Carey Mulligan 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 Carey Mulligan for the film in May.
How did you find it working with Baz Luhrmann? He’s a filmmaker known for his lush, spectacular style….
Carey Mulligan: I love working with Baz, I love the pace of it. I remember even in the first audition for ‘The Great Gatsby’ I auditioned with Leonardo DiCaprio and there was three or four cameras in the room, there was a person taking stills, there was a person on a handheld camera, there was a 3D camera…. I was being shot from every angle. We did the scene with the beautiful shirts, and we did it over and over and over again. We’d get halfway through and he’d cut and we’d go back to the beginning. And he was so excited and he had so much energy (laughs). I love that, I love the movement and the confidence I got from him kind of enjoying what was going on. It’s so infectious.
The sets and costumes look so extravagant and detailed. I can imagine that helps when you’re acting?
Carey Mulligan: Definitely. I’ve never worked on a film that has had such scale, but also such intricate detail in the design of it. Every costume and every set I walked onto, and every time I put on a pair of Daisy’s shoes or I wore some of the Tiffany jewelry we have in the film…. for example, the engagement ring that Daisy has is just this enormous diamond, and every time I put it on I feel so different, so…Daisy (laughs).
My favorite set was the Buchanan house, and as you walked down the hallway – they called it a Hallway of Champions – there are hundreds of portraits and pictures of Tom Buchanan standing in his polo gear. They go from the floor to the ceiling and every single one of them has the intricate print written on it about his sporting achievements. You get sucked in to the world so easily; it sort of does half the work for you. The spectacle of things was so overwhelming. Every time I went onto a new set I had to explore it (laughs).
And how was it shooting the scene in The Plaza Hotel, where five of the key characters play out one of the most dramatic scenes in the story?
Carey Mulligan: We had a really incredible time, as a cast, the five of us, when we shot the Plaza suite scene – it was so contained. I’ve never experienced anything like that. For days we shot conventional coverage of all of us in the scene, quite a long scene, quite a sort of ‘dance’ of a scene. Then, right at the end, Baz took all the cameras outside all of the windows of the suite. So, there was no crew, there were no lights inside, you couldn’t see any technical equipment. It was like performing on stage, but with no audience. You really felt like you were alone, but for just the five of us. It was sort of one of the most extraordinary experiences that I’ve had working, let alone on this film. We loved doing it, and we were just surrounded by that world. We couldn’t see any hints of present day.
How did you approach playing Daisy Buchanan?
Carey Mulligan: For me, the main thing about Daisy is her duality. She wants to be protected and safe and live in a certain way. But, at the same time, she wants epic romance. She’s just swayed by whatever is the strongest and most appealing thing. She’s not a grounded person or a genuine person, in a way. When we first meet Daisy, she is at a somewhat melancholic juncture in her life. I think that when Daisy says something, she really means it, but five minutes later she might not mean it at all. She’s almost living in a movie in her own life, looking in on herself, which makes for a rather thin personality that was probably typical of women in her circumstances, and interesting for me to play.
And how was it working opposite Leonardo DiCaprio considering Daisy and Jay’s dynamic?
Carey Mulligan: Leo’s just the most committed actor in terms of looking after everyone else on set and making sure you’re giving the best performance. He doesn’t walk away when he’s finished. When I’ve got parts of the scene yet to finish he’s still there, he’s still so present and so supportive. Also, I remember the first audition that I had. We were doing a scene right towards the end of the film, and Leonardo was playing Gatsby, and he was playing Tom Buchanan, and Nick Carraway. So, he’d sit in one chair and play his character, then he’d jump in another chair and play Tom, and then be standing up and he’d be Nick. He was learning all the different lines. He was incredible (laughs).
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