Brad Pitt on Working with Damien Chazelle in Babylon


Brad Pitt expresses his fatigue with the Hollywood scene while promoting the grand historical drama “Babylon.” In this sprawling tale set in the 1920s, Pitt plays the role of an aging silent film star named Jack, portrayed in Damien Chazelle’s star-studded Oscar contender. 

Margot Robbie and Diego Calva lead the ensemble cast. Pitt candidly acknowledged that his character, Jack, resonates with his current perspective on the world.

In a feature for W Magazine, Brad Pitt remarked, “Regrettably, this sense of melancholy might be an innate facet of my personality, a sort of inherent melancholy. Nevertheless, there’s a weariness that creeps in as the character progresses. It’s a weariness towards the world, something I can certainly empathize with to some extent.”

Pitt further elaborated, “In the present time, it seems there’s more inclination to undermine each other rather than to lend a helping hand. I find myself growing a bit weary.” 

The Academy Award winner, who had previously discussed pottery as a therapeutic outlet, pointed out that he had an immediate connection with the “Babylon” script crafted by Damien Chazelle.

“I’d been following Damien since ‘Whiplash,'” Pitt shared. “When the script arrived, it was a substantial 180 pages. I remember thinking, ‘This is a masterpiece. But what will need to be trimmed?’ After all, it’s a real challenge to squeeze 120 pages into a film. But Damien assured me, ‘Nothing. I’ll maintain a pace of about a minute per page. It’ll flow.'” Pitt revealed that Chazelle drew inspiration from Martin Scorsese’s works “GoodFellas” and “Casino” for the expansive narrative of “Babylon.”

Brad Pitt Appreciated Damien Chazelle for ‘Babylon’

Damien Chazelle’s “Babylon” undoubtedly stands as the most ambitious cinematic endeavor of the Oscar-winning director’s career thus far. Unfolding a sprawling narrative of evil in Old Hollywood, the film stretches over three hours and introduces endless characters. The ensemble is headed by A-list talents such as Brad Pitt and Margot Robbie. Undoubtedly a monumental undertaking in cinema, the project saw Chazelle rise to the challenge, according to his cast. In a recent interview, Brad Pitt offered Nothing but admiration for Chazelle’s prowess as a visual storyteller.

“To begin with, it’s Damien Chazelle,” Pitt responded when asked about his interest in joining the film. “When he emerged with ‘Whiplash,’ it brought something novel and refreshing, an energetic dynamism I hadn’t encountered before. 

And, well, he’s been consistently remarkable. In my book, he’s now four for four.” Pitt elucidated how Chazelle’s meticulous attention to detail and passion for Hollywood history made the film’s extravagant opulence possible.

“However, this experience differed in the way that there’s always a fresh perspective I discover with new directors, each possessing their distinct language and style,” Pitt elaborated. “And what Damien captures so masterfully… 

I mean, gaze at this image (a ‘Babylon’ poster) – it’s authentic. That’s not the result of computer-generated wizardry. This is all happening simultaneously, and somehow he encapsulates it all. The pacing of this creation is unprecedented, something I’ve yet to encounter. It’s akin to keeping stride, honestly.”

Chazelle, during his appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival, had previously discussed the epic proportions of the film. During the casting phase, he emphasized the intricate interplay between historical precision and his imaginative storytelling instincts.

“‘Babylon’ presented me with the most expansive cast and the greatest number of roles I’ve ever managed by a significant margin,” he remarked. “The casting process was an extensive journey. It’s primarily a fictional work with fictional characters, albeit inspired by amalgams of real individuals. 

While penning their personas, I derived inspiration from many authentic sources. However, the focus soon shifted to casting, seeking performers capable of astonishing us. That was the guiding principle – dismantling all preconceived notions about that era, those personalities, and unearthing actors who could convey that essence.”

Interview Questions

In an interview, a question asked Brad, “And Brad, could you share your experience collaborating with Damien? Are there any standout memories that come to mind?”

Brad replied: (putting his arm around Damien). Working with Damien has been truly special. He’s incredibly considerate and compassionate. Let me tell you. I was genuinely captivated by the way he orchestrated everything. The energy on set was unlike anything I’ve encountered before, and that’s a rarity for me.

This guy burst onto the scene with ‘Whiplash’ and grabbed everyone’s attention. He injects a new and refreshing dimension into filmmaking. Unsurprisingly, he holds the record as the youngest director to win an Oscar… Is that accurate? This being only his fourth film, he’s batting a perfect score.

Switching gears, I’m curious about your approach to showcasing diverse perspectives in your work. You’ve explored narratives featuring a Latino man in Hollywood, a white woman, a white man, a Black man, and an East Asian woman. 

Damien: It was more deliberate than a grand scheme. What intrigues me about this era is that contrary to expectations, given Hollywood’s supposed “progress,” the early period was more diverse than the following decades. 

Much of that can be attributed to the unregulated “Wild Wild West” nature in Hollywood during its infancy.

Various individuals assumed different roles, and then the advent of sound and the introduction of specific moral codes transformed it into more of an industry. As a result, much of that excitement became confined, and you need to fast-forward several decades to glimpse any semblance of that liberating spirit returning.


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