Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan find modern relevance in ‘The Great Gatsby’

Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan play Gatsby and Daisy in "The Great Gatsby." Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures
Leonardo DiCaprio and Carey Mulligan play Gatsby and Daisy in “The Great Gatsby.”
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

What Baz Luhrmann did to F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” has dominated reports on the film: the 3-D, the rap music, the dazzling digital effects in a film about flappers and pre-Depression excess. But there are still actors with characters they had to play, ones who have been continuously debated over the novel’s nine-decade existence.

“Everyone has an interpretation of who these characters are,” says Leonardo DiCaprio, who stresses the Robert Redford comparisons further by playing mystery millionaire Jay Gatsby, as Redford did in the 1974 film adaptation. “The Gatsby I remember reading when I was 15 years old is far different the Gatsby I read as an adult,” he says. “What I remember from junior high was this hopeless romantic, who was solely in love with this one woman, who created this great amount of wealth to respectfully hold her hand.

“To reread it as an adult, it was fascinating. It’s nuanced, it’s existential, and at the center is this man who is incredibly hollow. He’s attached himself to this relic known as Daisy. She’s a mirage,” he says. “I was struck by the sadness in him the first time. Now I look at him completely differently. I look at him as someone who is very hollow and searching for some meaning. He’s holding onto this image. One very telling sequence is when Nick notices that Gatsby is holding onto Daisy, but he’s still staring at the green light. He’s finally got her in his arms, but he’s still searching for this thing he thinks will complete him. That’s the Gatsby I was incredibly excited about playing as an actor.”

Carey Mulligan had similar difficulties with Daisy, the trophy wife, married to wealthy cad Tom (Joel Edgerton), with whom Gatsby is obsessed. “There are holes in Daisy’s character, and she disappears for a long time,” Mulligan explains. “Often she’s not saying what she means, or acts quite erratically. There’s quite a lot to fill in, just to play her consistently.” But Mulligan chose a side. “She was a product of her time. When I defend Daisy, I always say she came from a family that would demand she marry for money. If she didn’t, that would have been scandalous.”

Luhrmann made great attempts to modernize the novel, chiefly by splicing modern music between hot jazz. But the novel has much to say about our era on its own. “In a lot of ways this book predicted the great crash of the late 1920s in America,” says DiCaprio. “It’s a book that talks about the great opulence in America during that time period, and the idea that the future is endless and we can keep consuming and living the way we do without any consequences. It’s timeless in the sense that it’s an 80-year cycle. We encountered it again in our modern era. It’s not an American novel in that regard; it’s something that’s worldwide. Fitzgerald is commenting on society and human nature and the great pursuit of wealth. “


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Crews battle fires in Dorchester, Cambridge overnight

Fires ripped through homes in Dorchester and Cambridge overnight causing injuries and displacing scores of residents.

International

Putin fields question from U.S. fugitive Edward Snowden

Edward Snowden, the fugitive former U.S. spy agency contractor who leaked details of intelligence eavesdropping, asked Russian President Vladimir Putin a question on Thursday during…

Local

Boston hospitals apply lessons learned in Marathon bombings

The bombs at last year's Boston Marathon showcased the city's medical talent but also taught valuable lessons in responding to a mass disaster.

National

Rapper affiliate of Wu-Tang Clan 'cuts off own…

Rapper Andre Johnson, who has performed with New York outfit the Wu-Tang Clan, is in a critical condition after reportedly cutting off his own penis…

The Word

'Mrs. Doubtfire' sequel in the works

Finally, Hollywood is making your dreams come true - they're making that "Mrs. Doubtfire" sequel you've been clamoring for all these years.

The Word

Lawsuit accuses 'X-Men' director Bryan Singer of raping…

A new lawsuit accuses director Bryan Singer of sexual assault against a minor.

Movies

The Cannes Film Festival announces its 2014 lineup

The lineup of the 2014 Cannes Film Festival was announced this morning, promising the latest from a slew of usual (and some unusual) suspects.

Television

‘Survivor: Cagayan’ recap: Episode 8

Sure, it's called Survivor. But this season should really be called 'The Tony Show.'

MLB

MLB video highlights: Red Sox beat White Sox…

Red Sox walk 15 times in extra innings win

NBA

Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics:…

Kris Humphries on free agency, future with Celtics: 'I hope to be back'

NBA

Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery…

Celtics turn attention to NBA Draft, improve lottery odds with loss

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April version

Parenting

How to parent without gender stereotypes in a…

Christia Spears Brown, Phd. author of "Parenting beyond Pink & Blue" gives advice on raising kids free of gender stereotypes.

Wellbeing

This Week in Health News: breastfed infants trying…

Are breastfed infants trying to prevent mom from having another baby? Theory: The act of breastfeeding not only brings mom and baby closer together –…

Wellbeing

This Week in Health: chocolate may prevent obesity…

Can chocolate prevent obesity and diabetes? Location of study: U.S. Study subjects: Mice Results: The positive health benefits of chocolate have been studied increasingly more…

Wellbeing

Unexplained infertility may be caused by lack of…

Researchers have identified a protein on the egg's surface that interacts with another protein on the surface of sperm, allowing the two cells to join.