GREAT GATSBY WEEK: DAY THREE
Filling the shoes of the characters in one of the greatest American novels of all time seems like it'd be a huge task not many would want to take. However, actors and actresses were beside themselves vying for the coveted roles once they found out Baz Luhrmann was adapting F. Scott Fitzgerald's beloved The Great Gatsby.
For Jay Gatsby, the story's protagonist, Luhrmann had only one actor in mind: Leonardo DiCaprio. The Oscar-nominated star of huge Hollywood films like Titanic, The Departed, and Luhrmann's own Romeo + Juliet is the perfect caliber of performer to capture the complexities of such a character. He told the Hollywood Reporter that the book is "intrinsically woven into the fabric of what America is." With such a revered and studied story to hold, DiCaprio had his work cut out for him. This isn't his first foray into carrying a film or a well-known character on his shoulders. He's played real life people like J. Edgar Hoover, Frank Abagnale, and Howard Hughes; plus, the aforementioned movies saw him play some of the most memorable characters in modern cinema. Though DiCaprio has yet to win an Academy Award, his day should come soon. He's easily the best working actor of this generation. Hopefully his abilities will be just what is needed to fill a role like that of Jay Gatsby.
Once the Gatsby was found, Luhrmann had to find his counterpart, the innocent Nick Carraway. When looking for someone to counter DiCaprio, it wasn't too hard to figure who was best to fill those shoes. DiCaprio's best friend, Tobey Maguire, has been somewhat quiet since making a name for himself. Maguire rose to fame as a teen in some great modern classics, like Pleasnatville and The Cider House Rules. It wasn't until his turn as the title character in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy that Maguire became a household name. For The Great Gatsby, Maguire was the cast member with the least resistance, saying he was rather excited about bringing the story to life, instead of fearful that he wouldn't do the character justice. As the story's narrator, that's the kind of self-driven determination that Carraway needs.
Easily one of the most loved, and frequently misunderstood, characters of the book is that of the young, dainty Daisy Buchanan. A newlyed, Daisy is confused about where she's at in life. She's stuck in that strange world we all eventually find ourselves in at some point where life seems settled, but you're not sure if you're happy where you're at. For this troubled soul, Luhrmann considered many of Hollywood's young starlets. The list is full of easily recognizable names, including: Amanda Seyfried, Rebecca Hall, Rachel McAdams, Blake Lively, Michelle Williams, Natalie Portman, Anne Hathaway, Olivia Wilde, and that's just to name a few. It was Oscar-nominee Carey Mulligan that ended up having the spark Luhrmann was looking for. In countless interviews DiCaprio has stated how perfect the chemistry was when Mulligan read during auditions. She was meant to play the role of the delicate Daisy. Mulligan has had a quiet, but impressive, career thus far. Her Oscar-nominated turn in An Education was undeniably brilliant. In Shame, she was robbed of an Oscar nomination after producing one of the best pieces of cinema in 2011. Here, her soft features and petite voice fill the high end flapper fashions of Daisy like no other. The chemistry between her and DiCaprio will be worth every second of the film.
The rest of cast is full of impressive names and talents, as well. Joel Edgerton has been building quite a following lately for his turn in high caliber films, such as Zero Dark Thirty and Warrior. He plays Daisy's abusive husband Tom and his fierce eyes and raw acting talent will most likely you hate his character more than needed, in a good way. Replacing Ben Affleck, who had to drop out of the film, Edgerton has just as much talent and looks needed for the rich socialite with anger issues. The Wilson's are important members of the cast, as well. Isla Fisher fills in for Myrtle, Tom's "other" woman. Fisher is known already for roles in Wedding Crashers and Confessions of a Shopaholic. Her comedic timing and natural ability to be the comedic sidekick make this a perfect turn for her. Jason Clarke plays Myrtle's husband, George, who doesn't seem too important at the beginning of the novel, but plays a pivotal role during the third act. Clarke is one to watch as each role he dives into shows more and more of his talent. He's seemingly come out of nowhere lately, stealing scenes in Lawless and Zero Dark Thirty last year.
With a stellar cast and an incredible legacy in their possession, the film seems to be in good hands. The Great Gatsby opens in theaters Friday, May 10.