Luc Besson: biography
Luc Besson was born in March 1959 in Paris into the family where both parents were diving instructors and worked for the Mediterranean company that owned the chain of resorts in many countries. Luc spent his childhood and teenage years on the coasts of Yugoslavia, Greece, and other countries that had sea resorts. Following in the footsteps of his parent, Luc Besson was also interested in diving and underwater photography.
However, it was dolphins that became the Parisian’s special love – he dreamed of devoting his life to working with them. The accident decided everything: at 17, Besson dived unsuccessfully and almost got blind. The young man had to stop diving forever because the risks of complications were too high. Luc returned to Paris where he led an independent life. By that moment, his parents divorced, and each of them had their new family. For Luc, the challenging period of self-actualization began. He finished school without particular achievements: the studies were boring.
Besson tried various jobs, but it did not bring any results. Once, his friends helped him to get hired as a stage manager since he had some photography experience. Luc was so excited about this activity that two years later, he went to Hollywood to become a director. Still, the dream factory did not accept the young talent at once. Besson came back to Paris and was called up for military service.
After the army, Luc Besson came back to the motion picture studio. He had never finished any special courses or universities – he preferred to learn in practice. Three years later, he was making music videos independently. The short movie “L'Avant Dernier” (“The Last but One”) was the director’s debut that marked Luc Besson’s career. Made on Besson’s own studio, the movie appeared in 1983. The colleagues appreciated the beginner’s work.
In a year, Luc presented the new black-and-white silent movie “Le Dernier Combat” (“The Last Battle”). This movie is peculiar since Jean Reno appeared on the screen for the first time. Later, Besson would often invite him to his projects. The young director’s movie received several prizes two of which were especially rewarding – the Avoriaz Fantastic Film Festival Awards.
The real success began when Luc Besson’s third movie “Subway” appeared on the big screen in 1985. Next year, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts nominated the work as the Best Foreign Language Film. In this project, Jen Reno starred again – one can say the director and the actor were traveling to glory and success together. In 1986, Besson demonstrated he was not only a good director but also a skilled producer. He produced two successful movies “Kamikaze” and “Taxi” which both were popular and whose box office sales proved to be high.
At this period, Besson renamed his studio: it used to be called “Les Films du Loup” (“Wolf’s Movies”), now it was “Les Films du Dauphin” (Dolphin’s Movies”). He also started working on one of his most successful projects. The action movie “The Big Blue” was the first Besson’s project in English. Luc, who had spent all his childhood and teenage years near the sea, based the movie on the real story of two free-diving pioneers, the French Jacques Mayol and the Italian Enzo Maiorca.
The world champion Mayol is known as the first person who reached the depth of a hundred meters without an aqualung. Jean Reno was involved in the movie: he played Enzo Maiorca, and Jacques Mayol was played by Jean-Marc Barr. The little-known actress Rosanna Arquette appeared as Mayol’s girlfriend. After the movie was released, the global fame came to the young director. This work brought him several César Awards and many other prizes.
In 1990, the new movie by Luc Besson “Nikita” came out. The young Anne Parillaud was given the leading role. Again, the success was incredible. Three years later, the “Nikita” remake entitled “Point of No Return” was created. The next year, Luc came back to his favorite marine theme and created the popular-science documentary “Atlantis.”
Luc Besson created his next movie in Hollywood; “Leon: The Professional” appeared in 1994, with Jean Reno as Besson’s indispensable “talisman.” He played a killer, and Natalie Portman played the fragile girl sentimental to him. The movie was extremely popular among viewers, but critics did not see the artistic value in it. “Leon: The Professional” did not get significant awards which made the director feel blue. Hollywood gave the French a cold shower once again.
However, the director learned his lessons and managed to incorporate the Hollywood standards in his next work – “The Fifth Element.” Milla Jovovich, the beginning actress and model, played the leading part in here. Initially, $90 million was invested in the project; the world distribution of a motion picture brought $260 million.
To consolidate the success, Luc Besson starred Jovovich in his next movie, the drama “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc.” However, it was not well-regarded – on the contrary, it failed. Besson always took his bad luck to heart. At this time, he “dropped out” of the active directing for 6 years. He came back to the audience only in 2005: his successful melodrama “Angel-A” appeared. A little later, the movies about King Arthur were released.
When Luc Besson withdrew from directing he was engaged in producing. In these years, the famous movies “The Dancer,” “District 13,” “Bandidas,” and the sequels of “Taxi” and “The Transporter” were out.
One of the most recent and recognized projects by Luc Besson is the sci-fi movie “Lucy” – it is the action movie shown on the big screen in 2014. This work was included in the “Times” Top 10 Movies of the year.
Besson is justly considered the best modern producer and director. He has demonstrated he can work in diverse genres. The French director has worked on more than 152 movies.
In 1986, Luc Besson married Anne Parillaud. She starred in his movie “Nikita” that was created for her. However, Besson and lived together 5 years only. In this marriage, the daughter Juliette was born.
Two years after the breakup with Parillaud, Luc Besson’s personal life changed for the better: he had a love affair with 16-year-old Maïwenn Le Besco. The young actress appeared in his movie “The Fifth Element” in which she played the singer Diva. Luc and Maïwenn’s marriage was civil. The couple lived together not so long. In this relationship, Besson’s second daughter Shanna was born.
Working on “The Fifth Element,” Besson got closer not only to Maïwenn Le Besco but also Milla Jovovich. It was Milla for whom the director left Maïwenn. They married in 1997, but their marriage lasted a couple of years – it broke because of Luc’s unfaithfulness.
In 2004, Besson married the actress Virginie Silla. She not only stars in movies but also acts as Besson’s co-producer. In this marriage, three children were born: the daughters Sateen, Thalia, and the son Mao.
- “The Big Blue”
- “Leon: The Professional”
- “The Fifth Element”
- “The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc”
- “The Transporter”