British actress Carey Mulligan is certainly on an enviable role. Fresh off of critical acclaim for Drive, she has the haunting NC-17 drama Shame out in December, and she’s currently filming Baz Luhrmann’s 3D adaptation of The Great Gatsby in Australia. Once done there, she’s not slowing down any, as she will start shooting Inside Llewyn Davis (a musician trying to make it in the 1960’s New York folk scene) for the Coen brothers, and then do the new untitled Spike Jonze project from a Charlie Kaufman screenplay that reportedly centers on world leaders who unite to discuss cataclysmic events such as oil prices and wars.
While she was in L.A. recently, Collider got the opportunity to speak with Mulligan about her current and upcoming projects, how outrageously lucky she feels about working with such incredible talent, in front of and behind the camera, how extraordinary it is to be in a Baz Luhrmann film, her audition with Gatsby star Leonardo DiCaprio, how the Coen brothers are her favorite filmmakers and that she can’t believe she gets to be one of their characters, and that she couldn’t refuse the opportunity to work with Spike Jonze. Check out what she had to say after the jump:
Question: What’s it like to take on such a classic American story that is as iconic as The Great Gatsby? What is it about Daisy that you are most looking forward to playing?
CAREY MULLIGAN: It’s so scary! She’s such a good character. She’s so much fun to play. She’s just whipped cream. She’s light and fluffy with no substance, and she knows it, and that’s her tragedy. It’s fun. I’ve not played anyone like her, and I wanted to be in a Baz Luhrmann film. It’s just extraordinary. He’s so amazing at what he does. He makes the most incredible films.
How is it to work with Leonardo DiCaprio?
MULLIGAN: Leonardo is the most incredible actor, on the planet, with a couple of people alongside him. Getting to act with him is just [amazing]. I walked away from my audition for that and I couldn’t believe that I’d been acting with him. I’ve worked with amazing people, but my friends freak out that I’m working with him. I freak out in a geeky acting way. They freak out in a starstruck way. He’s Leonardo DiCaprio, and his fame is so big. That’s a complete tangent about that.
But, at the audition, we had been acting out these scenes together. We did 15 takes of one scene. He didn’t really have much dialogue as Gatsby, and the camera was never on him, but he played three other characters. He’d say a line as Gatsby, and then he’d jump up and play Tom Buchanan. We were doing the scene with the cameras over my shoulder, and he was lighting a cigarette for me and looking at me. It was all me, and he didn’t have any words, and he was improvising stuff to say, just to help me. I was like, “Leonardo DiCaprio doesn’t need to be helping me in this audition.” He was auditioning girls all day. I was so blown away by how generous he was, let alone being amazing to act with. It’s a crazy film to be in.
Is the Coen brothers’ film, Inside Llewyn Davis, what you’re going to be doing after Gatsby? What is it about the Coen brothers that made you want to work with them?
MULLIGAN: Yeah. What doesn’t draw you into a Coen brothers movie. It’s amazing. I can’t believe it! They’re the Coen brothers. It’s ridiculous.
Did you audition for that film as well?
MULLIGAN: Yeah, I did an audition for them. It all happened really quickly. I just got the script and they asked me to do an audition. I spoke to them on the phone, and freaked out that I was on the phone to the Coen brothers And then, I did this audition and sent it over, and they offered me the job the next day. That all happened four days ago. Now, I’m going to be doing that. They are my favorite filmmakers, and I can’t believe that I get to be one of their characters. It’s ridiculous. I’m so excited.
Obviously, you’re on a roll with the quality projects you’re doing, and the casts and directors that you’re working with. Do you have the temptation to just work non-stop because you have this momentum, or do you also need to take breaks and recharge?
MULLIGAN: My agent in London told me, after Never Let Me Go because I loved doing that so much, “If you’re on a lucky streak and you’re doing well, you should only take a part, if you can’t bear the idea of anyone else doing it.” That’s been the case since then, with Drive and Shame and the play (The Seagull), and the stuff that’s going on, like Gatsby. I would have been devastated, if I hadn’t gotten those jobs. With the Coen brothers movie, you’d have to kill me before I didn’t do that job. And, the Spike Jonze movie (written by Charlie Kaufman) is the same thing. I can’t not work with him. It’s perfect. I’m outrageously lucky! It’s absurd. I still haven’t even got my head wrapped around it. So, if the next job after that is with Pedro Almodovar, then fuck, I’ll keep working. But, I’m not going to work for the sake of working. I’ll work, if I’m extraordinarily lucky enough to continue having the same opportunities, but it will be based on whatever is there. If there’s nothing around, then I’ll go home and make carrot cake for awhile.