Midday on the Monday before Thanksgiving, Jean Smart is lounging in bed and talking about sex. More specifically, she’s talking about sex with Brad Pitt. Even more specifically than that, she’s talking about having sex with Brad Pitt on the set of Babylon (out Dec. 23), Damien Chazelle’s outrageous take on the apparently even more outrageous early years of Hollywood, a film whose outrageous cast includes not only Smart as the ur-Hollywood gossip columnist and Pitt as an aging star but also Margot Robbie, Olivia Wilde, Diego Calva, Max Minghella, Tobey Maguire, and an animatronic elephant. To be clear, the “big sex scene,” as Smart calls it, with Pitt never actually happens. But like her character, Smart isn’t one to let facts get in the way of a good sell. “Get people titillated! Get them out to the theaters!” she says with a laugh. Then, she turns on a dime. “Like, ’Ew, no. Ew. I don’t want to see that.’”
Let’s go back to Babylon. You have a scene with Brad Pitt that sums up the agony and the ecstasy of being a movie star, where you give a devastating monologue about the fleeting nature of fame.
Are you talking about our big sex scene?
[Laughs.] Yeah, that one. [Ed note: There is no such sex scene.]
Yeah, get people titillated! Get them out to the theaters! Like, “Ew, no. Ew, I don’t want to see that.”