The Greats: DiCaprio, Lurhmann, Maguire and Jay-Z!

Leonardo DiCaprio at GATSBY premiere

Leonardo DiCaprio at GATSBY premiere

Leonardo DiCaprio (Catch Me If You Can, Titanic, Django: Unchained, J. Edgar), was born to be a matinee idol.  His dashing good looks, charm, intelligence and smooth sex appeal serve his new movie quite well: THE GREAT GATSBY, one of America’s beloved fabled, self-made millionaires of the roaring 20s.

The parties were lavish; the guests among the who’s who, and the booze flowed nonstop at a Gatsby gathering.

The film is based on the best-selling novel from celebrated author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. The 2013 version of the story, an impressive and revised heyday of sorts, sparkles on the big screen, in theaters, May 10 from Warner Bros Pictures.

Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter, executive producer

Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, executive producer

GATSBY is directed by the inimitable Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Australia) whose dazzle is embellished by a string of posh costars. Among them: Carey Mulligan (Public Enemies ) and Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man), albeit, the musical score perhaps has the brightest gloss—rap music maestro, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, enhances the soundtrack, undeniably, and serves as one of the film’s executive producers.

During a sunny Sunday morning press conference at Manhattan’s famed Plaza Hotel, cast gathered to promote the film —

Leonardo DiCaprio: I think everyone has some sort of connection to Gatsby; he is a character that has created himself according to his own imagination and dreams and lifted himself from his own bootstraps. As a poor youth in the Midwest, he created this image that is, The Great Gatsby, and it’s a truly American story in that regard.

Baz Luhrmann: The film’s party scenes were full of jazz and it was fun! I remember turning up a very lively track called NIV, which was a special Jay Z track, things took off and the cameras rolled.  There was a moment, and it’s in the film, where a very expensive lamp smashes right in the middle of the movie.  My first assistant was saying we’ve got to shut it down because it was crazy mayhem on levels you can’t even imagine, clothes coming off and feathers flying, just crazy. I remember I grabbed everyone and said, ‘get in the bedroom.’ The cameras kept rolling and that’s not an embellishment.DiCaprio: The Gatsby that I remember reading when I was 15 years old was far different than the Gatsby I read as an adult. What I remember from those earlier years was this hopeless romantic that was solely in love with one woman and created this great amount of wealth to be able to respectably hold her hand.  But to re-read it as an adult, it was incredibly fascinating. It is one of those novels still talked about nearly a hundred years later for a reason, it’s incredibly nuanced, it’s existential.

GATSBY's director Baz Luhrmann

GATSBY’s director Baz Luhrmann

I mean, at the center of this movie is a man that is incredibly hollow. He’s searching for some sort of meaning in his life and he’s attached himself to this relic, known as Daisy. She’s a mirage. I was struck by the sadness in him for the first time and I looked at him completely different. I looked at him as somebody that was searching for some sort of meaning.   Nick Carraway (Maguire) is the only one that truly sees what is going on, in reality, with this man that is desperately holding on to this image.One very telling sequence in the film for me was an important one in the book– Gatsby’s castle that he created to lure Daisy in.  Nick notices that he’s holding her yet he’s still staring out at the green light; he’s finally got her in his arms but he’s still searching for this thing that he thinks is going to complete him.

That was the Gatsby that I was incredibly excited about as an actor.  As I got older it took on a new meaning and I think that is what is so incredible about this novel. Everyone who reads it has their own interpretation of who these people are, who these characters are, and that’s what is very difficult about making a movie about it. Everyone has their own personal attachment to this book and they feel like they know these characters on a very intimate level.

Tobey Maguire as "Nick Carraway" in THE GREAT GATSBY

Tobey Maguire as “Nick Carraway” in THE GREAT GATSBY

Tobey McGuire: Leo and I have a very trusting and close friendship that made it comfortable as actors given the open dialogue that we had in terms of the working process on this film. Nick’s and Gatsby’s relationship is such an interesting one to explore; from my point of view, obviously, I’m looking through the eyes of Nick.  Gatsby inspires Nick to go off into his own future but ultimately that unfolded into a real friendship, perhaps Gatsby’s only friendship.  I definitely have an affection for Leo so it’s easy for me to have affection for Gatsby and Nick as well.

DiCaprio: For me, this is like American Shakespeare. This is one of the most celebrated novels of all time. To venture into a project of this magnitude took a core unit of trust for me to feel comfortable. To know that somebody I’ve known for 20 years (Maguire) and Baz Luhrman were involved in the process from the onset was incredibly comforting.

We’re always extremely honest with each other and, to me, I don’t know if this project would have happened unless we had that sort of relationship.  The film needed that; we needed those checks and balances.  We needed to have a contract with each other to continually be honest with one another.

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