Casting “The Great Gatsby”

I haven’t had a chance to discuss this yet, but apparently Baz Luhrmann’s next project is a shot at “The Great Gatsby,” one of the greatest American novels and one that is still missing a satisfactory film adaptation. The 1974 version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow just felt so meh – a little too glossy, too shallow. I never really felt like it plunged the emotional depths present in Fitzgerald’s work (his style may very well be un-filmable). Considering the level of emotional complexity generally on display in Baz Luhrmann films, I can’t say I’m thrilled that he’s the next choice to take a crack at “Gatsby;” but hey, at least we know the party scenes will be suitably lavish.

Luhrmann’s casting choices for the three main roles have now been revealed, however, and they are rather intriguing. Tobey Maguire will play Nick Carraway, which I can’t really see myself, but after Maguire’s eye-opening performance in “Brothers” last year, it may turn out that his “Spider-Man” days really were oppressing his true talents. The tricky role of Gatsby himself falls to Leonardo DiCaprio, unsurprisingly given his previous collaboration with Luhrmann. This I think could work; earlier in the 2000’s I would’ve said you were nuts, that DiCaprio could pull off the pretty boy aspects of Gatsby but would have none of his suppressed menace – but recently his work in “The Departed” and especially “Revolutionary Road” make me think that he could pull the role off quite well. He certainly has an edge now that I don’t think Robert Redford ever did.

And then there’s Daisy. How the hell do you decide who to cast in this role? It has to be someone that makes you believe how Gatsby could turn her into the dream girl, the perfect woman; but then she also has to be human, to prevent the audience from falling into the same trap. Mia Farrow performed the task admirably in the older version (indeed, she was one of the better parts of that film), though I always thought she made Daisy a little too frail for my taste. Who did Luhrmann pick for this go-around? Carey Mulligan.

First reaction: huh? Isn’t she significantly younger than DiCaprio? How do you make that work? But, with an assist from this still, which Luhrmann apparently took himself at the first workshops for the film that took place this week, I’m starting to come around to the idea:

Hmmmm. I’m liking the glamor, the aloof but independent look. This could be a real opportunity for Mulligan to show why she’s one of our most promising young actresses by playing totally against her “An Education” type. The movie will start filming early next year, no word yet on a release date. I’m still not sold on the project, but Mulligan’s involvement means that I’m going to at least keep a close eye on any further developments.

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3 Comments

Filed under Blatherings, Film News

3 responses to “Casting “The Great Gatsby”

  1. Elaine

    I am SO disturbed and SO excited at the same time. Baz Luhrmann, you redeemed yourself from “Romeo + Juliet” with “Moulin Rouge.” If you ruin “The Great Gatsby,” please, please, please go die. For all our sakes.

    However, the casting sounds really, really promising! I actually think Tobey Maguire, as long as they get him physically looking like he could belong in the 1920’s, which for some reason I just can’t imagine, would be a good fit at Nick. Slightly jaded and disaffected in his own right, he still retains a bit of that wide-eyed innocence that would make Gatsby’s story so tragic for him, and thus through him, for us. Leo is not my mental image of Gatsby (which, to be fair, is really specific as I adore the man), but I think he’d do a good job.

    And then we have: CAREY MULLIGAN!!! SO excited! I would have NEVER imagined her as Daisy in my life, but now I am SO excited, and your photo just made me burst. There’s something so glamorous and beautiful about her, and yet so cold and cruel in that one gaze. A chill beauty that tempts and enraptures Gatsby, but very much one that is on a pedestal, unreachable and unreal, a woman who is better as a goddess, but is in herself cruel and shallow.

    My two cents. KEEP US POSTED. And by us, I mean me.

  2. Phil

    I was/am WAY excited about carey mulligan. maybe it’s the fact that i have loved her since before she blew up (bleak house, the seagull onstage, and that hella creepy doctor who episode with the statues [also let me note that i still haven’t even seen an education or never let me go so i am pretty much solely in love with her pre-fame self]). but in any case, i think she’s a great choice. and waaay better than portman (also love but totally wrong), lively (ick), johansson (vomit everywhere), or any of the other supposed contenders.

    also, i am praying baz casts leighton meester as jordan. i no longer watch gossip girl because it got too ridiculous even for me, but that girl has more acting chops than the rest of the cast put together. she needs a really good role, ASAP, and jordan is right up her alley.

    final note, i am still 75% sure this movie will be a travesty.

  3. Yeah, I didn’t even post the other actresses that were considered for Daisy because the list made me gag. I was so terrified that Johansson was going to get it. What exactly was supposed to be her qualification for the role besides being blonde? Also, Keira Knightley was supposedly in the running? WHY?!?! In what universe would anyone think Keira Knightley could play Daisy Buchanan?

    The only other person on the short list I wouldn’t have minded was Michelle Williams. I could see her pulling it off. In any case, I’ll be intrigued to see Williams as Marilyn Monroe in “My Week with Marilyn” next year.

    And Elaine, “redemption” is a very strong word for the uptick in quality between “Romeo + Juliet” and “Moulin Rouge.” And I really don’t know if that had anything to do with Luhrmann beyond some smarter casting decisions (i.e., “let’s wait until Leonardo DiCaprio actually develops some acting skills before I cast him again). So I’m going to one-up Phil and say I’m still 90% sure this film will be a travesty. But, in the 10% chance that it doesn’t…it could prove interesting.

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