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All right, guys, I'm going to level with you.
We have no solid reasoning for doing this one, except that we just wanted to.
We have no idea how you guys feel about this movie, but
we love it, so we're doing it.
Here are seven things you didn't know about Léon, aka The Professional,
Many of you may know that Léonwas inspired by Jean Reno's character in Luc Besson's
1990 film La Femme Nikita.
In that one, Reno plays another cleaner named Victor.
>> Victor (Foreign).
>> But what you may not know is the
overall story of Léon's relationship with Mathilda is based on Besson's real life
relationship with his then-girlfriend, the French actress known as Maiwenn.
She played the diva in his next film, The Fifth Element, and here she is in Léon.
>> I'll talk to you later, sweetie,
okay? >> Anyway,
Maiwenn met Luc Besson when she was only 12 years old but he was 29 at the time.
Sound familiar?
Nonetheless, Maiwenn says that she was in love with Besson by the time she was 15.
By then, he would have been 32.
So the story of Léon and
Mathilda isn't shocking to Maiwenn because she feels that it's her story.
And Maiwenn isn't the only person who doesn't see the film as shocking.
>> A girl's first time is very important.
It determines the rest of our life sexually.
>> Even though the film was fairly
controversial in the US, the French generally didn't get bent out of
shape about Léon and Mathilda's relationship.
I'm sure plenty of you have strong opinions and
a whole lot to say about it in the comments.
So while you all do that, I'm just going to move on to our next thing.
(Sound) >> Let's play a game.
>> What kind of game?
>> You know this part, where Mathilda and
Léon play charades?
Well, aside from Gene Kelly, which was written into the script, all of the stars
Mathilda impersonates came from Natalie Portman doing them in her audition.
Luc Besson asked her what impressions she could do and
these were the three she came up with.
She'd been a fan of Madonna in real life so that one was no brainer and
she knew of Charlie Chaplin just from watching movies at home.
But the best story is Marilyn Monroe, and
it's the best because she's not actually doing an impression of Marilyn Monroe.
She's doing an impression of Mike Myers doing an impression of Marilyn Monroe.
>> Happy birthday Mr.
President. >> Natalie Portman had
seen Mike Meyers do the Happy Birthday, Mr. President shtick in Wayne's World and
thought it was hilarious, obviously, and it stuck with her.
So she basically just ripped it off for
her Léon audition. >> Mr.
President. >> This is just one of those impressions
that never has to be particularly good to be still pretty good,
you know, like Christopher Walken or Seinfeld or Arnold.
Now get to the chopper so we can move onto our next thing and
I can stop doing these goddamn voices.
Next thing!
(Sound) Filming on Léon was split between the U.S.
and France.
All of Léon's apartment interiors are on a set at Epernay Studios.
But parts like this, in the hallways and on the stairs,
were done at the famous Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street in New York.
So, right here,
Léon has actually gone from New York to Paris in a matter of seconds.
But going back to the Chelsea Hotel, it's famous for artists like Andy Warhol,
Dylan Thomas and Mark Twain staying there, as well as Sid Vicious, who,
coincidentally, Gary Oldman played in his first major movie role in Sid and Nancy.
(Laugh) >> And
that is (Sound) Our obligatory bonus thing you didn't know.
(Sound) >> I think we can all agree that the guns
in Léon are pretty major.
But Léon went into production just a few months after
Brandon Lee was killed while filming The Crow.
The tragedy cast a certain apprehension over the entire Léon production, And
not least of all,
over Natalie Portman's parents. >> (Sound)
How's that?
>> Since Mathilda handles so
many weapons in the film Portman's parents hired a weapons expert to teach her how to
assemble the guns herself, how to check to make sure there wasn't live ammo in there,
how to tell the difference between a bullet and a blank,
all of that kind of stuff.
So, for the most part, when we see Mathilda doing her gun chores in the film,
Natalie Portman pretty much knew what she was doing for real.
And since she was only 11 at the time that makes her, pretty much,
the most badass tween ever. >> A little left, please.
>> I mean,
(Bleep) I was still wetting the bed. >> Ahh!
Ahh! Ahh!
(Sound) >> Learning how to handle guns properly
and safely wasn't the only requirement that Natalie Portman's parents had for
her participation in Léon.
They also took issue with Mathilda's smoking.
In the end they worked out a pretty detailed agreement with Besson on how
the whole underage smoking thing was going to work.
For one, we could see no more than five cigarettes in Mathilda's
hand throughout the film.
Two, they couldn't be real cigarettes.
Third, we could never see Matilda actually inhale.
That's why we only see her bring the cigarette to her lips, but
it always cuts away before we see her take a drag.
The final rule was that the Portmans wanted Mathilda to quit smoking during
the course of the film, which she does. >> I want you to
stop smoking, okay? >> I wonder if this means
that the Portmans should get co-writing credit.
(Sound) >> What's happening out
there? >> Okay,
let's talk about this old lady here in the hallway.
And I'm not being rude, by the way.
She is actually credited as Old Lady.
The actress is the late Jessie Keosian, which I'm almost certain you didn't know.
But that's not the thing you didn't know for this thing you didn't know.
This thing is about how that actress playing the old lady
was also Woody Allen's high school biology teacher.
Crazy weird coincidence, right?
And I don't have anything else to add here, so let's move on.
(Sound) Léon is easily one of Luc Besson's best
works and that makes it really hard to believe how quickly he wrote the script.
It took only one month for him to write Léon.
If it only took him 30 days to write Léon then he must have spent just 30 minutes
writing that piece of (Bleep) Lucy, am I right?
(Laugh) Anyway, that's a whole other thing I've got.
Besson had actually been working on The Fifth Element after La Femme Nikita but
the project was too big and was taking too long.
So he decided to take on something more manageable until
he could make The Fifth Element.
He spun off La Femme Nikita into Léon, banged out the script and
invited Jean Reno to dinner once it was done.
After dinner, Besson and Maiwenn presented Reno with a gift.
And once Reno opened the box, it was the script for Léon.
Reno was so touched he actually started to tear up and
he told Besson, I'm already ready.
Turns out he was right.
Also turns out he was talking about the threesome they had that night.
That's a wrap on this episode so let us know if you liked this one and
if you love Léon.
Thanks for watching and be sure to check out cinefix.com and subscribe for
more truish things about movies and sometimes people doing impressions of
Mike Myers doing another impression, right here on Things You Didn't Know.
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The Professional!

105 Folder Collection
Lisa published on September 15, 2019
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