New ‘Valerian’ Trailer: Plus Luc Besson on Rihanna, Romance, and Creating ‘The City of a Thousand Planets’

The early teasers for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets emphasized the otherworldly visuals on display in director Luc Besson’s action-packed space opera due in theaters on July 21. But the latest trailer gives you a sense of the narrative that will be accompanying those eye-popping 3D-enhanced images. “You definitely learn more about [the story] in this one,” Valerian star Dane DeHaan told Yahoo Movies at a press event earlier this week in New York, where the trailer was screened for the first time. “It’s very exciting to watch. We shot almost entirely in front of green screen, so I didn’t know what it was going to look like. While we were watching the trailer, Luc explained to me which shots we had been shooting on set!” (Watch the new trailer, above.)

As for the story, Besson remarked to the assembled press at the trailer launch that it’s just your average “boy meets girl, boy wants girl, girl ignores boy” affair … albeit one that happens to play out against an intergalactic backdrop. DeHaan stars as the title character, a 28th-century peacekeeper who first appeared in a series of French comic books that made their debut in 1967. Valerian’s latest mission involves protecting the alien residents of the teeming city-planet Alpha from a mysterious force bent on their destruction.

But our hero refuses to embark on this adventure without fellow warrior Laureline (Cara Delevingne) by his side. Besides trusting her with his life, Valerian also longs to make their professional relationship personal. “He desperately wants to get the girl, and she’s very old-fashioned,” Besson said, adding that the sixth volume of Valerian’s comic-book adventures, Ambassador of the Shadows, provides the basis for this film. “So you have the big story, which is the 28th century full of aliens, and then you have the little story, which is about this guy and this girl. It’s the mix of the two that makes the film very human.”

The new trailer highlights both the big and little stories at play in Valerian, as Valerian and Laureline find some quiet time for personal bonding amid the larger moments of planet-size sci-fi spectacle. There’s a possible nod to Who Framed Roger Rabbit? with a scene in a nightclub where pop star Rihanna appears as a sultry performer. Besson is mum about the details of the singer’s role, revealing only that her character’s name is Bubble. “The first question for me was, ‘Is she interested in making films … or is it just one more thing on the side?‘” Besson said. “And she made it clear that she was really serious about it. When we got her on the set, she was really generous. She likes to be like clay, offering herself [and saying], ‘Do what you have to do.'”

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