Last night I attended a screening of The Great Gatsby deep in East Egg: the Gold Coast of Long Island. Prior to the screening, during a chaotic red carpet moment, I got to speak with director Baz Luhrmann, who also introduced the film (more to come on this 3-D experience later). Here's what the man behind the latest adaptation of the novel had to say:
- On his adaptation: "I think we've all done our best to give all we can to this Gatsby in this moment in this time. And I hope someone comes along and makes another Gatsby."
- "I think like Hamlet... there's always room for the right interpretation in the right moment. I think it should be done this year and in ten years time. It's like the book, if you read it when you're 15 and you read it when you're 40 it's a different book. It's there to be interpreted in many different ways, in many different times, and in many different places."
- On filming in Australia: "We were originally going to make the film here, and then... we spent two years researching, and then, you know they have a rebate in New York... and I really love the Men In Black films, but they took the rebate. So we had to find another way of doing our film, and we had to reproduce it in Australia."
- On making Gatsby's mansion: Luhrmann says he visited the Vanderbilt Mansion in Hyde Park, and "perfectly reproduced" the pool there for his film. He also visited other Gold Coast mansions, like the Hempstead House.
- On meeting a Fitzgerald: "A very regal older lady came out of the audience [at a recent screening] and I did not know her. And she held me by the hand and she said, 'I just came to see what you did with my grandfather's book.' I'm a person who is pretty stable in most situations but I was speechless. And she said, 'You know, I think he would be proud. And most importantly, all his life ever since he's died, people have said you can't turn his book into a movie, and I think you have done it.'"
- Finally, I asked Luhrmann if he had seen the 1926 adaptation that F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald walked out on during its premiere, but the director said after searching everywhere he came to the determination that there is no print of this film in existence—the trailer seems to be all that remains: