Baz Luhrmann’s latest film, “The Great Gatsby,” is a retelling of the classic F. Scott Fitzgerald tale of power, infidelity, and love. While the story of doomed love clearly stands on its own, here are five fun facts about the film that audiences might have missed.
5. Sydney, Australia and Five Soundstages Helped Re-create Twenties New York
“Gatsby” is an American book, and director Baz Luhrmann had initially decided to film the movie in New York City starting in June 2011. However, changes in the production schedule led Luhrmann to decide to move filming to his native country Australia. While audiences will see some of the Australian landscape substituted for twenties New York and Long Island, soundstages and computer animation ultimately helped create a setting accurate for the period. The $126 million film also reportedly qualified for financial incentives from the Australian government for moving production Down Under.
4. Fans Spotted a Spelling Blunder in the First Trailer
In May 2012, the first trailer for “The Great Gatsby” was released to excited movie buffs. While the overall response to the trailer was positive, eagle-eyed fans quickly went to Twitter to complain about a blatant spelling error. As the camera pans over the re-created Times Square, a billboard advertises the “Zeigfeld Follies.” Fans of the Broadway revue quickly noticed that the sign should read “Ziegfeld Follies.” Despite this small hiccup, many critics praised the trailer, which juxtaposed historically accurate twenties costuming and scenery with contemporary songs sung by popular musicians. Due to the magic of computer animation, audiences shouldn’t expect to see this spelling error in the completed film.
3. Weather Postponed the Film’s Release Date
When news first broke that “The Great Gatsby” would not be in theaters on its original Christmas 2012 release date, fans were concerned. Usually, shifting the release date for a film indicates that the studio is less optimistic about its critical audience reception. However, Luhrmann clarified in a recent interview that La Niña was to blame for the new May 2013 release date. The shooting schedule had to be altered because Sydney, Australia, had some of the wettest weather on record during filming. Luhrmann stopped filming “Gatsby” due to the rain and resumed filming the following year to give the weather a chance to change. However, Jay-Z fans should know that Luhrmann credits the delay with giving him a chance to add the hip-hop star’s music to the film.
Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy Buchanan in the film, also noted that Luhrmann had incredible energy that fueled him during the many shoots and reshoots. She speculated that an accident with a crane, which caused a gash on Luhrmann’s head, was the only reason the acclaimed director stopped filming.
2. Keira Knightley, Blake Lively, and Other A-List Talent Auditioned to be Daisy
Fans of “The Great Gatsby” book probably have their own ideas for the best actress to play Daisy, but Luhrmann approached casting with an open mind and saw several actresses before choosing Mulligan. Natalie Portman, Keira Knightley, Blake Lively, Michelle Williams, and Scarlett Johansson were all rumored to have auditioned for the part. However, it was Mulligan who won the hearts of the director and lead actor, Leonardo DiCaprio. Luhrmann described the difficulty in casting Daisy’s part to that of casting Scarlet O’Hara in “Gone with the Wind.” He says that he understands everyone would have a different preference when casting the part. Luhrmann also noted that like Scarlet, he believes that Daisy would have been an enchanting star since the day she was born.
1. A Siberian Train Trip Inspired Luhrmann to Make “Gatsby”
While most people are familiar with the basic plot of the Fitzgerald classic, Luhrmann didn’t notice the potential for “Gatsby” to become a film until 2001. He had finished filming “Moulin Rouge!” and was riding a train to meet through Northern Russia to meet his family in Paris. He had brought an audio book of “The Great Gatsby” and recalled opening a bottle of wine to enjoy the story. As he watched Siberia roll past his window, Luhrmann found himself becoming engrossed in the story. He admits that he didn’t go to sleep until four that morning and eagerly finished the book the next evening. Luhrmann realized that he hadn’t fully appreciated the work until that evening on the train. He admired Fitzgerald’s concise storytelling and thought that Gatsby’s story had great potential as a film. Over ten years after that long train ride, audiences will finally get to decide if Luhrmann is the director to fully realize the potential of Fitzgerald’s literary masterpiece.