LEO : THE PROFESSIONAL (1994)
Mathilda, a twelve-year old New York girl, is living an undesirable life among her half-family. Her father stores drugs for two-faced cop Norman Stansfield. Only her little brother keeps Mathilda from breaking apart. One day, Stansfield and his team take cruel revenge on her father for stretching the drugs a little, thus killing the whole family. Only Mathilda, who was out shopping, survives by finding shelter in Léon’s apartment in the moment of highest need. Soon, she finds out about the strange neighbour’s unusual profession – killing – and desperately seeks his help in taking revenge for her little brother. Léon, who is completely unexperienced in fatherly tasks, and in friendships, does his best to keep Mathilda out of trouble. Natalie Portman was originally turned down by Todd M. Thaler (the casting director) due to being too young, but she returned to the auditions and performed the scene where Mathilda laments the loss of her brother. Luc Besson was so impressed with the depth of emotion she summoned during the audition that he gave her the role. During the filming involving all of the police cars on the street, a man ran from a store he had just robbed. When he encountered the movie set by accident, he saw all of the “police” and gave himself up to a bunch of uniformed extras. Mathilda checks herself and Léon in under the name “MacGuffin”. “MacGuffin” is a movie term coined by Alfred Hitchcock for a trivial element in a movie which serves no other purpose than to drive the plot forwards. The pistols that Léon use in the film are Beretta 92FS’s with AL-GI-MEC compensators added on. In some scenes, he affixes them with sound suppressor, with threads that extend past the compensator cuts to cancel out the escaping gases that could potentially escape and produce a loud gunshot. In the final firefight, one of Léon’s Berettas is seen with a stainless or “Inox” frame. Liv Tyler was considered for the part of Mathilda but, at age 15, she was deemed too old. Nathalie Portman favorite actors is Jean Reno and Danny Aiello, a bonus for her they were both in the movie. Léon Gaumont was a French inventor developing cinematographic techniques in the late 19th century alongside with the Lumière brothers. Gaumont is the name of the production company that made this film. According to Patrice Ledoux, Luc Besson planned Léon as filler. At the time, he had already started working on The Fifth Element, but production was delayed due to Bruce Willis’s schedule. Rather than dismiss the production team and lose his creative momentum, Besson wrote Léon. It took him only 30 days to write the script, and the shoot lasted only 90 days. Ironically, Léon is now generally considered to be a far superior film to The Fifth Element. All of the interiors of Léon’s apartment were shot in Paris; all of the shots of the outside corridor were shot six weeks earlier in New York.