French film director Damien Chazelle, who helmed the Academy Award-winning movies Whiplash, La La Land, and First Man, is poised to make a big splash with his next feature film. His upcoming American period epic, Babylon, will explore the Jazz Age of the 1920s, when Hollywood transitioned from silent films to talkies. The star-studded ensemble cast will play fictional characters who are loosely inspired by real-life Hollywood stars from that time period.
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Damien, 37, revealed that he had the idea for the premise of Babylon when he was 15 years old. “The basic idea was just to do a big, epic, multicharacter movie, 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,” he said. Learn more about Babylon including the release date, the cast, and more, below.
Release Date: When is Babylon Coming Out?
Babylon is set for a limited theatrical release on Christmas Day 2022 (December 25). Then, the film will be released worldwide on January 6, 2023. Plans for the film with Damien directing were announced in July 2019, with Lionsgate as the frontrunner to acquire the rights. But Paramount Pictures ended up securing ownership over the project in November 2019. Filming was initially set to take place in California in mid-2020, until the COVID-19 pandemic delayed production. Instead, filming began on July 1, 2021 and wrapped on October 21, 2021.
Who is in the Cast of Babylon?
Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie, who starred together in 2019’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, lead an ensemble cast in Babylon. Brad is playing Jack Conrad, a hard-partying “über-movie star,” according to Damien’s Vanity Fair interview. Damien compared Brad’s character to late actors John Gilbert, Clark Gable, and Douglas Fairbanks. Margot is playing Nellie LaRoy, a “scrappy aspiring actress” who is new to Hollywood. Damien compared Margot’s character to late actresses Clara Bow, Jeanne Eagels, Joan Crawford, and Alma Rubens. Brad signed onto the film in January 2020, followed by Margot who confirmed her involvement in March 2021. Emma Stone was reportedly originally in the mix to be the lead female star.
Tobey Maguire will star as fictional character James McKay. Tobey is also an executive producer on the film. Newcomer Diego Calva will play Manny Torres, a Mexican immigrant and Hollywood outsider. The rest of the cast, who will all play fictional characters, includes Jean Smart, Katherine Waterston, Olivia Wilde, Samara Weaving, Spike Jonze, Lukas Haas, Eric Roberts, Li Jun Li, Chloe Fineman, Jeff Garlin, Jovan Adepo, Rory Scovel, Phoebe Tonkin, Troy Metcalf, and Flea of Red Hot Chilli Peppers. The Handmaid’s Tale star Max Minghella is the only actor who is playing a real-life person in Babylon, that being late film producer Irving Thalberg.
Who is the Creative Team Behind Babylon?
Damien Chazelle is directing and writing Babylon, his fourth feature film. His first movie was the 2014 psychological drama Whiplash with Miles Teller and J.K. Simmons. He was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for Whiplash. Then, he helmed the romantic musical comedy La La Land with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling. Damien won the Academy Award for Best Director, and was nominated for Best Original Screenplay, for La La Land. His third feature film, First Man, was a biographical drama film with Ryan Gosling playing Neil Armstrong. At the worldwide box office, Whiplash grossed $49 million, La La Land grossed $448 million, and First Man grossed $105 million.
Olivia Hamilton, Marc Platt, and Matt Plouffe are the executive producers of Babylon, alongside Tobey Maguire. Marc, who is the father of actor Ben Platt, also produced La La Land. The rest of the Babylon production team includes cinematographer Linus Sandgren, music composer Justin Hurwitz, and editor Tom Cross. They’ve all collaborated with Damien on his past films. Marc Platt Productions and Material Pictures are the production companies on Babylon, while the distributor is Paramount Pictures.
What is Babylon About?
Babylon is not a musical, nor is it based on a book. Back in 2019, a draft of the film’s screenplay actually leaked online. It’s unclear how different the final screenplay is from the leaked draft. In his Sept. 2022 interview with Vanity Fair, Damien shared some great teasers about the film. He explained how he wanted to highlight how Hollywood’s transition during the Jazz Age came at a price. “Everything is shifting underneath people’s feet, and I became really fascinated by the human cost of disruption at that magnitude, at a time when there was no road map, when everything was just new and wild,” he told the outlet.
Damien talked about the main characterJack Conrad who is played by Brad Pitt. Damien said about Jack, “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.” He also explained how he differentiated the film’s look from La La Land and Whiplash. “It was really a wild West period for these people, this gallery of characters, as they rise and fall, rise, fall, rise again, fall again,” he said.
Damien told Vanity Fair that creating Babylon was “the hardest thing” he’s done in his career thus far. “Just the logistics of it, the number of characters, the scale of the set pieces, the span of time that the movie charts—it all conspired to make it particularly challenging, but it was a challenge that was pretty exciting to take on,” he said.