For his first film since 2018’s First Man (also his best movie), director Damien Chazelle reunited Once Upon a Time in Hollywood stars Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt for a different kind of Hollywood story. Babylon is “a big, epic, multi-character movie,” Chazelle told Vanity Fair, “set in these early days of Los Angeles and Hollywood, when both of these things were coming into what we now think of them as.”
Chazelle wanted to make Babylon for years, even before Best Picture winner (kind of) La La Land, but it was “too massive.” The film has a reported $110 million budget, a nine-digit rarity in an era when only movies with superheroes, dinosaurs, or Tom Cruise get that kind of dough. A good chunk of the budget presumably went to Robbie and Pitt.
As for who the two mega-stars are playing:
Pitt’s character, Jack Conrad, is a hard-partying “über-movie star,” as Chazelle puts it, inspired by the likes of John Gilbert, Clark Gable, and Douglas Fairbanks: “He’s reaching a point in his life in his career where he’s starting to look back and starting to wonder what’s ahead.” As for Robbie, she’s playing Nellie LaRoy, a scrappy aspiring actress who’s an amalgam of early stars like Clara Bow, Jeanne Eagels, Joan Crawford, and Alma Rubens. Nellie is a new Hollywood transplant who’s suddenly in the spotlight, an experience that the Wolf of Wall Street’s breakout could relate to.
There’s no trailer for Babylon, but Paramount did release the first photos from the film:
Babylon, which also stars Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire, Samara Weaving, Li Jun Li, Katherine Waterston, Olivia Wilde, Spike Jonze, Lukas Haas, Diego Calva, and Flea (sure, why not), opens on December 25.