Let it never be said that French filmmaking powerhouse Luc Besson doesn’t like an eclectic cast for his movies. Not only was he the one who thought to cast former pro wrestler Tommy “Tiny” Lister as the President of Earth in The Fifth Element, but he thought Danny Aiello would be a good owner of an Italian restaurant in Leon. Okay, the second one might not be too weird. But when it comes to Besson’s upcoming sci-fi epic, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, he’s really going outside the norm by casting legendary experimental jazz musician Herbie Hancock.
Naturally, when casting a sci-fi epic based on a French comic book series (Valerian and Laureline, created by writer Pierre Christin and artist Jean-Claude Mézières), who better to turn to for an undisclosed role than a 75-year-old musician who’s won 14 Grammy awards and an Oscar, but only has four previous acting credits in a span of 34 years, including playing someone named “Catfish Willie Slim” on an episode of Girl Meets World. Right? It’s a no-brainer.
Besides Hancock, whose role in the movie has yet to be announced, Besson has already cast Dane DeHaan as Valerian, Cara Delevigne as Laureline, Clive Owen as Commander Arün Filitt, and John Goodman, Rihanna, and Ethan Hawke all as as-yet unknown characters. Based on this, and on Besson’s track record, I’m at the very least intrigued by what he’ll do with a design-heavy futuristic adventure yarn. His most recent film was 2014’s Lucy, if you’ll remember.
Maybe Besson’s just a big fan of Hancock’s award-winning and super trippy robotic music video for his 1983 song “Rockit.”
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is set for release on July 21, 2017.
Are you looking forward to the weirdest movie you’ve seen in years? Let us know in the comments below!
Kyle Anderson is the Weekend Editor and a film and TV critic for Nerdist.com. Follow him on Twitter!