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The Story Behind Rihanna’s Sexy, Shape-Shifting Alien in Valerian

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When it was announced that Rihanna would play a sexy, shape-shifting alien named Bubble in Valerian, Luc Besson’s adaptation of the French sci-fi comic series, the Internet understood this as perfect casting. The sexy singer-songwriter has a habit of transforming herself—or red carpets, music videos, photo shoots, and the odd acting gig—with such boldness and ease that it wouldn’t surprise anyone if Rihanna revealed herself to be an actual extraterrestrial: some futuristic creature put on Earth to add a little excitement to our increasingly bland, stylist-curated red carpets. Besson, a lifelong fan of the comic series, immediately knew that Rihanna would make the perfect Bubble in his passion project. Yet it surprised him more than anyone when Rihanna halted her schedule to take on the role.

“Everybody said, ‘Forget it; that’s impossible,” Besson has said of the casting coup. “I said, ‘It doesn’t cost anything to try.’” In fact, the director said that simply getting ahold of Rihanna for the initial meeting was the most difficult aspect of their collaboration.

“She’s one of the biggest stars in the world, so to catch her is a nightmare because, like, you have a meeting with her sometime at 2 A.M., and you’re not the last one,” Besson told Vulture. But the unlikely partnership between French filmmaker and Barbadian pop star was surprisingly easy once Rihanna heard about the character she would be playing.

Though “glampods”—alien shape-shifters—appeared in the original comic series, Bubble is Besson’s invention. Valerian (Dane DeHaan), the hero of the story, first sets eyes on Bubble after stumbling into Space Station’s red-light district and seeing her on stage. When Besson was dreaming up the project, he envisioned that Bubble would dazzle Valerian (and audience members) with a showstopping performance during which she uses her powers to slide through a kaleidoscope of costume changes amid impossible choreography.

“Luc had this idea that this one character can change into every man’s fantasy—the cabaret performer, the Marilyn Monroe-type performer, the African tribeswoman—but in a way that also appealed to women,” explained Valerian producer Virginie Besson-Silla by phone. “She is sexy and cute, but the sexiness is never negative. It was more about the idea of being in awe and seeing something change and become more and more beautiful, moving in a way that no one on this planet could.”

Rihanna loved the idea so much that she shed her entourage and other superstar trappings; flew to Paris for over a week to film; and walked onto set eager to learn. “Obviously Rihanna’s not scared of the camera, and she plays in front of thousands of people,” Besson said. “But she told me, ‘I’m a beginner at acting and unless I work with someone who is good, I won’t learn.’ I was touched by her honesty, because if she’d said, ‘I’m a superstar; you can’t shoot me from this angle,’ what could I have done? She followed direction very well, got all the details, and was delightful to work with.”

Although she only gets about five minutes of screen time recognizably as Rihanna—the singer-songwriter did motion-capture work for the rest of her performance, in an unrecognizable shape—the aforementioned intergalactic makeover montage is one of the most delicious sequences of the film, and well worth the price of admission.

The sequence was also a special one for costume designer Olivier Bériot who, with his team, created nearly 400 costumes based on drawings Besson commissioned from concept artists in the years leading up to production. When it came to the makeover montage, though, Besson let Bériot have free rein over the designs after giving him a few guidelines.

It was Besson’s idea, for example, to give Rihanna a throwback cabaret costume complete with bowler hat, one of the lone references to an era long gone in the film’s 28th-century galaxy. For the design, Bériot looked back to classic cabaret costumes—like the ones worn by Liza Minnelli’s Sally Bowles in the 1972 film.

“We kept the shape of the design of the costume that you see on Liza Minnelli,” Bériot said of the black halter top, plunging neckline, thigh-high boots, and short-shorts shared by both designs. “But we used some shiny material, embroidery, sequins to give it something modern and make it a little less 70s.”
Was Bubble’s sartorial nod to Sally Bowles conscious, you might wonder? Surprisingly, even though Bubble is an illegal alien essentially serving out an indentured servitude doing sexy, shape-shifting alien things—and is named Bubble—the character is also very cultured.

“[Bubble is] an alien who has the capacity to take any shape she wants,” Besson has explained. “In our film, glampods are artists who’ve gone to school, so they know masters such as Shakespeare, Molière, and Rimbaud by heart. In that way, Bubble is the ultimate actress.” (We presume Liza Minnelli ranks up there with Molière.)

