Babylon, the other big movie not named Avatar: The Way of Water that will close out 2022, is Director Damien Chazelle’s love letter to Hollywood and how it evolved through its inception.
The film follows four individuals, silent film star Jack Conrad (Brad Pitt), outsiders Nellie LaRoy (Margot Robbie), Manny Torres (Diego Calva), and trumpeter Sidney Palmer (Jovan Adepo) and how each of them adapted to the changes in Hollywood.
Speaking exclusively with Cassius Life, we asked Robbie, Calva, and Adepo what they learned about Hollywood while working on Chazelle’s dramedy/period piece. Robbie and Adepo were shocked to learn that actors and film crew were heavy party animals in the 1920s and still had the energy to go on set and get the job done.
“The main thing, the main takeaway, was just how debaucherous and insane that time was. In my head, if someone said, ‘Think, what was the 1920s in Hollywood like?’ I would’ve thought that everyone was flapper girls doing the Charleston,” Robbie begins.
The main takeaway was just how debaucherous and insane that time was…
She continues, “It was all quite controlled and quaint, and it’s just madness. I started reading these stories, and I was like, ‘Holy sh*t. No wonder so many of them died so young.’ They were just doing so many drugs and just, there were no rules. Talk about an industry that eats you up and spits you out. It was pretty extreme back then.”
Hollywood In The 1920s Was Party Central
Adpeo, who shared with us in a previous interview that Viola Davis’ older sister put him on the path to his Hollywood career, was also shocked at heavy partying in the 1920s.
“Definitely the amount of partying that was going on,” Adepo begins. “And it was crazy because obviously a lot of these artists, as the era was transitioning, they were experiencing all of this on the fly, so to be able to party as much as they were and then wake up, go to set, and then back then they had all of those sets all on just one big dirty mound filming at the same time.”
“It’s kind of amazing how a lot of those guys were probably coked up and hung over but pushing out product at a fast rate. It was pretty impressive to see once I saw the final cut of the film, and they were really burning the candle at both ends back then. I couldn’t imagine doing that now. I’m glad that people have developed different systems and the technology has advanced and things like that, but yeah, that was kind of jarring to witness.”
Holy sh*t. No wonder so many of them died so young.
The Partying Wasn’t The Only Thing Margot Robbie Learned About
Robbie also pointed out some good things she learned about 1920s Hollywood while working on Babylon, telling Cassius Life “learned a lot of beautiful things too.”
“I watched so many silent films that I now have such an appreciation for, not because I’m like, ‘this is brilliant. This is a brilliant movie.’ It’s incredible what they could do back then,” she concluded.
Robbie’s co-star, Diego Calva, also touched on learning from Chazelle how the pioneers were always coming up with something and trying new things.
“I learned with Damien, talking with him about this sense of the pioneers. Everyone was inventing something,” Calva begins. “Because they literally didn’t know how to do it, so they were building all the grammatics, to put in some word. The grammatics of movie making, like the close-ups, it’s the panning, everything, and I love that idea. It was so new, so new that it was effervescent, and full of energy too, that wanted to burn, to be created.”
Be prepared to see some insane party sequences and heavy cocaine use when Babylon arrives in theaters Dec. 23.