‘Babylon’: The Real-Life Figures Who Inspired the Movie
None of the key characters in Damien Chazelle’s early Hollywood drama Babylon are historical figures. Jack Conrad, played by Brad Pitt, did not dominate 1920s Los Angeles with his charm and good looks. Nellie LaRoy, played by Margot Robbie, didn’t scandalize the silent film world with her “Wild Child” persona. And neither one interacted with an ambitious young studio executive named Manny Torres (Diego Calva), who overcame enormous obstacles to become one of the most powerful men in the industry.
But to various extents, every character and sequence in the film is based on real historical events. The war film that’s being shot in a crucial early scene, for example, appears to be inspired by Intolerance, D.W. Griffith’s landmark silent epic — although in Babylon it’s being directed by a German filmmaker who seems to vaguely resemble Erik von Stroheim. And the fictional leads occasionally interact with real people — like MGM mogul Irving Thalberg, who’s played in Babylon by actor Max Minghella.
Here are all the key fictional players from the movie Babylon, along with the person (or people) who helped shaped their fictional lives and backstories according to press notes, and interviews with Chazelle and the cast.