The Rihanna-as-Sally-Bowles moment is brief, as Bubble whirls through more costume changes, including an elaborately appointed Egyptian princess and a Marilyn Monroe copycat, complete with slinky gown. Her nurse outfit is an otherworldly take on the already-sexy-nurse costume beloved by sorority sisters on Halloween, only with an even sexier twist—a bustier bodice and curve-hugging seams.

The costume—a cross between a nurse and Catwoman, with a cherry-red stethoscope tied tight around Bubble’s neck like a choker—was created with Japanese latex artist Atsuko Kudo, whose design gives Rihanna a smooth, Barbie silhouette. Most impressive, however, is the fact that Bériot and Kudo created this vacuum-packed costume—and the rest of Rihanna’s looks—without the pop star present.

“She arrived on set one day before filming her scenes,” explained Bériot. “We had one day of working together. But her team sent very precise measurements, so we worked with a body double . . . when she arrived, everything fit her very well.”

Bériot, like Besson, was a bit nervous about what to expect from Rihanna—but the pop star did not let him down.

“She jumped into the costumes without any questions,” said Bériot. “I was surprised. I was happy. I thought maybe she would want to change everything, but not at all. She jumped in them, and she played with them. She is a real performer and she is used to transforming herself for each performance.”

As Rihanna tells it, though, the role was a natural fit for her: “Bubble is an artist, and what makes her feel free is performing and making people happy.”

In our conversation, Besson-Silla found herself exclaiming that Rihanna shares many of Bubble’s otherworldly, giddiness-inducing virtues.

“She has this magic,” Besson-Silla gushed. “The other day at the premiere, Luc said, ‘She is a queen,’ and she is. Because she is still young and has this element about her like a little girl, but at the same time you feel that she is fearless. With her, this part was just unique.”

As for what Rihanna thought of the film, and her performance, Besson-Silla said, “When she saw the film, at the premiere, she was giggling the whole time. I think she was so happy.”

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A Look At Rihanna’s Acting History, From ‘Bring It On: All or Nothing’ to ‘Ocean’s 8’

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The trailer for the highly anticipated Ocean’s Trilogy sequel/spin-off, Ocean’s 8was released today (Dec. 19) and features an all-star cast of numerous badass women — including everybody’s favorite Barbadian triple-threat, Rihanna.

The iconic superstar has proved time and time again that she is a force to be reckoned since her early days, through her music, fashion and beauty ventures, but also her various acting roles, which have truly showed her versatility and superb talent.

From early work such as Bring It On: All or Nothing to this past year’s sci-fi adventure Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, Rihanna has proved she has what it takes to make it in the acting world. Here’s a look back at Rihanna’s roles in both film and television.

Bring It On: All or Nothing (2006)

The cheerleading comedy finds a transfer student trying to join the cheerleading squad of a rough high school, where she not only faces off against the new school’s head cheerleader, but against her former school in a cheer competition as well. Rihanna makes a cameo appearance in the film, where she announces the cheerleading competition and declares that the winners shall appear in a music video with her. A small role, yes, but as good a starting place for Rihanna as any.

Battleship

In this sci-fi action film, we find Rihanna far from the comforts of the stage, thrust into a war filled with uncertainty. The 2012 film based off the board game of the same name follows a fleet of ships that battle a series of unfamiliar foes, where Rihanna stars as Cora Raikes, a weapons specialist aboard one of the ships. Director Peter Berg stated in an interview with GQ that he came up with the idea to cast Rihanna after he realized she could act when she performed a skit on Saturday Night Live. Rihanna later went on to state that she accepted the role because she wanted to “do something badass.”

This Is the End

The 2013 end of the world comedy directed by Seth Rogen features a hilarious appearance from Rihanna, who is attending a party at James Franco’s house where she and numerous other celebrities are faced with the doom that will be brought on from the impending apocalypse. Though brief, Rihanna’s cameo showcases her comedic chops and versatility as an actress.

Annie

Starring in a movie-within-a-movie, Rihanna plays the villain of “MoonQuake Lake,” the flick that Jamie Foxx and Quvenzhané Wallis go to see together in the musical adaptation. The fake film also co-stars Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher.

Home

This 2015 film from DreamWorks finds Rihanna cast in the lead role as Gratuity “Tip” Tucci, a teenage girl who befriends an alien on the run from his own people. During a round of press interviews for the film, Rihanna and her costars Jim Parsons and Steve Martin were asked about the possibility of life on other planets — to which Rihanna suggests keeping an open mind.

