Babylon Featurette Showcases Brad Pitt & Jean Smart’s Shine [EXCLUSIVE]

Damien Chazelle’s Babylon is a film that feels like a Greek tragedy, a love letter to artistic pursuits, and a dissertation on the early days of Hollywood all rolled into one. It’s Chazelle’s most ambitious movie to date, with a story that spans decades, setpieces that rival superhero blockbusters, and roles that demand the most of its cast. While critically divisive, Babylon is the stunning product of a strong and singular vision and is worth viewing for that fact alone.

In what must have been an interesting challenge for the film’s stars, the characters of Babylon live large portions of their lives off-screen, until a fateful intersection calls for the eye of the camera. One of said onscreen collisions with a direct line to the ending of Babylon is between Brad Pitt’s Jack Conrad, a silent film star, and Jean Smart’s Elinor St. John, a journalist and culture reporter. Screen Rant can present a featurette on Conrad and St. John timed to Paramount Picture’s digital release of the film, which is part of over 40 minutes of behind-the-scenes interviews and special content that is available with a digital purchase.

Watch the featurette on Jack Conrad and Elinor St. John below:

The Real-Life Inspiration Behind Babylon and Its Characters

Perhaps the most intriguing fact about Babylon is that it is the result of over a decade of work and research by Damien Chazelle. Given that fact, it’s clear that the film was a passion project, with many of its characters reflecting real-life players in the film industry from the time period in which Babylon is set. The truth behind Babylon extends beyond its characters, with plenty of research going into the state of the industry and LA itself, but knowing that the film’s characters have real-world comparisons helps anchor the experience. Here’s what Chazelle had to say on the subject during his interview with Screen Rant:

It was an organic thing in the years of research, where certain people would just keep jumping out. I’d keep finding myself gravitating back to Clara Bow, for instance, or John Gilbert, or Anna May Wong, or Elinor Glyn. Those people became some of the linchpins.

While Chazelle went on to say that Babylon’s characters were composites and not necessarily direct reflections of their real-world counterparts, it’s easy to draw a line from British writer Elinor Glyn to Jean Smart’s Elinor St. John, or from silent film star John Gilbert to Brad Pitt’s Jack Conrad. In regards to the featurette above, it’s unclear if Elinor Glyn and John Gilbert had a relationship similar to the one between Elinor St. John and Jack Conrad in the aptly-named Babylon, but the artistic liberty taken by Chazelle with those characters helps land one of the movie’s biggest emotional punches.

Babylon is available now on digital platforms.