6 years after winning an Oscar for “La La Land,” writer-director Damien Chazelle is gearing up for a return to Tinseltown with his next feature film “Babylon.” This time, he’s taking it back to the Golden Age of Hollywood, when silent films transitioned to talkies.
Like any Hollywood movie about Hollywood, the cast of “Babylon” is as star-studded as they come, playing a mixture of fictional and historical characters. Among them: Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt (reuniting onscreen for the first time since “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood,” another self-dedicated love letter); Olivia Wilde, Samara Weaving, Tobey Maguire, Jean Smart, Spike Jonze, Chloe Fineman and Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. (The film is not to be confused with “Amsterdam,” David O. Russell’s 1930s caper with a similarly star-stuffed cast led by Margot Robbie, also releasing at the end of the year.)
What can we expect from the “First Man” and “Whiplash” filmmaker’s upcoming flick? Here, TheWrap takes a look at everything we know about “Babylon” so far – the cast, the plot and other details.
What is “Babylon” about?
Like 2011’s “The Artist,” the film will focus on the industry’s turn to sound and how it impacted the careers of stars in the late 1920s. Not much is known about the plot, but CinemaCon attendees got an early look at the yet-to-be-released trailer back in April. TheWrap’s Brian Welk wrote that it “has a lot of style, some jazz but also some madcap humor,” as displayed by a sequence in which a spear flies past Pitt’s character during an elaborately staged battle scene on a film set, missing his head by inches.
Otherwise, plot details are being kept tightly under wraps.
Who’s in the cast?
Originally, Emma Stone (who won the Best Lead Actress Oscar for “La La Land”) was slated for Robbie’s part, but exited in late 2020 due to a scheduling conflict. Robbie will play Clara Bow, Hollywood’s first “It Girl” and a major starlet of the Roaring Twenties. Pitt will portray a character based on leading man John Gilbert, otherwise known by the nickname “The Great Lover.”
Tobey Maguire, who is also one of the film’s executive producers, is set to play silent film superstar Charlie Chaplin. Jean Smart of “Hacks” will play a formidable film critic and Hollywood journalist.
Rounding out the cast are Olivia Wilde, Samara Weaving, Flea, Katherine Waterston, Li Jun Li, Jovan Adepo, Max Minghella, Eric Roberts, Spike Jonze, Phoebe Tonkin, Chloe Fineman, Lukas Haas, Jeff Garlin, Jennifer Grant, P.J. Byrne, Rory Scovel, Frederick Koehler and Troy Metcalf. And that barely scratches the surface of the enormous ensemble cast listed on IMDb.
The crew consists of several of Chazelle’s regular collaborators, such as composer Justin Hurwitz, cinematographer Linus Sandgren, costume designer Mary Zophres and editor Tom Cross. Florencia Martin of “Licorice Pizza” and “Blonde” is in charge of the production design.
When does “Babylon” come out?
The Paramount film will have a limited theatrical release on Christmas Day 2022 and opens wide on Jan. 6, 2023.
It’s been a long road for “Babylon.” Announced in 2019, the movie was originally slated to premiere on Christmas Day 2021. However, the Los Angeles shoot was delayed due to the pandemic, pushing the release date an entire year forward.
Shooting began in early July 2021 and wrapped in October. Boom operator Bryan Mendoza wrote on Twitter that “Babylon” was “easily one of the toughest projects” he’s worked on. He praised the crew as being “without a doubt one of the absolute best in all of Hollywood.”