Luc Besson Interview on THE LADY


Besson's next movie is no feelgood trifle, though: The Lady is a biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma's revered and perennially persecuted political leader. He's not the first director you'd expect to be behind such project. How much did he know about Aung San Suu Kyi? "I knew her story and I was concerned by her fight, but I'd never read a book on her. What struck me is the script, which is a true story. It's probably the most beautiful love story I've heard since Romeo and Juliet. It's just amazing. I still don't know how she dealt with it. It's just too much. When you watch the film you can't believe it, but it's true. Everything is true."

The Lady principally covers Suu Kyi's relationship with the English academic Michael Aris, and the terrible choice she faced: between returning to him after he was diagnosed with cancer and fulfilling her political duty in Burma. The script was written by Rebecca Frayn, based on extensive interviews with Suu Kyi's associates and family members, but the project's driving force, says Besson, was Michelle Yeoh, who plays Suu Kyi. An old friend, she came to Besson for help, and after he read the script he pledged to direct.

Shot in Thailand, with a few clandestine missions across the border into Burma, The Lady is as close as possible to real life, Besson says -- so close that reality and fiction were difficult to separate. They created an exact replica of the house in which Suu Kyi was imprisoned for 15 of the last 22 years, from 2,000 photographs, even using Google Earth to check the dimensions and the position of the trees. Besson says: "You should have seen the face of her son when he came to see it. He couldn't believe it. He looked everywhere and the only thing he said was, 'The piano was not here, it was over there.'" The Thai and Burmese crew were also stunned when Yeoh walked on set dressed as Suu Kyi. "Every morning, it went completely silent. She never came as Michelle. On the set she was always Aung San. It was very strange."

The Lady is due for release later this year, but Suu Kyi herself was released last November. Her freedom enabled Besson to speak to her on the telephone. "We just talked about life," he says. "Just caring about her health, how she feels, if she's OK, if we can help. She's so clever and full of respect and love and openness, she's a goddess."


"It's not so much about the film, I just feel so proud that the story is told. You're just not going to believe the story of this woman. I'm crying even in the editing room."

by Steve Rose
UK Guardian, April 14, 2011

(Full article: Luc Besson: Why I couldn't give up making films)


Luc Besson on THE LADY


it seems Besson is ready to throw his "serious" directing hat back into the ring with – you guessed it – another strong lady-led movie.

This time his superheroine isn't fictional, though: he's "just finished" a biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi called The Lady, starring Michelle Yeoh as the Nobel Prize-winning Burmese activist, which he describes as "a kind of Out Of Africa-type biopic".

"It's a big thing," he adds.

"it's 230 minutes long and it starts in 1947 when she's two years old and runs until 2007 when she's still under house arrest."

It was hard to shoot – he had to film undercover in Burma.

"But it's a fascinating true story – you can't believe what this woman had to deal with. Her enemies are so sneaky, I just want to kill them all."

by Larushka Ivan-Zadeh
UK Metro, April 13, 2011

(Full article: Luc Besson: Directing will suck your blood)