Leonardo DiCaprio and Baz Luhrmann Two Decades Later at ‘The Great Gatsby’ Premiere

Mark Deming
Movie Talk
Leonardo DiCaprio
Leonardo DiCaprio

F. Scott Fitzgerald was a man who loved style, so it was fitting that some of Hollywood's biggest stars -- including Leonardo DiCaprio -- strolled down a cool black carpet for the world premiere of "The Great Gatsby," Baz Luhrmann's new adaptation of Fitzgerald's classic novel. And the occasion marks two decades since DiCaprio and Luhrmann first worked together on the 1996 adaptation, "Romeo + Juliet."

Some of the stars walking the black carpet on Wednesday may have missed the mark. (We know the '90s are back but what was Tobey Maguire's wife Jennifer Meyer doing in that busy baby doll dress? From the high-necked bright white collar to the scrunched capped sleeves to the sparkles to the flowers - it's a cluster of confusion.)

DiCaprio's on-screen love interest Carey Mulligan arrived in a pretty red dress (though her messy hairdo didn't escape our watchful style eyes!).

"Gatsby" stars Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton, and Amitabh Bachchan were all there, too. (Indian star Bachchan got an especially enthusiastic reception from a handful of Bollywood fans in attendance). Jay-Z, who coordinated the film's soundtrack, was on hand, but his wife Beyonce (who sings on the film's soundtrack) was not. However, fans did get a look at guests Florence Welch (the vocalist with Florence and the Machine) and Michelle Williams, among others.

DiCaprio, wearing a classic but subdued grey suit and a neatly trimmed beard, spoke to reporters about what drew him to the project. "I met Baz [Luhrmann] two decades ago, when I was eighteen years old and he had this insane notion of doing 'Romeo & Juliet' in a sort of hyper-universe," he said. "I thought he was crazy, but he is a ground-breaking filmmaker who is not afraid to take on some of the most classic, complex, beloved material of all time. Seeing him twenty years later, he hasn't changed in that regard. 'Gatsby' is the seminal American novel, it sort of defines America in the 1920s, it kind of predicted the stock market crash that soon came after, and as the center figure is this very complex, mysterious, existential character known as Jay Gatsby. As much as Baz wants to recreate these worlds and sort of give it a modern context, he's always vigilant about sticking to what made that novel great. And that was the most important thing to me and I think he pulled it off with flying colors in this movie."

DiCaprio also spoke about his character and why he resonates with so many people. "I think we can all really identify with this dreamer, somebody that in a new America was able to envision his life a certain way and manifest that," he said. "I think everyone has a little Gatsby in them, everyone dreams when they’re young, and that's what people identify with, as far as this character's concerned."

Luhrmann was accompanied by his wife, production designer Catherine Martin, and lavished just as much praise on his leading man. "I never thought of anyone else [to play Jay Gatsby]," Luhrmann said. "I worked with Leonardo when he was twenty as a boy, he's remained a friend, his family are friends of mine. And we were always looking to work together again, but we were nervous about it, because we'd become such good friends. But really when you're talking about that character, with those qualities, there's not much of a list. It was always Leonardo."

Luhrmann also spoke about integrating contemporary music with a story set in the 1920s. "That book is us," Luhrmann said. "That book reflects who we are, where we are now. It's always relevant, but it's particularly relevant now. I just wanted to find a way of doing it as if Fitzgerald was making a movie. He put African-American jazz in the book, and I wanted it to feel as exciting as when you put jazz in. So the other Jay [Jay-Z] helped me blend jazz and hip-hop."

And Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy, the woman Gatsby could not forget. Mulligan weighed in on the artistry of the costumes designed for the film, and said she hoped they might influence men's fashions today. " I wish the boys still dressed the way they did back in the '20s," Mulligan said. "Really spiffy suits, three-piece suits and canes and straw hats. I say yes to that."

Note to guys reading this article: Before you see your tailor for a snappy three-piece, keep in mind Carey is married.

Meriah Doty contributed to this report.