Exclusive Interview: Luc Besson on The Family

Nikita Maggie Q

CraveOnline: I really enjoyed seeing David Belle at the end of the film. It was nice to see you working with him again.

Luc Besson: Oh my god, you recognized him?! [Laughs]

Yeah, because it's David Belle, man! He's a badass! 


Was that just for fun or did you plan to use his freerunning talents on camera? I noticed he threw in one jump, at least.

No. In fact, he was doing the choreography on the fights. He's kind of Italian-looking, a little bit, so I gave him a part. I said, "You know, you're working on the set every day, so at least you have a part." I produced a film…. Have you seen District 13?

Oh yeah, I love that movie.

We just finished the remake in the U.S., with David. He's in it. Just after The Family, he went to New York to shoot the film.

Does he get to play the same part or is he just in a cameo in the remake?

No, no, no. In the remake, he plays the same part. He did the choreography and it's with… Oh god, I'm too jet-lagged…

Paul Walker?

Yeah, Paul Walker. I'm sorry, I'm jet-lagged.

No, it's fine. How do you feel about some of the adaptations of your work that have gone on in America, like the various La Femme Nikitas? Are you fond of them? What do you think of what's been done with your work, after it's out of your hands?

You know, at the time, when I did Nikita, there was no example of a French film that finished as a TV series in America. So, my contract was very badly made so I see all these "Nikita" series, like season 1, 15, 25… and I didn't get any dollars from it or anything. I never read a script. No one even sent me flowers, so I'm a little… It's just a little abusing, a little bit because it's a total rip-off of my work. You know, if you talk about it, then I answer. Otherwise, I don't care so much, but it's not just very polite.

You had more control over the Transporter series though, didn't you?

The TV series? No.

No? None whatsoever?

No, but at least the contract was fair. [Laughs] But at the time, honestly, I… You know, TV is one job and cinema is another job. There are some common points but it's not the same thing and I didn't feel that I was able to manage that. I don't know TV enough so I'd rather sell the rights to someone who knows than do it myself because I was not feeling ready to do it. We do one series now with Taxi, where I don't have my full hands on it but at least I'm more aware and I follow it more. The Transporter, I've not even seen the TV series. I don't even know if it's good or not.

It hasn't even been released in America yet, so I couldn't tell you. Are there more Transporter movies planned? There are some listed on IMDb but that's really unreliable.

We're working on a lot of things. We're working on Transporter, too, a little bit. Nothing is… You know, when you're in the kitchen, you have to try a couple of things but it doesn't mean that it will be on the menu.

Right. What about the Leon sequel, with Natalie Portman? Is that never happening?

Yeah, I've heard [about] that too. In fact, when I want to know what I'm going to do next, I should watch the Internet.

Yeah. We've got it covered.

Yeah. Sometimes, I'm very surprised, you know? No, honestly, there's like 15, 20 projects where you have to try some pages, you put some words on paper and you try. You see if it grows, if it gives [you] something. And sometimes you abandon it. The people, the business here, as soon as you take a writer to write something? Boom, that's it. It doesn't work like this, in fact. You know, you try a lot of things first. And when it's ready, when the fruit is ready to fall off the tree, you just kick the tree!

William Bibbiani is the editor of CraveOnline's Film Channel and co-host of The B-Movies Podcast. Follow him on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.