watching–(We put in) couple of seconds, yeah.
I admire that of women, their strength. It’s like the story of Achilles’ heel. I think Achilles without the heel has no interest. If he doesn’t have the heel, it’s ‘Terminator’ (He has no weakness). That’s it. But he has the heel. It’s what makes him interesting. Then you can wait for two hours on the film and wonder when he’s gonna be hurt here (the heel). And women they have that, she can (more easily) be crushed (at any moment). Funny thing is most of my male characters are very feminine. And most of my female characters are very masculine.
Lucy she starts (the film) at 10 percent (of her brain). And then she opens her brain–she’s 15% and 20%. The fact is after 20%, it’s like dominoes. With 20 you’re intelligent enough to open 30 but at 30 you’re intelligent open 40 by yourself. So in fact, it’s like dominoes. So she can’t stop herself. She’s colonizing her own brain. It’s not her will –she can’t stop it. It won’t stop. She’s gonna go until the end and the end is crazy. The first step is the controlling of yourself–the cells we talked about. The second step is the controlling of the others, the third step is the control of the matter and the last step I won’t tell you.
Lucy comes out August 8th.