Last year we did an update, that I think was lost after the hack, about Colombiana, the new action film that opened this weekend. The film is Luc Besson produced and the director, Olivier Megaton, spoke about how the film was heavily inspired by Leon/The Professional. He let slip that there was a sequel script out there, called Mathilda, but Besson’s old studio held the rights to the character and, for reasons that I can’t recall, wasn’t prepared to let Besson make a sequel.
Now that Colombiana is out in cinemas, there have been a couple more interviews that refer to the connection. Hit the jump.
Let’s begin with an excerpt from The Playlist.
“It’s very tricky, because as soon as you put some details from the past, you don’t know how the audience will take it,” Megaton said. “In the initial script, we had much more references to ‘La Femme Nikita’ and ‘The Professional,’ but after the first reading, I said maybe it’s a little too much. There was a little too much of pointing your finger at things, and they know everything, and fifteen years after [‘The Professional’] we have to be a little more light.”
Megaton has been friends with Besson for almost two decades, and knew the labyrinthine history of “Colombiana” before it became a vehicle for “Avatar” and “Star Trek” actress Zoe Saldana. “Ten years ago we decided to make ‘Mathilda,’ which was the ‘Professional’ sequel, but we couldn’t do it because of the evolution of a lot of things – about Natalie [Portman], about [estranged distributor] Gaumont,” Megaton revealed. “Luc tried to do this movie again and again—he proposed it to me 12 years ago. But when we decided to change the script and to make another movie with a revenge story like ‘Mathilda,’ he had to give up everything about Mathilda.”
From that it sounds like if they do ever do a proper Leon sequel, they’d have to write a new script as Colombiana sounds more than JUST inspired by the sequel.
Natalie has always given indications that she’d be interested in doing a sequel, but in this interview excerpt, maybe that’s no longer the case.
Question: What attracted you to Colombiana?
Olivier Megaton: Colombiana is a long talk with Luc [Besson]. We were speaking for more than ten years about making The Professional remake, which was supposed to be called Matilda and because of a lot of things, we never could do it. Every year, we’d talk about this project. After Natalie Portman’s career, she wouldn’t be interested in making Matilda. So, we had to move on to another story and try to return with a revenge story.
Personally, from what I’ve seen of Colombiana, I’m glad they haven’t been able to make Mathilda. Don’t get me wrong, it could be a really fun time at the movies, but Leon was more than just a typical action film. It seems the Luc Besson, who created that film almost 20 years ago, is a very different filmmaker now. He’s successful with what he’s doing but please, unless you intend to capture the mood and spirit of the original, leave Mathilda alone.