We chat with the stars about working with Baz Luhrmann, adapting a classic novel and working together.
Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton and Carey Mulligan and Leonardo DiCaprio talk about filming The Great Gatsby
Carey Mulligan (Daisy Buchanan)
How would you describe Daisy?
Daisy is kind of a tricky character because she contradicts herself constantly, but she's also not very consistently laid out. She's eccentric but seems to feel things passionately, but not necessarily for very long. And she disappears for chunks of the novel, so you have to build a steady line. So I went basically to look at Zelda Fitzgerald and Ginevra King, who were the two influences for Daisy.
What's it like being on a Baz Luhrmann set?
Being on his set is nothing like anything I've done before. The scale of it is huge in comparison with all the film's I've done. There's a spirit of adventure and when he wants it to be, it can get frenzied. The party scenes that he directs, he directs through a megaphone. And he speaks personally to all of the dancers and the extras. So the parties look so wild because he's the one who is riling them up.
DiCaprio and Maguire are old friends. Could you tell?
Yeah, they're like best buddies - it was really cute! They have such a long history, so they have a very easy way of talking to each other. They were very straight with each other and they had a really good dialogue. And they both loved the book and were fascinated by the characters and so it led to lots of really long conversations between all of us. JM
Joel Edgerton (Tom Buchanan)
What made you want to make The Great Gatsby?
Ah, look, for all sorts of reasons. I got to go back home [to Sydney]. But beyond that, I think Baz is a really great fit [to direct it], when you look at Moulin Rouge! and Romeo + Juliet and what he can do visually. And he's assembled a great gang of people to play these characters - Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan and Isla Fisher. I'm really privileged to be a part of that. And I'll be in 3-D. So watch out - it's coming right at you!
How would you describe Luhrmann as a director?
In a country such as this [Australia], where there is a "tall poppy syndrome" that exists, Baz is unafraid of sticking his head out the window as he's driving a million miles an hour. He's willing to parade. He really is.
What are the challenges of making Fitzgerald's classic?
You've got to be careful - that you don't get spun off on the fact that it's such a great book therefore it equals a great movie. The characters in the story are interesting but I think the real key to that book is, in large part, due to the descriptive language. So you need a director who is going to be able to find a visual poetry that's going to match Fitzgerald's descriptive language. JM
Isla Fisher (Myrtle Wilson)
How did you find working on The Great Gatsby?
Oh, it was just so surreal and fun. Everything from the costumes to working with Baz Luhrmann in Sydney ... it was a dream come true.
Were you a big Baz fan?
I remember the moment I saw Romeo + Juliet, thinking he was my dream director. I've only ever had a shortlist of people I've wanted to work with, and he was at the top of it. I feel like I ticked that box and just feel so happy to have had that experience. I honestly couldn't stop smiling the whole time. They'd say "action" and I'd have to remind myself to go into the moment because I was so pleased.
Did you grow up in Australia watching his movies?
Actually, I didn't grow up watching many movies. My parents didn't really take me to the cinema. I think I only watched two movies as a kid - one was The Dark Crystal and the other was ET. I was mainly outside, digging holes in the garden and climbing trees. JM
Leonardo DiCaprio (Jay Gatsby)
On the source, F Scott Fitzgerald’s book
Everyone who reads this book has their own interpretations of these characters. Part of what made Fitzgerald’s writing so great is it’s very voyeuristic. You feel like you’re privy to conversations that you shouldn’t be privy to. When you translate that to film, you have to be much more specific.
On his character, Jay Gatsby
I think everyone has some sort of connection to Gatsby. He is a character that has created himself according to his own imagination and dreams and has lifted himself from his own bootstraps as a poor youth in the Midwest and created this image that is the great Gatsby. It’s a truly American story in that regard.
On his 25-year friendship with co-star Tobey Maguire
We both came from similar upbringings. We had humble beginnings, let’s put it that way. We both were these young, very enthusiastic, ambitious young men that really wanted to get our foot in the door. Every project we do, we talk about. Every single choice I’ve made, I’ve talked to Tobey about and vice versa. We’ve had endless conversations about certain projects and argued with one another. I can’t tell you how many countless times on set we would do a scene and come up to one another and say: “What’s your take on that? What was I doing, do you think?” AP, AFP
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