Very few movies manage to reach true cult classic status. There are movies like Empire Records, Pulp Fiction, and Rocky Horror Picture Show, but there are a lot more movies that get made that never achieve that unique status.
The Fifth Element has a complicated history with the title of "cult classic," because while a lot of people consider it one of the best sci-fi movies ever, a lot of people claim it's the worst.
Some people say it's "so bad it's good" while others just love it unironically. But there are a lot of things that went on behind the scenes to make it what it became. Whether it was cast members hating it, or the kind of practical effects they worked in, there are a lot of secrets about this movie.
1. Ruby Rhod was almost played by Prince
When the movie was originally being made, director Luc Besson had wanted the singer Prince to play the character that Chris Tucker made famous.
However, when Prince met with costume designer Jean Paul Gaultier, he told Besson that the costumes were "a bit too effeminate," and didn't end up signing on.
Gaultier revealed a little bit about his experience later one.
“I could see that something had just happened, but I didn’t know what, only that he had indicated to his bodyguard that he wanted to leave right then and there. Later, Luc told me that Prince had been very surprised and amused by my presentation.”
Obviously we're happy that Tucker took over, because I couldn't picture it any other way.
2. No, that wasn't actually Mila Jovovich kicking
While the actress had worked really hard to get into fighting shape, she still couldn't manage to get those high kicks as high as she wanted.
Because the movie was made in the mid 90s, the effects weren't exactly as good as they are now, so they had to use practical effects.
Which basically means that they had an artificial leg that they used to execute the kick and just edited it together so it appeared as though it was her leg.
3. The director cast his wife in the movie
The original actress who was signed on to play Diva Plavalaguna had to drop out of the movie last minute, but luckily the director's then wife, Maïwenn Le Besco, agreed to play the part of the blue singing alien.
4. However, that may have been a really awkward choice
While you may not see it on screen, there was likely a lot of tension behind the scenes. Even though his wife had done him a favor and taken the role last minute, he actually began an affair with the leading lady.
Jovovich and Besson got together during pre-production and continued the affair during the shoot. After the movie wrapped, Besson split from his wife and married Jovovich only seven months after the premier date..
Their marriage lasted for two years, but even Bruce Willis had noticed the affair. He said "...the real romance was between Luc and Milla. By the time I had gotten to Paris they were already kind of smitten with each other."
5. One very important scene was almost destroyed
After finishing the movie, the film was shipped to Los Angeles so it could be edited, but the associate producer received a call from the airport and was heartbroken to hear what happened.
"We were escorted into a little room where they brought multiple trashcans of negative that had fallen out of the airplane onto to the tarmac and had been run over by a forklift. That was the diva scene — like, one of the money shots. It was the one thing you absolutely did not want to have happen."
The film was salvageable enough for the editors to save the scene without having to reshoot, but that would have been a huge mistake.
6. Leeloo's hair style made the actress's hair fall out
Jovovich was struggling with the hair for the movie because of the rate her hair was growing. Apparently the constant need to bleach and color it was wreaking havoc on her normally dark hair.
"My hair grows so fast, so every week they’d have to redo my roots. And, at one point, I think the hairdressers went out for a cigarette and left me sitting in the chair cooking underneath the hat and I felt my hair getting hot, but I was like, ‘They must know what they’re doing.’
"Finally, I said, ‘Oh, girls!’ and they went, Gasp! I guess they had forgotten about me and when they took the thing off, my hair was just falling out in clumps and I was pulling it out and pulling it out and they had to make a complete wig.
"So, in the movie when you see Leeloo clean and dry at the apartment on the computer eating chicken, I’ve got a wig on pretty much from that point onward—we only got a few weeks of shooting in with the haircut, and thank God we got the beginning, which is glorious."
7. The director wishes he could remake it
Besson is not only the director of the movie, he actually wrote it as well. While he was excited to bring his vision to life, he has admitted that he wishes that he waited until the effects were easier to use.
"I was a little bit frustrated because I made the film right before all the new effects arrived. So when I did the film it was all blue screen, six hours, dots on the wall, takes forever to do one shot.
"Now, basically, you put the camera on your shoulder and then you run and then you add a couple of dinosaurs and spaceships."
Maybe one day he'll make a sequel.