Director Luc Besson Talks LUCY, a Possible Sequel, His Approach to Female Characters, and More; Says TAKEN 3 Has Nothing to Do with Liam Neeson’s Family

     April 23, 2014

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From writer/director Luc Besson, the action-thriller Lucy is about a woman (Scarlett Johansson) who is accidentally caught in a dark deal, and then turns the tables on her captors and transforms into a merciless warrior evolved beyond human logic.  For more on the film, watch the trailer and read our WonderCon panel recap.

While at WonderCon to promote the film’s August 8th release, filmmaker Luc Besson spoke to Collider for this exclusive interview about who Lucy is, how he’d been thinking about and working on this project for 10 years, that he doesn’t like to cut a lot of scenes, but he likes to allow himself a bit of room during editing, and how, if the film is huge, he would think about a possible sequel.  He also talked about the sci-fi trilogy he will probably do next, how no one will actually get taken in Taken 3, which is currently filming, and where he sees the Transporter movies going next.  Check out what he had to say after the jump.

lucy-scarlett-johansson-morgan-freemanCollider: Awhile back, you mentioned that you had an idea for a sci-fi trilogy.  Is Lucy part of that?

LUC BESSON:  No, not at all. 

Is that something you still want to do?

BESSON:  Yeah.  That’s probably the next one.

Is Lucy set up as a franchise, or is it very definitely a single movie?

BESSON:  I never think about franchises, to be honest.  I always just do the film.  The funny thing is that when Taken worked so well, the studio said, “Can you make a second one?”  My first reaction was to say no because I didn’t know what to do.  Then, I started to think about it, and I got an idea that was good and logical, so we did it.  With Lucy, you’ll see the end of the film.  I don’t know how we can make a sequel, but if the film is huge, then I will think about it.   

What can you say about the story for Taken 3?

BESSON:  It’s shooting right now.  Taken 1 and 2 is, in fact, the same film in two parts.  The first act, someone is taken, and the second act is that revenge.  You can see the films back to back and they go together.  The third film is another story that has nothing to do with him and his family.  No one is taken.  The dog is not taken.  It’s another story with the same characters.  It’s different, but it’s very good.  It’s probably the best of the three for me, in terms of the script.  The first one was really not pretentious.  It was a small film.  We were surprised by the success of it because it was honest.  Liam [Neeson] was not a super kick-ass actor. 

lucy-scarlett-johanssonIt’s interesting that it’s sparked a trend of older actors becoming action stars, like Kevin Costner and Colin Firth.

BESSON:  Yeah, because it brings some humanity to it.  They bring their background and their baggage with them. 

The kick-ass female action characters in your films are very real and believable.  Is that something important to you, and that you take great care with?

BESSON:  I want to correct that.  I don’t only do female characters that kick ass.  In fact, I did The Lady about Aung San Suu Kyi, and I’ve done a couple of other things.  My vision of women is not just that they’re kick-ass girls.  They are much richer than that, in life.  But when half of the story is fake and half is true, and you mix it very well, everything looks true.  If you start with 100% of it being fake, even if you mix it a lot, it will always look a little bit fake.  If you always mix it with reality, it makes it more believable. 

Audiences are getting their first glimpses about what Lucy is.  What can you say about what you wanted to do with this story and who this character is?

BESSON:  It’s not very far from the trailer.  Basically, she’s a normal, average girl.  She’s studying in Taipei.  She’s wondering what she’s going to do with her life, like every student woo’s 22 or 23 years old.  And then, something falls in her lap that she was not expecting, at all.  It could happen to you, or it could happen to me.  It’s really a bad thing.  And because of the consequences of that, she knows what she’s going to do with her life.  She’s going to evolve.  Her name is Lucy in reference of Lucy, the first woman that we discovered.  The first Lucy was alive 3.4 million years ago.  That’s a statement about evolution.  The brain of prehistoric Lucy is 400 grams.  Our brain today is one kilo and four grams.  We took one kilo of brain in four million years, which is very slow.  It took three million years to get from 2% to 10%, where we are today, and it’s going to take her a couple of hours to go from 10% to 100%.  So, it’s really about the meaning of life.  What is intelligence?  All of the questions we have about where we come from and who created the world, she can have access to.  I play with the brains of people during the film a lot.  The way we follow her is really step by step, person by person.  You really see what’s going on, in her mind, and that’s very scary. 

lucy-scarlet-johansson-2Was this something that you had been thinking about for awhile?

BESSON:  Oh, yeah, for 10 years.  I worked on it for three years and had a first draft seven years ago.  I kept that draft on the side because I didn’t know enough stuff.  I was not intelligent enough.  So, I waited for a couple of years and came back to it two years ago.  I met a lot of professors because I needed to know where we are before I could invent the story.

Have you had to cut many scenes out, or do you typically only shoot what you know you’re going to use?

BESSON:  I don’t cut a lot of scenes, but it’s always good to have some grease.  That’s a good process.  When you’re editing, it’s good to know that you can play with it.  You see that there is grease here, but not here, and you can adjust it.  I don’t think it’s good to be too precise until you are in the editing room.  So, when you’re shooting, you have some extra food.  Not so much, but 10 to 15%.  If you have more than that, it means you’re not precise and you don’t know what you want.  That’s not me.  When she’s at 10% or 20% or 30%, you need to know where you are.  Otherwise, you’re lost.

What’s the status of the Transporter movies?

BESSON:  We’re gonna start another one.  We want to maybe refresh the concept and change it, with a new actor and a different energy.  It’s a great character.  We’re working much more on the story.  He’s the character, but we have some pretty weird concepts for the story.  It’s gonna be fun.

Lucy opens in theaters on August 8thClick here for all our WonderCon coverage.

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