Damien Chazelle attended the Toronto International Film Festival to talk about his career — from whiplash to his Oscar-winning La La Land — and his upcoming feature Babylon.
During the conversation Chazelle . called Babylon “The hardest shoot I’ve ever had.” The film was shot in and around Los Angeles, also on Paramount’s lot.
It is set in Hollywood in the late 1920s during the film industry’s transition from silent movies to talkies. Babylon explores the rise and fall of multiple characters and has been described as “The Great Gatsby on steroids.”
Chazelle debuted the trailer to the public, which is a non-stop raucous party with wild haired Margot Robbie opening the trailer in conversation with newcomer Diego Calva saying, “I just want everyone to break up forever.” (Chazelle said the trailer would be released online tomorrow.)
The scene then shows a non-stop raucous party that includes an alligator on a leash, profuse drug use, topless women and Pitt firing several guns, dancing in his underwear and falling off a balcony. All this is supported by a manic big band soundscape.
Wearing a sharp mustache and oiled hair, Pitt first says on screen, “When I first moved to LA, there were signs on all the doors: ‘No actors and no dogs allowed.'”
The trailer ends with Robbie at yet another poolside party, shouting to the crowd, “Who wants to see me fight a goddamn snake?” A whiskey bottle-holding Pitt yells back, “Fuck yeah!”
In front of Babylon, the director explained: “I have always loved silent movies. I am one of the followers of the idea of pure cinema.” He added: “The highs of the silent era are some of the highs of cinema, period.”
The massive cast includes Jovan Adepo, Flea, Jean Smart, Olivia Wilde and Samara Weaving, among others.
“Babylon is the largest number of rolls I’ve juggled to date. The casting process took a long time. It’s a largely fictional film in which almost all the characters are inspired by compositions by real people,” said Chazelle.
“It was about capturing the spirit of that time, which was much more wild west,” Chazelle said on Monday of Babylon. “They build a city and an industry from scratch and to do that you need a certain kind of crazy person.” He added: “I don’t think it’s surprising that the people who did that were doing a lot of drugs and partying a lot.”
Paramount will release Babylon on Dec 25.