Luc Besson Talks About THE LADY


Moviefone: Your next film is 'The Lady.' How did you approach making a film about a still living person, Aung San Suu Kyi, whom you couldn't meet?

Luc Besson: You have to research months and months to find out everything you can and meet people met her. And go from some foundation that helped Burma -- they have lots and lots of films about her. Like home video things. It's kind of scary because you want to honor the person and you know that you're not going to do it at 100 percent right. And I finally met her and she's really a sweetheart. And we actually went not too far from the truth.

Moviefone: Did she get to see any of the finished film?

Luc Besson: No. And she doesn't want to. You know, she's living in one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, so I think that the fact that she doesn't want to see the film is a way of protecting herself. Because the film is not showing the government on a good day, so I think she wants to protect herself and say, "You know, I have nothing to do with the film. I've not seen the film. I was not asking for the film. So there's nothing that they can reproach her about the film.

By Mike Ryan, August 26, 2011
(Full interview: Luc Besson Reflects on His Female Leads) I'm hoping to see it in Toronto, because I love Michelle Yeoh.

Luc Besson: It's the best part ever for her; she's amazing in the film.

by Edward Douglas, August 25, 2011
(Full interview: Luc Besson on the Genesis of Colombiana)

CNN: The life of Suu Kyi comes to film - An Interview with Luc Besson

Watch video   (06:32 )

Anderson: Well, the daughter of a slain independence hero and a symbol of the fight for democracy in her own right, Aung San Suu Kyi spent almost 5500 days incarcerated in her Myanmar home before her release in November last year.

The political side of her story is well-known. Less so, the personal sacrifices this Nobel Peace Laureate has made for her country.

Well now, in a new film shot amid great secrecy, Aung San Suu Kyi's extraordinary tale is being told and, tonight, in a world exclusive, we are bringing you the first look at the docudrama known simply as "The Lady."


Anderson (voice-over): Revealed at last. The Luc Besson film set in Myanmar. A story about one of the world's most famous struggles and the pro-democracy leader at its center.

"The Lady" is the much anticipated docudrama about Myanmar opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.


Anderson: It marks the return to the director's chair for the acclaimed French filmmaker who's brought us the likes of "The Big Blue," "The Fifth Element," and "Leon: The Professional."

Anderson (on camera): What was it about Aung San Suu Kyi's story that drew you back?

Luc Besson: I knew a little bit about her. I read a couple of articles. And I read the script, and I fall love with the story and I was so touched by it, I cried a few times during the reading of the script.

And I thought this story should be told. She is the female Ghandi. I didn't know the power of this woman and how she means for the people and -- she fights for democracy for almost 30 years without any weapons.

It's the only rebel with words and without weapons.

Anderson (voice-over): Besson was still making the film when Aung San Suu Kyi was unexpectedly released from house arrest in November last year.

Luc Besson: It was very difficult for me, in fact, because I was almost sure that she would never get free. She got under arrest -- house arrest for 15 years, and I didn't think they would let her go. And that's most -- one of the reasons why we made the film.

So, when suddenly in the middle of the shooting, she was free, I was very happy, for sure, for her, and a little lost, in fact, but --


Anderson (on camera): Luc, there's been a lot of mystery --

Luc Besson: -- I was very happy for her.

Anderson: -- surrounding the shooting of this film. Why?

Luc Besson: Oh, the mystery was not to -- for any publicity reason or anything. We were scared to -- that they would shut the shooting.

We shot in Thailand, and we almost had to give a fake script without her name, and some people were, after a couple of weeks, they were looking after us, probably some spies were around.

So, we were -- we want to do the film as long as we can in Thailand, and I shot a couple of weeks in Burma before Thailand, pretending to be a tourist, but I got some great shots from there. And I just want to be sure that no one can stop us to do the film.

Anderson (voice-over): Michelle Yeoh of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" fame stars as the pro-democracy leader.

Anderson (on camera): Why was she the best person to play this character, do you think?

Luc Besson: When you met an actress and you feel that it's the role of her life, you have 50 percent of the job done. She was so involved in it. She learned how to speak like her, to move like her.

She was -- impregnee. I don't know the word in English. Like a sponge with the character. And when you talk to her about the part, you can tell.

And the second thing is, she's looking 70 percent already like Aung San Suu Kyi.

Anderson (voice-over): Besson says making "The Lady" and finally meeting Aung San Suu Kyi has been life-changing.

Luc Besson: It's such a strange feeling to work for a year on someone that you never can meet. And you finally meet when you finish the film.

So, I was so -- so scared when I met her. I just want to do things wrong. She's a very -- strange woman, in a way. She's adorable, she's all peace and she gives you everything. And at the same time, some of them call her the "steel orchid." She can be so strong and so determined.

And that's what's difficult for Michelle Yeoh to play the part, because most of the time you love her, and the other half you hate her. You know? It's -- she never gives her feelings, she's always very -- very stiff like this.

Host: Becky Anderson. Aired on August 4, 2011
(Full transcript: Connect The World scroll to the middle)