|The Fifth Element concept designs by Jean Paul Gaultier|
Did you know that singer Prince was supposed to play the character of radio host Ruby Rhod instead of Chris Tucker?
The 1997 Luc Besson film, The Fifth Element, is one of my guilty pleasures. While the story is derivative and weak, I absolutely love the fun and zany style of the film. But it might have been even zanier. The character of Ruby Rhod was originally called Loc Rhod and Besson envisioned him as legendary performer Prince. They tried to hire Prince to play Rhod, but he complained the costume was too "effeminate."
Tucker took the role and said he modeled Ruby Rhod after Michael Jackson and Prince. Costume designer Jean Paul Gaultier said, "Maybe he’s less Michael Jackson and more Janet."
io9 has a great article, by Meredith Woerner, covering legendary fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier's work at a new exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum of Art. Gaultier designed a costume for Ruby Rhod. But a bizarre design, and poor English, made Prince quit the project.
Gaultier is a professional costume designer who's worked on films like Pedro Almodóvar's Kika, Peter Greenaway's The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, and Jean-Pierre Jeunet's La Cité des enfants perdus (The City of Lost Children).
Check out the rest of the images after the jump and read his behind-the-scenes story about the design Prince said was too girlie (click to enlarge).
"One of the thousand costumes in The Fifth Element, I took my inspiration for many of them from my own collections. Filming was originally planned for 1992, with Julia Roberts, Mel Gibson and Prince in the leading roles but due to a lack of financing the project was put on hold. At that time, the role of Ruby Rhod, the outrageous media personality finally played by Chris Tucker, had been given to Prince.
"When the singer was giving a series of concerts in Paris, Luc Besson wanted us both to meet with him to show him my sketches. Prince had already attended my runway shows, but he came and went very quickly every time, so we had never been formally introduced. While I was waiting for Luc in his office, I saw this huge bodyguard appear, with Prince trailing behind him. As Luc hasn't yet arrived, I thought he must have wanted me to meet with Prince alone, so we could get to know each other a little bit. In broken English, and with my strong French accent, I tried my best to make conversation, something like 'Hell-O Prin-ze, welcome to Par-isse! So for ze role I sink…'
"'I showed him my drawings, but he didn't say a word. I had had an idea for a really funny costume with netting which quite long body hair would pass through, and I had done front and back versions of it. So then I explained to Prince: 'Eet eel fake 'air, you know, and eet eel beaucoup, beaucoup, airy, vraiment fun, and ze back is made of sat, and on ze back were eez ze faux cul, you know, a very big faux cul.' and I slapped my buttocks to show him how the back of the costume would be designed.
"Still not saying anything, Prince gave me this Charlie Chaplin kind of look. I could see that something had just happened, but I didn't know what, only that he had indicated to his body guard that he wanted to leave right then and there. I thought he was going to go and see Luc. Later, Luc told me that Prince had been very surprised and amused — by my presentation, but that he found the costumes a bit too effeminate. And, most importantly, he had thought he [said] 'F**k you, f**k you!' when I was saying in my terrible English accent 'faux cul, faux cul' [fake a**]!" - Jean Paul Gaultier
When the project restarted, The Fifth Element costume design was completed by Jean Moebius Giraud and Jean-Claude Mézières.
"The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk" runs from October 25th to February 23rd, 2014, at the Brooklyn Museum. You can buy tickets here.
See more of Jean Paul Gaultier's work at www.jeanpaulgaultier.com.
Click on the links if you want to see more of Jean Paul Gaultier's film work and The Fifth Element on my blog.
What do you think of the concept art? If you've seen The Fifth Element what did you think?