SDCC Panel Recap: Luc Besson, Cara Delevingne and Dane DeHaan Talk ‘Valerian’

Written by Ryan DeMarco


Attendees were treated to an advanced look at writer and director Luc Besson’s latest film, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Besson, who is known already for hits like The Fifth Element, The Professional, and Le Femme Nikita, graced the dais in his first ever Hall H appearance to six thousand cheering fans. Joining the legendary director was the filmDev’s producer and wife, Virginie Besson-Silla (Lucy, Revolver), Dane DeHaan (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Chronicle), and Cara Delevingne (Suicide Squad, Paper Towns). The hour long panel was moderated by Josh Horowitz (MTV, Happy Sad Confused).


Valerian and the City of Thousand Planets is a film that takes place in the 28th century centering on two intergalactic special operatives Valerian (DeHaan) and Laureline (Delevigne) who embark on a mission to the city of Alpha, an ever-growing metropolis consisting of thousands of species from all over the universe. With a population of twenty million and counting, Alpha relies on the inhabitants technology and resources for the betterment of existence. However with unknown entities growing in the shadows, threatening everyone in Alpha. Co-starring with DeHaan and Delevingne are Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, John Goodman, Rutger Hauer and Rihanna.

Luc Besson was always a huge comic book fan, dating back to his early childhood, where he read the French science fiction limited comic series, Valerian and Laureline. After reading all 29 volumes of the series, Besson was greatly influenced by the work so much that he asked the series creator, Jean-Claude Mezieres to develop The Fifth Element with him. As years passed, Besson would begin to develop a Valerian script and story (scrapping it after being so impressed with James Cameron’s Avatar). Over the last few years, Besson developed a new story with the characters and determined that now was the perfect time to make a film.

Virginie Besson-Silla, who worked as the producer on this film, went into great detail of the backstory of the film while offering eye-popping concept art for the city of Alpha and the tons of different alien species with fully described cultures and how they are interconnected with the city. Judging from the first look at the art, Besson and his team developed an amazing and very ambitious look for the city, blending the gritty vibe of The Fifth Element with a grander scale world of Blade Runner.

After dozens of concept photos, the energized crowd was treated to five small scenes. Given that the film wrapped principle photography just five weeks ago, the footage is very impressive, with small pecks of CGI that still need to be modified and tweaked. DeHaan definitely channels a lucky, cool talking operative that the actor describes Valerian as a “Space Bro,” while Delevingne’s Laureline is his ass -kicking, wise-cracking partner. The two definitely share a bond of a bickering brother and sister but would not be able to do what they do without each other.

Judging from Besson, he aims to impress with his work, and judging from the reaction in Hall H, he passed with flying colors.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets opens in theaters July 21, 2017

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