Cara Delevingne gets big break in big-budget Valerian
British supermodel gets meaty role in French director Luc Besson's sci-fi flick
Not many supermodels cross over to become successful actresses.
But Cara Delevingne could just turn the tide in Hollywood and prove naysayers wrong.
In Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets, the 24-year-old beauty and US actor Dane DeHaan play Laureline and Valerian respectively, a team of 28th-century intergalactic special operatives who keep order within the human territories.
The two embark on a mission to the titular city of Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where species from all over the universe have converged over the centuries to share knowledge and intelligence.
A dark force is threatening the city and the pair have to identify the enemy and safeguard humanity.
Directed by French auteur Luc Besson and based on a French comic book series, the US$180 million (S$246 million) space fantasy epic - the most expensive independent film ever made - opens here tomorrow.
At the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly Hills, the gamine Delevingne - sporting a buzz cut and aptly wearing a space age-y grey sleeveless mini by Thierry Mugler and thigh-high black Christian Louboutin boots - is poised for the big time, taking on her first starring role in her biggest-budget movie to date.
Strong, sexy and smart, her Laureline is an extension of Besson's previous female protagonists from Nikita, The Fifth Element and Lucy.
Born into the British aristocracy, Delevingne has released a couple of albums, designed a few fashion collections and embarked on a thriving film career after supporting turns in Paper Towns (2015) and Suicide Squad (2016). She has also battled depression and come out as bisexual along the way.
Here, she talks about working with Besson, identifying with female empowerment and exposing her vulnerability for the movie.
How did you get this role?
When I got a call from my agent, about two years ago - "Luc Besson wants to meet you" - I think I dropped my phone, my jaw hit the floor.
I grew up watching his films and I wrote one of my theses about his movies. We went to breakfast. When I get nervous, I talk a lot, and so I think he knew my life story in 10 minutes (laughs).
He told me about this role, this movie he had wanted to make from when he was a kid.
When you hear someone talk about something with such passion - I have never wanted to be involved in something more.
Even before I knew the story, I was in love with the movie, because of his love for it. I knew I would do anything to prove that I could be (Laureline).
Laureline sends a good message to girls as she is Valerian's equal.
In Luc's films, he has always not only highlighted women, but men and women equally.
In this movie, Valerian is the kind of man running into things headfirst without really thinking or looking at the full picture.
He relies on Laureline to do the homework or think things through.
I am also a woman who has grown up believing (I have) to ask questions and know why I am being told to do something.
I think that's why he picked me for this role, because I stand by and believe in that.
And I think the message of this movie is extremely positive for girls.
In the trailer, there is a line where I go: "I taught him to do that". That was an ad-libbed line that wasn't in the script.
How was it like working with Besson?
What Luc believes in is truth in terms of the character, and trust.
He was like, "If you trust me, I will take you where you need to go in terms of this character".
He is so honest and creative, the ability that he has on set, to transform a situation or character by using one word, one little thing.
In one of the scenes, I have to persuade Valerian to trust me and to choose love over destruction.
I find it really difficult to cry in front of people, because I was always told by my father that it's a sign of weakness.
But Luc reminded me that you have to be strong to be vulnerable, and that you didn't have to attack yourself to make yourself cry.
That was one of the most amazing lessons I have ever learned - the strength in being vulnerable.
And in that moment, I just started pouring out tears and it kind of all changed.
He is an incredible actor too, and I think that is why he is so good at getting those deliveries out of people.
You have been outspoken about social issues and sexuality, and many young girls consider you a role model.
I think anyone growing up now struggles with being labelled.
I think to even begin to understand who you are, you have to stop trying to put yourself into a box or be someone you are not.
You should just be allowed to be who you are... Why should I explain who I am to you? If you want to know, ask me a question and I will tell you what you want to know.
Communication is the most important thing, and being honest with ourselves about our vulnerabilities and what is real.
You shaved your head for your role as a terminally ill woman in the drama Life In A Year. Tell us about the new haircut.
The maintenance is a lot less, which is nice. There is definitely something I have learned about hair and that is using it as something to hide behind.
I feel a lot more open and a little more vulnerable than when I had long hair, which is actually kind of liberating and amazing.
I think that I look like a 14-year-old boy, which is definitely not something that you want as a 24-year-old woman (laughs).
Honestly, I wouldn't have done it without having to do it for a film, so I am glad I got that opportunity.
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