Bates Motel

On the hit A&E series, Rihanna starred as Marion Crane, the troubled secretary who played an iconic role in the 1960 horror classic Psycho, which the series is based off of. Taking over the character from Janet Leigh, Rihanna brought a modern and more relatable version to the screen for viewers to identify with. Viewers who were hoping for a remake of the infamous murder scene were out of luck, however, as Rihanna’s version of Crane survived and her lover, Sam Loomis, meet his untimely demise instead.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

Meet Bubble, the shape-shifting burlesque dancer portrayed by Rihanna in this fantasy film about two special operatives who must race to identify the evil that threatens the future of their home and the universe. Director Luc Besson contacted RiRi’s manager to offer her the small but crucial role, to which she accepted, and shot around her jam-packed touring and promotions schedule.

Ocean’s Eight

Set to be released Summer 2018, Ocean’s Eight will find Sandra Bullock’s character, Debbie Ocean, attempting to pull off a heist at New York City’s star-studded Met Gala, following in the footsteps of her infamous family. Rihanna will star as Nine Ball, a computer genius and hacker who aids Debbie in her quest, and will star along other such acting stars as Cate Blanchett, Mindy Kaling and Sarah Paulson.

Source: Billboard

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Rihanna for Vogue Paris (December 2017)

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Check out all the scans from the latest edition of Vogue Paris!

Rihanna is December’s special guest editor and she graces not one but three 3 covers. The three photoshoots were shot by 3 different photographers (Juergen Teller, Inez and Vinoodh, and Jean-Paul Goude) with 3 editorials. The magazine is out on newsstands now! Don’t miss it and view all the photos at RihannaVault.com

    

So we got to ask…

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Rihanna on Building a Beauty Empire: ‘I’m Going To Push the Boundaries in This Industry’

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Rihanna’s make-up line, Fenty Beauty, has garnered rave reviews since its launch in September, both for its quality-to-affordability ratio and its emphasis on inclusivity. (It launched with 40 shades of foundation and an ad campaign featuring a diverse array of models.) Now that Fenty Beauty has been named one of TIME‘s 25 Best Inventions of 2017, Time Magazine caught up with its superstar creator to talk about how and why she’s building a beauty empire, and what’s in store for the future.

TIME: What’s your earliest memory of beauty?

Rihanna: My lifelong obsession with makeup started with watching my mom put her makeup on. I always loved to watch her, and all the funny faces she was making in the mirror. I never understood it until I got older and fell in love with makeup myself and really started becoming obsessed. The first time I remember having my makeup done was for this beauty pageant that I did in school. I was 15, about to be 16, just before I got signed. I had my full face done for this pageant — my mom actually did my makeup. And ever since then, ever since I saw foundation on my skin, I could never look at my skin without foundation again. Makeup, it spoiled me.

Why do you wear makeup now? What role does it play in your daily routine?

Makeup is like a secret weapon. Depending on my mood, my look, or the occasion, makeup can go from very subtle to a complete transformation, and that’s the fun in makeup: being able to play and create in endless ways.

You’ve said that you created this line so that all users could have a product that looked good on them, no matter the shade. Did you have difficulty in the past finding products that worked for you? And if so, how did you use that experience while creating your own line?

I’ve had my makeup done thousands of time, and when it comes to foundation, you just never know how it’s going to turn out. I think foundation should look like great skin, so it was important to me that the Pro Filt’r foundation had a soft matte finish because you want a dewy look, but never shiny! It was also important that every woman felt included in this brand. We are all so different, with our own unique skin tones, so we started with the 40 foundation shades out the gate.

What were the most important factors that you considered while creating Fenty Beauty?

Texture is the most important part of the Fenty Beauty brand. The highest priority is in the texture, from the foundation to Match Stix, to Killawatt, to Invisimatte Blotting Powder – it’s all about texture. It was really important to me that each product is made to easily build and layer with lightweight textures that are flexible even when you want to re-apply.

How involved were you in the process of creating the products?

I have 100 percent involvement in this process, which is what makes this so special and very fun. I have so much creative freedom from products to packaging, and that’s really the only way this brand will stay true to my vision for it.

What has surprised you the most about the response to Fenty Beauty?

I never could have anticipated the emotional connection that women are having with the products and the brand as a whole. Some are finding their shade of foundation for the first time, getting emotional at the counter. That’s something I will never get over.

Do you have a favorite product from Fenty Beauty?

I’m obsessed with Gloss Bomb. It never gets old. Everything about it from the XXL wand, the texture, scent and feel. But funny enough, some of my favorite products aren’t even out yet.

What’s next for you and the world of beauty?

The options are pretty much unlimited in the world of beauty, and I love challenges, so I’m going to continue to have fun and push the boundaries in this industry.

A collection! #FentyBeauty

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