By Joe McGovern
Updated July 16, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
Credit: Lou Fallon

With a budget of $180 million, the new sci-fi extravaganza Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets from French director Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element, Lucy) ranks as the most expensive European movie ever made. The film is based on a vibrant graphic-novel series that’s been a touchstone for Star Wars and Avatar, yet Besson exhibited his offbeat flair by casting indie favorite Dane DeHaan (Chronicle) as the title character, a time-traveling cop who solves an intergalactic mystery while crushing on his partner, Laureline (Cara Delevingne).

DeHaan knew he needed to up his awesome quotient. “It occurred to me that I had to look like I could save the universe,” says the actor, who worked with a trainer to achieve a more carved physique. “But luckily, it’s France. They have reasonable working hours. I would exercise in the morning and get on set by noon. It helped me mentally get into the head of the hero, but The Rock gets up much earlier than I do.”

In this exclusive image from Valerian, DeHaan’s scratched-up title character is fixing his space vehicle after a crash. The movie wrapped principal photography on June 3, but now is just beginning its year-long post-production.

“They need every second,” DeHaan says of the film’s extensive special effects. “I’ve done all my body scans and all that, so I think they have enough to computer generate me as much as they have to. I don’t think we’re doing any reshoots or anything, because I think Luc knew exactly what he wanted and got it. You can’t believe the stuff that he has in his head. It’s gonna be crazy. It’s gonna be epic for sure.”

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, which also stars Rihanna, John Goodman, Clive Owen, Ethan Hawke, and Rutger Hauer, opens on July 21, 2017. Check out more EW exclusive photos below.

Credit: Vikram Gounassegarin
Credit: Vikram Gounassegarin
Credit: Daniel Smith

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

  • Movie
  • PG-13
  • Luc Besson