Leon: The Professional

"Hi, Piggy." - Mathilda

"Hi, piggy." Mathilda

☆ Classic

Leon: The Professional (1994) is a ballet of violence.

Directed by Luc Besson.

Starring Jean Reno, Gary Oldman, Natalie Portman, Danny Aiello among others.

The International version of Leon has an additional 25 minutes that are disturbing, but help explain the relationship between Jean and Natalie's characters. According to Luc, when the film was tested in Los Angeles, audiences reacted negatively to the scenes between Reno and Portman. The additional footage unbalanced the main story. I could see where that would happen if you keep everything. I would have done a tighter edit and kept some of the scenes that helped to explain their intense relationship.

The acting puts this film above the usual action films. Natalie brings out the subtext with her eyes and facial expression. Portman was 12 years old when she auditioned for the role Mathilda. Luc hired Natalie on the spot after seeing her audition tape.

Jean looks and acts a little on the retarded side. Reno has stated that he chose to make Leon slow witted to counter the closeness of his relationship to Natalie. Jean said, he let Portman emotionally control the intimate scenes. An actor always has to protect his scene partner during very emotional or physicals moments. The outcome of Jean's carry work adds a beautiful layer and humanizes his character.

Gary is hypnotically bizarre in a good way. Gary is playing a cop who happens to be a junkie. A drug addict behaves mentally and physically in unorthodox ways. Luc allowed Oldman the freedom to improvise and ad lib many of his dialogue and physical characteristics. Michael Badalucco says, that Gary unexpectedly began to smell his face. Badalucco says his terrified look is genuine. Oldman did his homework on junkies and let it inform his performance and take it in new directions. The scene below showcases Gary's character work during his scene with Michael. Watch how even the actor in the background is taken by Oldman's work.

Trivia - Keith A. Glascoe, who played Benny, later became a Fireman in NYC for Ladder Company 21. Keith bravely died in the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001. Glascoe and his wife where expecting their third child when he died.