Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Rebecca Hall Workshopped THE GREAT GATSBY with Baz Luhrmann

     October 18, 2010

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F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic novel The Great Gatsby is being eyed as a possible vehicle for Australia director Baz Luhrmann. The renowned filmmaker has yet to officially announce whether he will helm the project, though he recently held a workshop with various A-list actors reading parts from a script he wrote with Craig Pearce. Deadline doesn’t offer anything concrete, though they keenly point out that Luhrmann “workshops every script he’s considering.”

Sony Pictures holds the rights to the film adaptation and is eying big name actors such as Leonardo DiCaprio (who read the part of the titular Gatsby during the workshop), Tobey Maguire (who read the part of Nick Carraway, the narrator) and Rebecca Hall (who read the part of Daisy). You may recall that DiCaprio and Maguire were recently rumored for the leads.  That report positioned Amanda Seyfried as Daisy, while this update suggests Luhrmann likes Natalie Portman for the role.  Hit the jump for more.

Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby was published in 1925 and, according to IMDB, has made its way to the silver screen four times upon its release.  (Okay, three if you don’t count the TV-adaptation released in 2000.)  The most notable adaptation, of course, was the 1974 Francis Ford Coppola-scripted version starring Robert Redford and Mia Farrow in the roles of Jay Gatsby and Daisy Buchanan. The film was a critical failure, but a financial success, mainly due to Redford’s star power at the time. I remember watching it in school and while impressive from a production standpoint, the Jack Clayton-directed film failed to capture the deeper meanings of Fitzgerald’s classic novel. Granted, such is an impossible task for any filmmaker, though I’ve heard Coppola’s script was damn-near perfect, but jettisoned during the film’s production.

I respect Luhrmann as a filmmaker. Moulin Rouge is a fine musical, brimming with energy and heart, while his adaptation of Romeo and Juliet remains one of the more impressive versions of Shakespeare’s play that I’ve seen. However, I’m reluctant to give the thumbs up to his directing of such a priceless novel, not only because I don’t believe any film adaptation could do justice to a near-perfect story, but also because Luhrmann’s style, while epic, is not appropriate for this type of piece. If I were to pin someone to direct Gatsby, it would have to be someone more meticulous and refined, someone like David Lynch or Paul Thomas Anderson – two directors who could channel the complexities of the characters and wouldn’t allow the Hollywood system to jeopardize their vision.

As for the casting, I’m all over DiCaprio as Gatsby. The Inception star has proven he can do dark and foreboding, while remaining iconic at the same time (see the unappreciated Sam Mendes drama Revolutionary Road for a fine example of this). As for Daisy, I loved Rebecca Hall in The Town and Vicky Cristina Barcelona, but personally I’d go for Portman, who is red hot right now after her turn in Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan. She has an ability to play ravishing, with undercurrents of dark emotion, something that suits the role of Daisy perfectly. And Tobey Maguire is a no-brainer for the role of Nick, the wide-eyed, naïve narrator who idolizes Gatsby, but never quite understands him.

What do you think? Is Luhrmann a good choice for this type of film?

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