Australian director Baz Luhrmann is as well known for the music he uses to enhance his films as he is for the actual films. This is because the director expertly mixes sound with each individual scene to produce a rich effect. Imagine the surprise of his fans when he announced his next project as a film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel “The Great Gatsby,” a book set in an era of jazz music. Excitement built steadily for the project and reached a crescendo when cast announcements started coming out. The film has an exciting mix of Oscar nominees, former movie superheroes, and indie film darlings that is sure to draw not a small crowd.
DiCaprio is playing the titular role of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire who lives in the Long Island suburb of West Egg. He has an extravagant house and throws lavish parties that only the elite of the area get to attend, but he may have a hidden side that is quite different from his public persona. DiCaprio was the very first person cast, and one of the few actors who didn’t have to go through a long, arduous auditioning process. The former teen heartthrob is fresh off his turn in Quentin Tarantino’s controversial film “Django Unchained” and will next be seen in “The Wolf of Wall Street, where he will be re-teamed with his “The Departed” director Martin Scorsese.
After the announcement of DiCaprio’s casting, the other main male part, that of Nick Carraway, went to Maguire, who has been relatively quiet since finishing up his title role in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy. Since “Spider-Man 3” came out in 2007, he has done only three films before agreeing to do “The Great Gatsby.” His character Nick is a fledgling stock broker who moves into a tiny house in West Egg, where his neighbor happens to be none other than Jay Gatsby. Nick also serves as the narrator of the story, giving the audience background and insight into the characters and their actions, making it a very important role.
In early November 2010, Luhrmann still hadn’t cast the pivotal role of Daisy Buchanan, the cousin of Nick and former lover of Gatsby. She is now married to a rich man whom she doesn’t seem to love while trying to rekindle her torrid love affair with Gatsby. Initially, many actresses auditioned for the part, including Keira Knightly, Michelle Williams, and Amanda Seyfried. It wasn’t until Mulligan flew into New York from her native England to audition that Luhrmann was sure he had found his Daisy in the indie movie star. After being nominated for an Oscar, Mulligan started to see her career rising rapidly, which makes the cast of “The Great Gatsby” even more star-studded.
Like Mulligan, Edgerton had to beat out several other big-name actors in order to secure the part of Tom Buchanan, Daisy’s wealthy husband who is highly suspicious of Gatsby. Initially, Ben Affleck was slated to play the part, but he had already committed to “Argo,” which he starred in and directed. When a scheduling conflict made filming both impossible, he gave up the plum role of Tom rather than abandon “Argo.” Bradley Cooper was rumored to be in contention for the role, which ultimately went instead to Australian actor Joel Edgerton, who was rising to popularity on both sides of the Pacific at the time. By all accounts, he is an affable fellow, which means he will have to do some serious acting to portray the callous Tom, who cheats on his wife, bullies people every chance he gets, and hates minorities and most women.
Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke
Fisher and Clark were cast soon after Edgerton and Mulligan as Myrtle and George Wilson, a poor married couple who run an auto shop on the sketchy outskirts of New York City. George loves his wife, but Myrtle is so keen on improving her lot in life that she agrees to an illicit affair with Tom because she thinks it will help her climb the social ladder. Previously, Fisher had been best known for her roles in comedies like “Bachelorette” and “Confessions of a Shopaholic,” so “The Great Gatsby” is her chance to show her dramatic acting skills. Clarke is an Australian who has gained notice stateside by appearing in the critically acclaimed series “The Chicago Code” as well as in the film “Zero Dark Thirty.” He continues to get American parts because of his mastery of the accent, though he still does films like “Swerve” back in his native Australia.