Cara Delevingne

For Cara Delevingne, filmmaker Luc Besson’s futuristic fantasy movie “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets” was more than just a new rung on the 24-year-old model’s growing acting career ladder. It was an aspirational way of life.

“It was so much fun that I kind of wanted to live in ‘Valerian’ for the rest of my life,” Delevingne says. “It really didn’t feel like work at all.”

She became nearly as enraptured with the sci-fi trappings as Besson himself, who had long dreamed of bringing the popular series of Sixties and Seventies French graphic novels to the screen. So much so that she found herself getting “lost in that world. Obviously, working on the blue screen was a bit different, but it was still so much fun being able to, like a kid, use my imagination 99.9 percent of the time.”

Along with tapping her inner child, there were practical disciplines too, such as transforming her sylph-like frame to attain her character Laureline’s fighting shape. “I’d done a lot of training before, but this was all about constant working out — it was the lifestyle change, really. Every day, waking up at 6, what I ate, the kind of things that I chose to do in my life. That was a complete shift because the discipline was a lot more than I’d ever had before.”

With all of the physical challenges, stunts and FX-driven sequences, the only thing she found herself hungry for was the character scenes she’d become accustomed to in her indie film work. “When it got to the more dialogue-heavy scenes, it was like I’d been starving for those moments,” she laughs. “So when you do finally get to those emotional bits, it’s like, ‘Yes, I’ve finally made it!’”

Delevingne even found herself becoming more Laureline-like off-screen. “I definitely became a lot more decisive about what I wanted. To be honest, I’m quite an indecisive person: one morning I’ll wake up and I want to do something; the next moment I want to do the opposite. So she definitely helped me find a bit more clarity. And also in terms of speaking up and not being afraid to voice my opinion.”

With his previous cult classic sci-fi effort “The Fifth Element,” Besson became known for avant-garde film wardrobes and he lived up to Delevingne’s expectations for “Valerian.” She especially loved her militaristic armored spacesuit, despite tech troubles: “These LED lights did keep going off quite a lot,” she recalls. “The poor guys had to come in and find out what socket was making the whole thing go off, like Christmas lights or something.” Still, she says, “Whatever Luc does always goes into fashion eventually.”

Off screen, Delevingne maintains loyalty to her fashion favorites. “I’m always going to be a massive fan of Karl [Lagerfeld] and Chanel,” she says. “Dior, I’m loving at the moment — they’ve got some really amazing things. Still loving my power suits, [Thierry] Mugler. I’m also still one for my same old pair of Saint Laurent jeans and all my vintage clothes. I’ll never stop buying vintage until I die!”

She’s also found a new dimension to her style sense since shearing off all her hair for her role in the upcoming film “Life in a Year” opposite Jaden Smith. “There’s a lot different things I get to wear,” she says, now sporting a platinum buzzcut. “I’m preferring more to wear dresses and such, because I get to look at my femininity in a different way. The fact that there’s no upkeep, that’s my favorite part about it,” she says. “In the morning, it’s still a weird feeling to kind of brush my hand past my hair. But just doing it really was liberating. The kind of power and not needing hair to be beautiful, and that was the message I really thought I needed to spread.”

The messages she conveys are of primary importance to Delevingne in the days and years ahead. Her debut novel, “Mirror, Mirror,” hits bookshelves in the fall, she continues to develop her songwriting talents and dreams of directing films one day. But she’s also eager to help her younger admirers aspire to a future as filled with endless possibilities as “Valerian.”

“Probably the thing I’m most passionate about at the moment is being an inspiration for young girls and the youth of today, because that is the most important thing,” she says. “And whether it’s by doing a film or working with charities or doing certain docu-series, what I’m trying to do is spread positive messages.”

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