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Luc Besson on the Challenge of Making ‘Valerian’ Stand Out From Other Sci-Fi Epics

Luc Besson was feeling plenty of love at Monday night’s world premiere of Europacorp’s “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” at the TCL Chinese Theatre.

He recalled his first visit to The Chinese four decades earlier. “The first time I was at this theater, I was 17 and saw ‘Star Wars,'” he told the audience.

Besson was effusive in his praise of the cast and gave a special shoutout to Rihanna for her portrayal of a shapeshifter. “I want to salute the queen of the universe, Rihanna!” he said.

Besson, who also wrote the script, said he was particularly pleased about the performance of his two young leads, Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne. “She’s the one who really rules,” he added.

The director also admitted on the red carpet that he felt relief above all else after spending seven years prepping for the sci-fi epic.

“I feel mostly relief because I delivered a baby and like every mother or dad, I love my baby,” he said. “There were 2,000 people on the film and everyone rehearsed and prepped so much that things went well and it was actually an easy shoot.”

Besson also admitted that the growth in sci-fi epics presented a particular challenge. “You really want to come up with something different because there’s such a high level out there. That’s what I want as a moviegoer,” he said.

DeHaan said the set was joyful. “Luc was so happy on the set. I had a great time doing it and I trained for two hours a day everyday. I was in the best shape of my life.”

The actor also said he was still stunned by the film’s effects. “Luc’s imagination goes a lot further than mine. This movie is so visually mind-blowing,” he added.

Scott Stokdyk, who supervised the visual effects, concurred. “Our job was to get inside Luc’s head, and every day I was just amazed. I spent two years on it so it’s very satisfying to be here.”

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets,” based on the French science fiction comics series “Valérian and Laureline,” opens this Friday through STX.

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