Friday, June 08, 2012

Casting Gatsby*

Hey, blog-readers. I've got a huge back-log of blog entries sitting in "draft-land" at the moment, so expect a handful of entries over the next few days. I'll start with this one.

As many of you know, Baz Luhrman's film adaptation of "The Great Gatsby" is nearing release. You can watch the trailer here. And I admit it, I was pretty excited about the trailer. I think Baz Luhrman captured the desperate, and at times grotesque, hysteria of the twenties in a way that is relevant to modern audiences. (Even though Bob Fosse did it just as accurately in Cabaret, without crossing any "obscenity" lines. Which is more than most directors of the show do, and more than Baz Luhrman may do, to be honest.) Anyway, my friend Allison has qualms about the film. You can read them here, but the basic gist of her arguments are:

Leonard DiCaprio = too tortured and old to play Gatsby. Gatsby should be young and naive.
Carey Mulligan = too young and serious to play Daisy. Daisy is selfish and flighty. (Although Mulligan's got the look.)

And I agree with Allison on these points. She challenged her blog readers to come up with their own casting. So here's what I've come up with. I've given you some of my early considerations before giving you my final casting. 

Gatsby considerations: 
Tom Hiddleston - Maybe it's because he played Fitzgerald himself in "Midnight in Paris," but I think he's got the right look and can play Jazz Age childish naivete well.
Ryan Gosling - Okay, maybe not. But maybe. The guy can do little wrong in my book. And he's got great chemistry with Michelle Williams (see choices for Daisy). He might be a little to angsty, though. No, angsty isn't the right word...tortured. Gatsby isn't actually tortured, I don't think. He only thinks he is...he likes to be, almost. Young lost love and all that. I don't know if Gosling is innocent enough.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt - Here's my best pick. He's got that "All-American Boy" look, he's about the right age, and he can play naivete honestly and sympathetically (500 Days of Summer, anyone?). I think he's a very talented actor who can imbue the character of Gatsby with the smiling, childish denial he needs. 

Daisy considerations: 
Kiera Knightly - Okay, but hear me out. Try to erase Pirates of the Caribbean from your mind. Think "A Dangerous Method." Or "Never Let Me Go." Or even "Pride and Prejudice." I'm just not sure if she can play the "flightiness" well enough.
 Charlize Theron - She DID win an Oscar in 2001. She's pretty, also about the right age. She can also do a lot more than people give her credit for ("Rita corny, Michael"), and I'd be interested to see what she could do with this role.
Michelle Williams - Once again, I've saved my favorite pick for last. Because remember how she played Marilyn Monroe in "My Week With Marilyn" and was freaking AWESOME? I think she can play Daisy with all the selfishness and foolishness the part demands without allowing it to be 2-dimensional. And she looks the right age. And she's a knock-out. And "her voice is full of money."

Nick considerations: 
I thought of a huge handful of people for this one: Jude Law, Ewen McGreggor, James Franco. Morgan Freeman. (J/K.) Partly because I don't care as deeply about Nick as a character, but I think I landed on one I like.
Daniel Radcliffe - I know, this is another weird one. But he's got those striking eyes, and Nick serves as an observer for the story. (A nice Dr. T.J. Eckelberg parallel.) Daniel Radcliffe also seems very able to convey thought without needing to talk. He might be a wee bit too young, though.

I like Elizabeth Debicki as Jordan Baker. Maggie Gyllenhaal could do it, too. There's an enchanting straighforwardness about both actresses. A masculinity that doesn't seem to detract from their femininity.

So there's my recasting: 
Gatsby - Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Daisy - Michelle Williams
Nick - Daniel Radcliffe

But Bollywood star Amitabh Bachchan retains the role of Meyer Wolfsheim. Because that's effing awesome. (Even though SRK remains the Bollywood king of my heart. And the eternal love of Anjali and Rahul, in its infinite forms, is the greatest love of all cinema.)

* "Casting Gatsby" sounds like a tongue-twister. It's not. It's actually pretty easy to say several times very quickly. But it's got all those crunchy consonants that make it sound like it would be a tongue-twister. 


A said...

I have to strongly disagree with Joseph Gordon Leavitt as Gatsby. I think I see what you mean, but he's too dorky. I always pictured Gatsby as a classic leading man type (like a young Gary Cooper--think this: or this: hmm, I'm intrigued by this...). But now that you mention JGL, I think he could be a great Nick. I can see him in the straight, reflective, observer role. Charlize Theron is too beautiful and too mature. But Michelle Williams I can definitely see. And surprisingly, I just might (maybe maybe) be able to see Ryan Gosling. It seems really odd. But then I think of his tall blond frame (he'd have to slim down). He can do earnest. And though he's a sex symbol now, he was once a less hunky guy. hmmmm... But then I think of all the "hey girl..." variations and his angst, and I question it. As for Nick, I could see Jude Law (though he's getting on in years), but not James Franco. Daniel Radcliffe would have to convince me he could do it. I keep picturing him on interview shows--his nervous, dorky energy--and I wonder if he could pull off the calm, quiet, collected Nick. But I'm not totally opposed. he'd have to wait a few years because he's too young right now.

Beckah said...

I don't know enough about the film (because I haven't seen the trailer) or the book (which I LOVE, don't get me wrong, and I've read it several times, just not recently) that all I have to say is that I bought "Kuch Kuch Hota Hai," "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham," and "Om Shanti Om" and my life is amazing now.

James Best said...

I don't agree with your friend. I read her post. (I'm hesitant to go to her page and go all creepy stranger on her.)

First. I like Baz Luhrman. I think he's imaginative. I don't love faithful adaptations. I prefer vision and daring. Change it. It's a movie. I read the book. You're not going to recreate what's in my head so go ahead and do what you want to do.

It's why I like the 3rd Harry Potter movie over the others.

I don't think Gatsby is naive. He's idealistic, he's deluded himself but at his core he knows he's a bit of a liar. There's pain because he's lost who he thinks he loved. He's built himself up into something else. Jay Gatsby is a fiction he creates for others and in a sense believes himself.

That's a complicated person. That's not wide eyed wonder. That's how Robert Redford played it. I think that's how Leo Dicaprio will play it.

Tobey Macguire? Meh. I would have liked Joseph Gordon Leavitt as Nick.

Nick Carraway is one of my all time favorite characters/narrators. I could write a whole post just about him.

Ok. That's long enough.

Jules said...

I'm sorry, I have to disagree here too. I don't think Gatsby was naive, he was just too ambitious for his own good. And I like Tobey as Nick, because he's such a snob (Nick, that is) and I feel Mr. Maguire can get that across. That bit in the first chapter about his father's advice on not judging people? Not only does he misinterpret it, but he's a hypocrite on both interpretations by constantly judging people (and what it even means to judge people) throughout the entire book - especially Gatsby. Tom, Daisy, & Jordan deserve it for sure, but Gatsby . . . well, Nick comes around to him at the end, which is kind of the whole point of the novel . . . referring to him as "great" first with sarcasm and then later with sincerity.

I personally love Mulligan for Daisy. And Jack White's U2 cover of Love is Blindness? Yes. Yes. And . . . yes. Just yes all around.

ivy said...

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