French Filmmaker Luc Besson Accused of Sexual Assault

A young actress now alleges she was raped by the famed director at a meeting in a Paris hotel.

Luc Besson
Luc Besson attends the 'Eva' premiere during the 68th Berlinale International Film Festival. (Stephane Cardinale - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)
Corbis via Getty Images

French filmmaker Luc Besson has been accused of a “violent sexual assault” by a young actress, who wishes to remain anonymous. The woman, who has acted in two of Besson’s films, alleges that the rape occurred following a May 10 meeting with the director at the Bristol Hotel in Paris. Besson has denied the accusations.

Today, the 59-year-old Besson is a directorial icon responsible for a slew of blockbusters like The Fifth Element and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets. Back in the ’90s, he had a few impressive movies under his belt, but was not yet very publicly known. However, that all changed with the film Léon: The Professional. The film tells the story of a muted Italian hitman in New York City’s Little Italy who finds himself the caretaker of a 12-year-old girl, Mathilda, who is wanted by a gang of corrupt DEA agents. Mathilda repeatedly professes her love to her much-older protector, even performing a seductive “Happy Birthday, Mr. President” routine. Though there were some who disliked the story, the film was a critical and commercial hit, and it elevated Besson to the A-list.

According to the Washington Post, Besson met child actress Maïwenn when she was 12, the same age as Mathilda in the film, and he was 29. They started seeing each other romantically when she turned 15. Maïwenn gave birth to Besson’s daughter when she was 16 and Besson was 33. Maïwenn told a French publication that the love story in Léon between a 12-year-old girl and a much older man was “very much inspired by ours.” Besson later left Maïwenn for Milla Jovovich.

France has been struggling to establish a firm age of consent—it is legally 15 years old, but lawmakers have determined that sex between person over 18 and persons under 15 can only be classified as rape in certain situations, reports The Daily Beast. 

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