Time-traveling intergalactic special agents Valerian and Laureline are getting their first full-length trailer on Wednesday. But first, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets director and screenplay writer Luc Besson and Valerian actor Dane DeHaan introduced the trailer to press in New York City. Besson and DeHaan discussed the film’s strengths and challenges, its comic book origins, and what to expect of Rihanna’s role as the mysterious Bubble.

Besson, the director of the cult favorite The Fifth Element, has expanded upon the French comics Valérian and Laureline by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières, DeHaan said, “and I think there’s a lot to play with.” He’s taken the essence of the story and expanded on the original creators’ work. Besson, a fan of the comics since childhood, said that he never thought it would be possible “to make a movie about two main characters and 1,000 aliens,” but that technology has finally caught up to what he imagined it could be.

That technology, which DeHaan described as including “10,000 times more” blue screen work than anything he’s done before, will make DeHaan into a rare hero. The actor is best known for his roles in The Amazing Spider-Man 2 and Chronicle, where he portrayed recently turned villains.

“There is a sense of humor to it,” DeHaan said of the film. “It’s definitely not a super dark superhero thing. Luc has a really fun, light sensibility, and he wants to keep people entertained.”

That light sensibility gives way to some frustration on Besson’s part about the nature of 3D filming, which he said he finds frustrating because he can’t be as close to his actors as he’d like to be.

story continues below

“I’m fed up with the 3D,” Besson said, though he did admit he’s already penning a sequel despite his frustrations. “I love the characters. I love to write them.” And, he insists, even if someone doesn’t like science fiction, they could still love the characters and what he describes as their “old-fashioned” story in an eccentric setting.

Part of that eccentric setting seems closely tied to international superstar Rihanna’s role, though both DeHaan and Besson were relatively tight-lipped over it.

“[Rihanna] is the queen of the earth already,” Besson said. “The Pope and the President have more time.” But, he said, she’s an incredibly generous actor and was incredibly serious about the roll going into it.

“I think when people see what [Rihanna's] part is, they’ll realize what a good time I had working with her,” DeHaan said after a moment of hesitation, blushing and smiling. “It was definitely a couple weeks I’ll never forget.” When Dehaan was called out for turning red over his own comment, he replied, “I won’t be the only one blushing” when audiences finally find out what Rihanna’s role is in the film.

The first full-length trailer for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets premieres Wednesday, March 29. The film is expected in theaters July 21.

Photos via EuropaCorp