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Relatively unknown Mexican actor Diego Calva has nabbed a career-changing role: He will join Margot Robbie and Brad Pitt in Babylon, the drama set in the golden age of Hollywood that Damien Chazelle is directing for Paramount.
Rising actors Jovan Adepo and Li Jun Li will also be on the call sheet as part of the ensemble when cameras roll this summer in Los Angeles.
Paramount has set Babylon for a Dec. 25, 2022, limited release before a Jan. 6, 2023, wide opening.
The film, set in the late 1920s, during the movie industry’s transition from silent films to talkies, tells of the rise and fall of multiple characters. “Great Gatsby on steroids” is how one source described the story.
The script, being written by Chazelle, once featured historical characters — Robbie was originally to have played Clara Bow, the early sex symbol and box office star who was Hollywood’s first “It” girl — but has been reworked to be more fictional in nature. Robbie and Pitt are playing stars finding varying degrees of success with the transition.
In a role that is described as “critical,” Calva will play a Mexican man making his way up the Hollywood ladder, starting out as an assistant.
Calva is being hailed as a discovery because of his out-of-nowhere appearance. The not-quite 30-year-old is said to have beat out two more established names despite only a handful of credits in Mexican and South American productions to his name, although he recently snagged a part in the new season of Netflix’s Narcos: Mexico.
Sources say Robbie did several chemistry reads with Calva and when he became the choice, Chazelle mentored him to hone his skills.
During the process, the actor was scooped by WME for representation. Calva is additionally repped by Combot and attorney Matt Wallerstein.
Olivia Hamilton, Matt Plouffe and Marc Platt are producing the drama while Tobey Maguire, Helen Estabrook and Adam Siegel will executive produce.
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