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Jovan Adepo On What Connects Babylon To His Upcoming Sci-Fi Epic - Exclusive

The new movie "Babylon" is an epic, sweeping tale of the early days of Hollywood, set in the 1920s as Los Angeles turns from a small, sprawling farm town into a major American city, thanks in part to the growth of the film industry. The film also chronicles the transition of cinema from silent films to the sound era and documents how many of its creative personnel were unable to make that leap.

One of the characters caught up in that transformation is Sidney Palmer, a Black jazz trumpet player whom we first meet performing at hedonistic Hollywood parties. He leaves that gig behind and becomes — to his surprise — a screen star, thanks to the town's initial hunger for movie musicals to capitalize on the new age of talking motion pictures.

Sidney — a fictional character based on figures such as Louis Armstrong and Curtis Mosby — is played by Jovan Adepo, whose previous credits include the movie "Fences," as well as limited TV series "When They See Us," "Watchmen," and "The Stand." Following "Babylon," Adepo landed a role in "The Three-Body Problem," the upcoming Netflix limited series based on the best-selling sci-fi novel by Liu Cixin, a tale of human civilization threatened by alien contact that spans the past, present, and future.

The showrunners of "The Three-Body Problem" are David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, who created "Game of Thrones" for HBO and turned it into a worldwide phenomenon. While Jovan Adepo says in an exclusive interview with Looper that Benioff and Weiss are adapting Liu's hard sci-fi tome "in a way that people who are not familiar with physics or science are able to follow," he also sees a common link between that series and the more historically grounded drama of "Babylon."

Why Babylon and The Three-Body Problem have more in common than you think

"Babylon" takes place, as mentioned, during the 1920s in Hollywood, with many of its players inspired at least partially by real-life figures of the era. On the other hand, "The Three-Body Problem" — while set to some degree against the backdrop of China's Cultural Revolution — is a tale of astrophysics, conspiracy, and extraterrestrial contact populated by wholly fictional characters.

Yet even though the two couldn't be more different on the surface, Jovan Adepo tells Looper that they share one common element. "[Benioff and Weiss] are doing a great job [with 'The Three-Body Problem'] of trying to make sure that people can understand the size and scale of everything ..." he explains. "With all these projects, with 'Three-Body,' with 'Babylon,' it's about people, and that's what brings people [to] the seats. That's how you get them to care about the stories, because they care about the characters."

Benioff and Weiss certainly got millions of fans to invest in the characters on "Game of Thrones" for eight seasons, while "Babylon" writer-director Damien Chazelle has created indelible characters in previous films such as "Whiplash," "La La Land," and "First Man." Adepo says that this tradition continues with their latest projects.

"Benioff and Weiss did that with 'Three-Body,' and Damien did that with all the characters he introduces in 'Babylon,'" the actor says. "It's all about getting the audiences to understand the circumstances that all of the characters are going through and getting them to care about their journeys. That's the mission, and when ['The Three-Body Problem'] comes out sometime next year, I think they'll be able to do that effectively."

"Babylon" opens in theaters this Friday, December 23.