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TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) – French film director Luc Besson on Friday slammed paparazzi in Taiwan for interfering with the shooting of his latest film, starring Scarlett Johansson, but denied reports that he considered leaving the island early to underscore his disgust over their actions.
Besson spent 11 days in Taipei filming Lucy with Johansson, who plays a drug mule whose contact with a “super-serum” endows her with superhuman abilities.
Meeting reporters in Taipei a day after he finished shooting the Taiwan part of the film, Besson blasted the paparazzi for dogging the production, saying it was his right as a director to keep details, such as Johansson’s hair style and her wardrobe, out of the public eye until Lucy is released.
“We don’t want pictures with new dresses of Scarlett,” he said. “Sometime I lost a bit of my concentration because I’m bothered by that.”
“Shooting at nighttime was a nightmare” because of constant paparazzi intrusions, he said.
Besson singled out two unnamed agencies from Hong Kong for special condemnation, but labeled as incorrect press reports that he wanted to leave Taiwan early to register his disapproval of their actions.
“I read in the newspaper that I was ready to leave,” he said. “This is wrong.”
The press conference was hosted by Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin at a Chinese restaurant in the city’s iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper, the world’s fifth-tallest building.
Besson also had many positive things to say about his working experience in Taiwan, complimenting the competency of local cast and crew, the photogenic nature of the city, and the warmth of local people.
Johansson did not attend the press conference due to an earlier departure, but she prepared a surprise audio message that was played at the press conference.
“Taiwan people are so welcoming,” she said. “Thank you for letting us use your home. I wish I could spend more time to get to know the city better.”
She added that she had a great time at the local zoo and the night market, famed for its street food.
Besson also said it was incorrect to say that drug smuggling was the focus of the film, saying it comprised only a very small part.
“The film is about pure intelligence,” he said, declining to elaborate. “We’re basically using 10 percent of our brain. What happens when we use more?”
Besson said work on the film would take another year, and that it was still too early to talk about a release date.
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