Brad Pitt & Damien Chazelle On Filming ‘Babylon’s Craziest Scenes’: ‘A Lot Of Nudity’

BabylonDamien Chazelle’s star-studded exploration of 1920s Hollywood depravity and excess, had its world premiere in Los Angeles on Thursday alongside stars Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie and Diego Calva.

Chazelle first came up with the concept, which focuses on the era of the transition from silent films to talkies 15 years ago when he first moved to Los Angeles.

“I became really interested in the origins of all of this, all of this craziness, and I think what really made me think there was a movie out there was that I was reading stuff just by curiosity and found myself continually shocked by them,” he said. The Hollywood Reporter on the red carpet. “I had read about parties, drug use, the way movies were made these days – the uninhibited, unbridled savagery – and found my jaw on the floor all the time.”

“I kind of felt like OK, if I can capture some semblance of that and put it on screen, and not compromise it, not sanitize it – I just feel like so many movies on the old Hollywood are buying into the old Hollywood myth of everything being clean and sleek and that wasn’t it, at least in those days,” the writer-director continued. “So if I could do that, it felt OK to me, it’s a movie worth making.”

Pitt plays fictional silent film star Jack Conrad in the film, with Robbie as aspiring actress Nellie LaRoy and Calva as Mexican immigrant Manny Torres, who is looking for his big break. When casting his three lead roles, Chazelle said Pitt was the first to sign on, and “there aren’t a lot of people, I think, who could play Brad in any of this. The character is an all-time movie star, so you kind of need an all-time movie star to play him; there aren’t many today. With Margot, you needed someone who was a movie star but also someone who had come on stage recently. I wanted someone who mirrored her character’s journey a bit and was also totally fearless.

As for Calva, who considers the film his first major project in English after starring in Narcos: Mexico, Chazelle said, “It was kind of the Hollywood cliché of a real find. I had this dream that it would be someone in this role that we didn’t know, who was a newcomer to people, but that’s a hard thing to do, to find someone who’s really new who can defend against Margot and Brad and people like that. So I was lucky, it was the luck of the draw to be able to come across Diego, find him and put him on screen. I think he’s a real movie star.

One of the film’s biggest talking points became its wild and outlandish scenes, which included hundreds of extras, snakes, alligators and a party scene so bawdy it took almost two weeks to shoot.

Pitt admitted that when it came to filming the party, “Day one was a little shocking, even for me. I went, ‘Wow, wow, we really do this'”, teasing that there was ‘lots of nudity, lots of nudity. And then the third day, it was like, ‘Yeah, a lot of nudity.’ And then two weeks later, it was like another day at the office.

The star also pointed to another scene “where we’re running the light and there’s 700 extras behind us, and we’re trying to capture this shot and everyone is freaking out to get it and rushing in and the crew is going crazy – this cinema represents for me, it is often what it is.

Pitt added of exploring the Hollywood era of the 1920s: “It’s a completely different style of acting. They were great, they said, and it wasn’t until I started studying them that I could see the real charm and artistry of what they did.

Besides his leading trio, Babylon also includes a star-studded set including Jean Smart, Tobey Maguire, Olivia Wilde, Samara Weaving, Max Minghella, Flea, Lukas Haas, Eric Roberts, Jovan Adepo and Li Jun Li.

Minghella recalls reading the “crazy” script for the first time, and how Chazelle had “a singular vision, it was really clear that he saw something none of us were going to be able to see until what we are there. When I sat down to watch this movie, I was almost crying, just from the joy of seeing something so cinematic. Li said when she first looked at him, “I remember holding onto my face so hard that I had handprints on my cheek after I walked out. I also remember Jean Smart and I were at the same screening and we walked out and we were both like, “Whew, we forgot to breathe,” because it was a wild ride.

It was perhaps the craziest race for the production team, as producer Matt Plouffe said when he first heard Chazelle’s idea 13 years ago: “I thought that it was probably the most impossible movie I would ever be involved with. Honestly, I’m really grateful to be here because for so long I thought, ‘This movie will probably never get made.’ There are so few places in the world that would make this movie, to be honest, and Paramount stepped in and did something unheard of, to support a movie like this, made that way.

Plouffe added: “It really felt like every day everything could fall apart, so it was almost like there was something spiritual watching over us – maybe our Hollywood ancestors.”

Babylon hits theaters on December 23.

Brad Pitt & Damien Chazelle On Filming ‘Babylon’s Craziest Scenes’: ‘A Lot Of Nudity’ – Nifey