Leonardo DiCaprio Interview For ‘The Great Gatsby’
‘The Great Gatsby’ follows F. Scott Fitzgerald-like, would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, in the midst of the roaring twenties, glittering jazz and bootleg kings. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy, and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan. It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, he tells a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.
Baz Luhrmann directs the ‘The Great Gatsby’ from a screenplay co-written with frequent collaborator Craig Pearce, based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel of the same name. Lead by Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, ‘The Great Gatsby’ also stars Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway, Joel Edgerton and Carey Mulligan as Tom and Daisy Buchanan, Isla Fisher and Jason Clarke as Myrtle and George Wilson, newcomer Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker, and Indian film legend Amitabh Bachchan as Meyer Wolfsheim. ‘The Great Gatsby’ arrives in cinemas on May 10th in the US and Canada, with an international rollout on May 15th (May 16th in the UK). Look out for a more in-depth interview with Leonardo DiCaprio for the film in May.
What was it about Jay Gatsby that particularly intrigued you when you were first approached to play him? He’s a character, an iconic
character, who still garners much debate and discussion….
Leonardo DiCaprio: Yeah, definitely! Jay Gatsby is an incredible character to play because I think everyone has their own
interpretation of who Gatsby is, what his motivations are. And a lot of what makes Jay Gatsby so interesting is what is left unsaid
in the novel and what is left unsaid about Jay Gatsby. He’s young man who came from humble beginnings and sort of recreated himself
according to his own imagination – for the love of a woman. And this woman he loves belongs to a different class structure to him.
On the surface, I think he’s pretty much the manifestation of the “American Dream” of imagining who you can become in a place and a
time like America in the 1920s.
He’s a man who’s obsessive, to say the least. After revisiting the book, what jumped out at you about him?
Leonardo DiCaprio: Time and time again you pick up on these little inklings of what F. Scott Fitzgerald was trying to say about Jay
Gatsby. When I first read it, I thought, “Here’s this hopeless romantic who’s truly in love.” There’s a key moment in the book where
he’s finally got Daisy in his arms, there is that green light that has now manifested into something physical – he has her there.
But he’s still staring out at the green light, he’s still searching for something and that void isn’t necessarily filled. He’s not
present with her. The list of dreams has declined by one, and is it good enough? Is she good enough? Is she going to be the ultimate
perception of what he thought she was in his own imagination?
Do you remember when you first knew Carey Mulligan would be playing Daisy Buchanan?
Leonardo DiCaprio: Casting the film, as soon as Carey Mulligan came in the room we kind of knew when she sat down that she was able
to encapsulate all the things that are Daisy Buchanan. And then as soon as we read with her and done some of the scenes with her she
was able to portray that sophistication in each of the lines that she read. Then as soon as she left the room, I don’t know if Baz
and I said, “That’s the person for the job,” but we both kind of looked at each other and we knew (laughs). We knew we found our
On the surface, ‘The Great Gatsby’ may seem like an unusual choice for a 3D movie. What do you think that technology brings to the
Leonardo DiCaprio: The whole idea of 3D was very interesting to me, you know? The fact that Baz wanted to almost make it like a
theater production. We’ve seen 3D done in a lot of ways, and seen it for all of its spectacle and fantastic action sequences, but
to use it in a dramatic context, it’s very interesting. Because then it does become like theater, then you actually feel the
distance between characters. You feel the intensity that characters will have with one another – especially in the sort of Plaza
sequence near the end. 3D is used very brilliantly in that sequence to understand the heat and how close these people were in the
room, and the issue that needed to be brought up, the sort of way in which Jay was trying to be gentlemen about the situation, but
the fire that was sort of brewing beneath him. The 3D, just from a dramatic perspective, is used quite brilliantly. That was a whole
other exciting element of doing this film.
And aside from the 3D, there’s some modern elements with the look of the film and the music. It’s story set in 1922, with themes
that seem especially relevant in this day and age…..
Leonardo DiCaprio: Definitely. There’s the idea of infusing elements of hip-hop, there’s the idea of giving the 1920s that sort of
modernism that isn’t going to separate you from being in that time period, but makes you understand the sort of cultural references
and what it would be like if these people were alive today, you know? The cars are a little bit faster and a little bit louder, the
costumes are just a little bit more outlandish and everything’s just a little bit more extravagant to make you understand how
enormously wealthy these people were (laughs), and how outrageous their lifestyle was. Baz certainly focused on that.