Luc Besson thanks Taipei, says city feels 'like home' (update)

08/18/2014 10:52 PM
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Director Luc Besson (left), his wife Virginie Silla (right) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (center)
Director Luc Besson (left), his wife Virginie Silla (right) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (center)

Taipei, Aug. 18 (CNA) Director Luc Besson on Monday gave a heartfelt thanks to the people of Taipei for their help in the filming of his new action thriller "Lucy" and said it felt "like home" to be back.

"I just want to take the opportunity to thank them (people from Taipei) because the people were very, very sweet," Besson, who is visiting Taipei to promote "Lucy," said at an appearance leading up to the film's premiere in Taiwan.

"I hope the people from Taiwan will appreciate the film because it's their city," he said. "That's what is most important for me."

The 55-year-old director recalled that many people left him notes and letters at the hotel in Taipei before he left the city last November after wrapping up the film shoot and said it felt "like home" to visit Taiwan again.

The French director was accompanied by his producer wife Virginie Silla at the Taiwan premiere of "Lucy" at Vieshow Imax Cinemas in Taipei.

Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin presented the director with an honorary "Key to the City of Taipei" and expressed his gratitude to Besson on behalf of local residents.

"With this key, you can go anywhere in Taipei and you will be treated as an honorary citizen," Hau said.

Besson said he was "very touched" and, in return, gave Hau a big sketchbook on which he developed the concept of "Lucy."

"Lucy" stars American actress and two-time Esquire "sexiest woman alive" Scarlett Johansson.

Johansson plays the titular character, an American woman living and studying in Taipei who is forced to become a drug mule for a mob. She is accidentally exposed to the drug, which unlocks the "full potential of her brain" and transforms her into a superhuman fighting machine.

Taiwanese actors Hsing Feng and Ken Lin and Taiwanese American actor Mason Lee, who all played minor roles in the film, were also present at the premiere.

The film will hit theaters in Taiwan on Aug. 20.

Besson said it was a pleasure to work with Taiwanese actors, who he said were very professional and understood everything he wanted, despite the language barriers.

The director, meanwhile, said he heard that an American director will come to shoot in Taiwan soon and appealed to the media and paparazzi to "please let him shoot."

Besson did not name the director, but he is likely referring to Martin Scorsese, who visited Taiwan earlier this year to scout filming locations for his new film "Silence."

Filming of "Lucy" stirred up a media frenzy in Taiwan in October last year, with some paparazzi reporters and photographers resorting to intrusive behavior and even car chases in their efforts to get close to the film's cast and crew.

The director slammed the paparazzi's behavior at the time, especially criticizing paparazzi from Hong Kong, and said he lost some of his concentration because of the disturbances.

Shortly after their appearance, Besson, Silla and Hau were seen by local media heading to Din Tai Fung, known for its steamed dumplings called "xiaolongbao."

(By Christie Chen)ENDITEM/ls/ls

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