The Crazy Detailed Way Luc Besson Built The Movie Universe For Valerian

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets Poster

Back in November, I took an exclusive trip to the edit bay of Luc Besson's upcoming Valerian And The City of A Thousand Planets -- and one thing I learned about in heavy detail was an alien species called the Kortan Dahuk. I was given a multi-page fact sheet that revealed everything about the creatures, from where they were from to how they first interacted with humans. It turns out, however, that this was just the tip of the iceberg of Besson's creation, as the filmmaker actually created a full-blown bible for the cinematic universe. The writer/director recently told me,

I feel obliged to write it just to give some meat on everything. We tell the story about between 2020 to 2800 almost -- everything that happened. And then each alien we have a couple of pages of description, where they are coming from, all this. And then I gave all of that to [Dane], and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) and the Commander (Clive Owen). They all have their booklets because they need to know! I never asked if they read it, but I know they didn't! [laugh] No, I know they read it.

Earlier this month, both Luc Besson and Valerian star Dane DeHaan were in Los Angeles for a book signing at Meltdown Comics, and I had the opportunity to talk with both of them about their upcoming sci-fi blockbuster. I asked about the fact sheet and the detailed work that went into the making of the film, and learned about the tremendous depths of Besson's fanhood in regards to the long-running French comic series by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières. Both men went into detail about why it was so important for their individual processes, and how it legitimately aided the movie.

Going further with his point, Luc Besson explained how he used the bible as a means of authenticating both the world being established in Valerian, but also the interactions between characters. Leads Valerian and Laureline have a long history of encountering a wide-variety of alien species, and the filmmaker felt that familiarity could be replicated through heavy research. Said Besson,

I want him, for example, when he meets an alien, he knows about the alien, he knows where it came from -- so even if it doesn't mention it, they will have a relationship. If I tell you, 'Oh, this big Chinese guy is coming over; he's so fucking rich.' You will act differently than if I said, 'Oh, my cousin from France is coming.' So that's what I gave them.

Taking Luc Besson's thoughts and running with them, Dane DeHaan added that the fact book did legitimately help him immerse himself in the world -- but also gave him the opportunity to learn a lot more about the character he was playing. Said the actor,

When you're making a movie and it's just humans it's important to have a very specific relationship with everybody. But when you're working with aliens, you don't know who these aliens are without this packet, without reading about them. Valerian and Laureline know these aliens. They've existed in this world. They're familiar with them. So I needed to have that familiarity. And he did write ups for Valerian and Laureline too, so it was even helpful to get Valerian's backstory, where he's coming from. And that just helped me understand Luc's vision of the character and helped bring that to life.

The exciting finished results of this endeavor are still a few weeks away, with Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets not hitting theaters until June, but audiences will get a brand new taste of the blockbuster when the new trailer arrives tomorrow morning:

Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets arrives in theaters on July 21st, and be sure to tune in here on CinemaBlend for the exciting trailer launch!

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

NJ native who calls LA home and lives in a Dreamatorium. A decade-plus CinemaBlend veteran who is endlessly enthusiastic about the career he’s dreamt of since seventh grade.