Director Baz Luhrmann jazzes up F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic Jazz Age novel as "The Great Gatsby" dances into theaters this weekend. We all know Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Carey Mulligan will do their darndest to bring "old sport" back to the popular lexicon, but here are five facts about the film you might not know, but definitely should.
Ain't No Party Like a Baz Party
1. The party scenes portrayed in the film weren't just wild onscreen. To get his party started right, Luhrmann did what you might suspect, he turned up the tunes. "So we got all the props for the scene and I told the cast 'Let’s go for it!' We started with jazz music, there was some pillow fighting and then very loudly I turned on Jay –Z's 'N.I.P.' And things took off. There’s a moment you can see in the movie, where a very expensive lamp gets smashed. My assistant director thought I should shut it down because it was total mayhem -- there were clothes coming off. I told everyone to get in the bedroom and brought a camera inside. That's how it came to be known as the orgy scene," Luhrmann told The Urban Daily.
2. Out of all the main stars -- DiCaprio, Maguire, and Mulligan -- Leo is the only one who read the book in school. In our interview with the cast, shown above, Mulligan admitted she read it very quickly for the first time right before her audition, but that's understandable, we suppose, since she's British and "Gatsby" isn't standard curriculum reading across the pond. But Maguire fails our English class, as he managed to let what many consider to be THE great American novel slip under his radar until Luhrmann and DiCaprio approached him for the project.
So Bad It's Gone
3. Since the book is so packed with nuance and subtlety, it's proven to be a difficult cinematic adaption. This is the fourth such attempt, and the previous three haven't exactly become the great American movie. However, only the 1926 version has the distinction of having Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda walk out of it. "We saw 'The Great Gatsby' in the movies. It's ROTTEN and awful and terrible and we left," wrote Zelda in a letter to the couple's daughter, Scottie. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately), we can't judge for ourselves, as only the trailer above remains of the film.
4. Luhrmann wasn't afraid to veer from the novel, in fact, on the very first day of shooting, he allowed his two main men to improvise. Because of DiCaprio and Maguire's 25-year relationship, letting them adlib felt more honest to the director than relying on Fitzgerald's actual text. In a recent press conference, Luhrmann described a scene between the two where Gatsby prepares his home for Daisy's arrival: "That moment I think is one of the purest and most connected moments in the film and it completely came from, I think, a depth of relationship that existed before we began rehearsals. And it was funny because it was the first thing we ever shot and for me, it's one of the most truthful and wonderful moments in the film. From a director's point of view, there was a grand value in the depth of their friendship."
Sealed with a Kiss
5. DiCaprio plays the titular Jay Gatsby, a wealthy bootlegger of questionable provenance who carries an eternal flame for blue-blooded Daisy Buchannon (Mulligan). According to Luhrmann, DiCaprio sat in on every single audition for Daisy -- reportedly with plenty of big name actresses, including Blake Lively, Natalie Portman, and Michelle Williams. So how did Mulligan win out? Apparently she's a darn good kisser. At the director's urging, Mulligan ended her and DiCaprio's audition scene with a smooch so powerful it sealed the deal. "She went out the door and I was just thinking, 'My God, that is Daisy Buchanan. I wonder what [DiCaprio] thinks," Luhrmann told The Hollywood Reporter. "[DiCaprio] said, 'The way Carey manifests Daisy is like something Gatsby would never have met in his lifetime, something so delicate that he would want to protect her to an obsessive and almost impossible level.' And then it was done."
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