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Evolution to Revolution
As her abilities keep evolving, Lucy reaches out to Professor Samuel Norman, an expert on the human brain, to try to understand what is happening to her. Soon after she is supercharged, she finds herself able to do anything from learning Chinese in an hour to beginning to control space and time.

The production was fortunate enough to have Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman join the team as the world-renowned neurologist whose lifelong focus is how we access the information stored in our brain.

As Freeman is quite a science buff, and particularly enthusiastic about the mind's capacity, the actor was a natural choice. Besson notes: "Morgan Freeman is the ultimate professor, for two reasons. First of all, he's fascinated by the theory we develop in the movie because he's very familiar with it, which I didn't know before we met for the film. It was a pleasure for him just to talk about it. And secondly, he's such a good actor that you believe everything he says."

Besson-Silla was also thrilled to see Freeman come aboard. "Morgan is one of the only people who could play God," she enthuses. "So, to play the character of wisdom in the film, it was pretty obvious that he was the perfect actor."

Freeman was equally excited to join the cast, admitting that he holds his character in high esteem. "Professor Norman has written about the brain for years," he says. "He gives lectures all over the world and has been at the Sorbonne, in Paris, for a number of years. Because he's preeminent in the field, he is tracked down by Lucy, who's trying to figure out what's going on with her brain."

The veteran actor offers that Professor Norman is flattered to be contacted by Lucy: "When she calls him up and says, 'I've read everything you wrote,' he replies, 'You can't have.' And when she starts quoting what he wrote, he says, 'We've got to meet.'"

When Lucy's physical and mental abilities are suddenly heightened, she becomes most valuable prey for the mob who started her down this journey, particularly for local crime boss Mr. Jang, played by South Korean actor Choi Min-Sik. "Mr. Jang is the best villain I've come up with since Gary Oldman's character in The Professional," the writer/director reflects. "Whereas Lucy is the ultimate intelligence, Mr. Jang is the ultimate devil."

Indeed, Besson wanted to push the envelope when it came to creating Lucy's nemesis. "In the film business, we're always a little shy about villains," he states. "When you see the reality on the news, people are much crueler than we can possibly imagine. So we have a lot of leeway when we work on a villain. Mr. Jang is just a purely villainous businessman. He knows that there's a 50 percent chance he'll be dead tonight, so he doesn't care much."

The producer agrees that Mr. Jang is the epitome of evil. "He has no limits," Besson-Silla reflects. "He is the worst of humankind. He has no values, no love and no compassion. He's just in it for business. I don't think he has any emotion. Everything around him is just an object."

Even though the South Korean actor, best known for his role in the critically acclaimed Oldboy, did not speak a word of English or French, Besson believed that he would f it the role perfectly. Says the director: "It's funny because our body language was our communication system. I'd play the scene, and he'd show me what he made of it. We communicated almost like monkeys at first!" Still, Besson can't speak highly enough of the actor: "I'm fascinated by Choi. He's one of the greatest actors I've ever met, and he's just adorable and sweet."

Besson-Silla remembers that it took some time to convince the actor to join the cast. Actually, Lucy is the first international film of which Min-Sik has accepted to be a part. "In the beginning, it wasn't a sure thing that he was going to do the film," she recalls. "We had to go and meet him in Korea, talk with him and discuss the story. And it was only at the very end that he said, 'Okay, I'm interested, I want to be in.'"

As a matter of fact, Min-Sik was baffled at first to hear that Besson wanted to meet him. Needless to say, this was an offer he couldn't refuse. "As a younger actor, I watched Luc's movies," he recalls. "They were always a great inspiration to me. So I thought 'After being an actor for so many years, I'll finally meet this great director.' I think it all came out of my great curiosity. I wondered how he worked on set, what the spirit of the people would be, and what the locations would be like."

Even though her character was tortured by Mr. Jang and his men, Johansson speaks highly of her on-screen nemesis: "It was wonderful working with Choi," she says. "We didn't speak the same language, but we could communicate very well with our expressions. So even though we were doing scenes that were violent and cold and brutal, his presence was so enigmatic that we could communicate in a kind of spiritual way. But he was lovely and warm, and was always happy to be on set. He was also wonderful to watch because he's so incredibly expressive. Although Mr. Jang could easily just be seen as evil or bad, Choi fills out this character and makes him very multifaceted."

While Lucy is on the run from the mob, she contacts Pierre Del Rio, a French police officer to whom she gives a lead on smugglers trying to evade airport security. Del Rio, played by Egyptian performer Amr Waked, is bewildered when the young lady calls him up, and he doesn't initially give much credence to her story. "He thinks it's a prank call, or someone who's just taking the piss out of him," offers Waked, who is best known for his role in Stephen Gaghan's critically acclaimed Syriana. "Eventually, he joins her on her journey and finds out that she's got some extra powers, although he doesn't know where they come from. He's basically stunned by her capabilities, and gradually, their relationship grows closer."

Besson explains that Del Rio embodies naivete and that for a guy like him, who leads a pretty normal life, Lucy seems like an extraterrestrial. "He's Voltaire's Candide," says the director. "He realizes that Lucy's powers are so huge that there's nothing he can do. Del Rio represents the audience; he's basically you and me."

The producer observes that the policeman is the antithesis of Mr. Jang. "As Lucy puts it, Del Rio is a reminder of her humanity because he represents kindness," she shares. "And he's the one who will be next to her until the end and, in a way, protect her. She's lost all her emotions by being exposed to the drug, but when she's with Del Rio, there's a tiny spark of emotion that's still there."

When his agent called to let him know that Besson wanted to meet and was considering offering him a role for his upcoming project, Waked was thrilled. "Luc Besson is looking for me? I'm looking for him," Waked jokes. "Seriously, it was enough that Luc wrote the script and was going to direct it for me to want to do the film. When you read the screenplay, you find out why Luc is such an important director, writer and producer."

Besson-Silla enjoyed the fact that the Western audience wasn't too familiar with the Egyptian performer: "What I loved about him was that he's a great actor, and we haven't seen him in many films," she states. "I think it's important to have new faces on screen."

With the cast set, the producer reflects upon Besson's interest in making the film one about the way we interact with our environment, and socially as well: "Luc wanted to show the diversity on this planet and a mixture of all those different cultures. So we have Scarlett Johansson, who is Caucasian, Morgan Freeman, who is African-American, Min-Sik Choi, who is from Korea, and Amr Waked, who hails from Egypt."

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