SDCC 2016: Luc Besson Brings Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets to Life With DeHaan and Delevingne

Set for the summer of 2017, French producer, writer, and director Luc Besson will be releasing a passion project, the much-anticipated science fiction action film Valerian and the City of a Thousand PlanetsValerian is based off of the French comics series Valérian and Laureline. The series was created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières, and the series ran from 1967 to 2010. The space opera is lead by two main character, Valerian and Laureline — both spatio-temporal agents — and has influenced other science fiction media.

Besson talked about his love for the comics series at San Diego Comic-Con this year, falling in love with it when he was 10, and he drew inspiration from it when he was making The Fifth Element. As a child, it seems that Valérian and Laureline meant everything to him, “I didn’t have internet at the time, so the only thing I had was Valerian. That was my internet.” It wasn’t until James Cameron’s Avatar came out that he began to truly create the vision of Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.

Chock full of visual effects and blue screen, Besson tops himself with over 2,700 visual effects versus The Fifth Element‘s 200. Aside from the visual effects required to create the world of Valerian, there is also a multitude of alien species. Besson teased a whopping 200 or more alien species at the panel and described the intimacy he had in creating each individual species with their own specific characteristics.

In regards to the two leading stars, Dane DeHaan as the titular Valerian and Cara Delevingne as Laureline, Bessen said, “I was impressed with both of them when I met them, they really fit with the image I have.” DeHaan spoke a little about the process of creating his own version of Valerian, and Besson allowing him to feel out the character, “it was almost something of an unspoken exploration, but when I got it he always told me that I got it.”

With blue screen in nearly every shot, DeHaan expressed optimism at approaching the challenge of acting against it, saying that there was “something kind of innocent and freeing” in imagining the world and adopting an almost childlike mentality. He also talked about working with Delevingne, saying, “Our chemistry was there from the start. Cara’s so much fun, she’s just full of life.”

Producer and wife of Besson, Virginie Besson-Silla talked a little about working outside of her typical repertoire with the science fiction genre, “I love the joy that there is in the script,” and later in the panel promised that “[The alien species] get weirder and weirder as we go.” And while it does seem like we are finally in the time when audiences are ready for full blown non-humanoid aliens on screen, Besson asks only that the fans trust him with the project, “Try to know nothing and just sit down,” he said.

To add to that, it seems Besson has succeeded in adding his own personal touch to Valerian as DeHaan praised, “Luc has a very distinct style, a very distinct and unique taste, and this movie captures that.” It seems that Besson’s dreams are finally coming true, and it’s looking better than ever. We’re looking forward to seeing what Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has in store for us July 21st, 2017.

Check out the full press conference below.