Q. The 67° edition of the Festival del film Locarno will open with your new movie Lucy, which marks your return to an action-sci-fi thriller. What should the people that will watch it on the big screen of the Piazza Grande expect?
I believe it’s a thriller with action that will make people react and think. I hope they leave the theatre thinking about the film and having questions about the themes in it, like the fact that we are using maybe only 10% of our brain. And, in that sense, we can ask ourselves things like: What’s coming next? What would life be like if we used 15%, 20%, 30% or even more? A prehistoric Lucy brain weighed around 400 grams 3.5 million years ago, but Lucy’s brain today weighs 1.4 kilograms. So we have only gained about 1 kilogram of brain in over 3 million years, which is nothing; but it’s amazing what we have done with it!
Q. In films like La Femme Nikita, The Fifth Element or The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc you had great action female characters. How would you compare them to Lucy?
I think Lucy is different because Nikita, Leeloo and Joan of Arc were very powerful women with skills, whereas Lucy is a totally average girl at the beginning of this story. She is a student that maybe is partying a little too much and has a sort of boyfriend, but she doesn’t really know what to do with her life. So, it could be anyone! I just took an innocent person from the middle of the crowd that doesn’t really have anything special; but then what’s going to happen to her is very special, as she is going to have access to the ultimate knowledge of the entire universe and beyond. And it’s a role that could have also been played by a man, although I feel in that case it would maybe be less interesting…
Q. As in the past, you love entertaining fans of genre movies articulating this cinematic universe as an author. Do you think that contemporary genre movies represent at their best the situations and the anxieties of contemporary life?
I just try to be a modest artist and open doors. My fear was to make La Femme Nikita or Léon: The Professional all my life. And the truth is that I like to go from a little black & white film in Paris to bigger productions like Lucy, The Fifth Element or The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc. I love that! I think it’s my task to propose stuff, even if sometimes people don’t follow. So my goal is to at least try to be innovative and creative all the time, and then hope people will enjoy it.
Q. In your vast filmography you have worked as a writer, a director and a producer, amongst other things. How do you merge those different but also complementary points of view in your way of making movies?
The same way you can be a husband, a dad, a father, a son and a cousin the same day (which are five tough jobs!), you can also be a writer, an actor and a producer the same day. Believe me; I actually think the latter is easier… When I write I get up early, around 4 or 5 am, and it’s more of a lonely job, whereas being a producer is about sharing things with your crew. And then directing is the real job!
Q. Speaking of directing, you have always been considered as the "Most American French director." Do you like this definition or is it a critic’s label that bothers you?
I don’t especially agree with it because I think that first and foremost I am a director. I am an artist that was born in France, but I consider myself a student of the world. The great thing about art is that you don’t need a passport or a visa, so there is no need to attach a nationality to it. When I’m in the North Pole I love to eat sushi and listen to Bob Marley at the same time…Lorenzo Buccella