The post contains mild spoilers for "Babylon."

The Hollywood epic "Babylon," directed by Damien Chazelle ("Whiplash," "La La Land"), hits theaters this week. The film stars Margot Robbie, Brad Pitt, Diego Calva, Jean Smart, Li Jun Li, and Jovan Adepo as denizens of 1920s Hollywood, navigating the move from silent films to talkies. The story is massive in its scale, with over 100 speaking roles and some pretty wild scenes.

In one sequence, which you've undoubtedly seen in the trailers, aspiring actress Nellie LaRoy (Robbie) dances with abandon and parties like crazy, complete with a cast of gyrating extras taking advantage of the excess of the unregulated film industry of the roaring of the '20s. In another, we watch as the camera runs through a silent film set, with several projects shooting simultaneously, hundreds of extras in a battle scene, and drugs circulating in peanut shells. There's even a scene in an underground nightmare of a party that involves a live alligator and far more concerning scenarios.

It's safe to say "Babylon" is the most ambitious of Chazelle's films thus far, and I recently spoke to producer Matthew Plouffe at the film's premiere about how he met with Chazelle around 13 years ago to talk about the idea for "Babylon." At the time, they never thought the film would happen.

'It Was Always So Gigantic And Over The Top'

According to Plouffe, the original idea for "Babylon" hadn't changed very much since Chazelle first showed it to him over a decade ago. He said, "It was always this impossible. The thing about this movie, and part of why it took 13 years to get made, is that it was always sort of the impossible movie."

Considering the size of some of the set pieces we see in the film, which runs over three hours, "Babylon" does seem like something a studio might balk at. Plouffe was thinking about it as he went to the carpet that evening. "I was driving here tonight thinking," Plouffe recalled, "the number of times I thought, 'We'll never make 'Babylon.' What studio is going to step up and make this movie?'"

Even if they got someone on board for the project, it's hard to imagine that a studio wouldn't have suggested fewer practical effects, with the complexity of some of the shots and scenes that were lined up. Of course, Plouffe says that the idea was always to do it practically. He explains:

"It was always so gigantic and over the top, and of course, we always wanted to shoot everything practically, and this movie has snakes and alligators and a battle scene with 700 extras. And all of it is practical, and that's not really how movies get made."

The snake scene, in particular (which has also been teased in the trailers), involved three different live snakes and an actor sucking honey (substituting for venom) out of another's neck. And you thought your parties got weird!

'It Was Always The Dream'

Most writers and directors have that one project in the back of their heads that they'd love to make, but they know it'll require a certain amount of clout to get the greenlight. Well, Chazelle certainly has clout now. His 2014 film "Whiplash" saw him nominated for an Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. "La La Land" was nominated for 14 awards and won six, including Best Director, making Chazelle the youngest person to win that award.

Plouffe says that "Babylon" was their dream project. "When we first talked about it, we hadn't really had careers yet. It was always the dream. It was the 'one day' movie. 'One day, if we have any success in our careers, maybe somebody will talk to us about 'Babylon.'"

Now the dream is real. "Babylon" already has five nominations for the Golden Globe Awards and nine for the 28th Critics Choice Awards. (Full disclosure: I am a member of the Critics Choice Association.) Could Oscar gold be next?

"Babylon" will hit theaters on December 23, 2022.

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The post Damien Chazelle's Babylon Was Seen as An 'Impossible' Movie By Its Producer [Exclusive] appeared first on /Film.