Monday, November 21, 2016

Dreamcasting: The Great Gatsby

As I've talked about before, I'm super into movies. I've seen more movies (over 1500) than I've read books (definitely less than that), although recently the balance has started to tip in favor of the latter rather than the former. After I finish a good book, I start to toss it around in my head a little...who would I cast in these roles for the movie adaptation? I thought it might be fun to do a little recurring Dreamcasting series here every so often just for something different but still bookish.

I actually loathed The Great Gatsby when I first read it as a high school junior. Gatsby was a moron, Daisy a twit, Nick a fool. But when I was bored a few years later during a summer home in college, I found myself devouring it and relishing the experience. I've continued to re-read it and been grateful that I picked it back up again...while the reading level of the prose is suitable to a high school student, I feel like it's hard to understand before you've loved and lost, before you've drowned in the feeling of wanting another chance, wanting to start over and try again because you messed it all up and you'll do it better the next time, you swear.

And yes, I know, Baz Luhrmann JUST made a new version of this a few years ago. But it wasn't as magnificent as I'd hoped it would be when I first heard about it. Part of it was the casting: Leonardo DiCaprio was too old and had no chemistry with Carey Mulligan, who was competent but not as luminous as I was hoping as Daisy. Tobey Maguire would have been amazing casting as Nick Carraway...except being, again, too old. Here's how I would cast the main roles if I was making it today:

Jay Gatsby: Leonardo would have been amazing casting...if he'd been a decade younger. Gatsby has to be charming, with a willpower that can make you believe he'd make almost anyone believe in him. The one actor that I think could just knock it out of the park? Michael B. Jordan. He's been amazing since The Wire when he was just a teenager...just effortlessly electric onscreen. 

Daisy Buchanan: I think this is one of the hardest roles to dreamcast, honestly. She has to be so beautiful and compelling that you can believe that a man would go to the lengths Gatsby has gone for her, grounded but also floating with deliberate ignorance past the ruins she leaves in her wake. She's the on-the-cusp It Girl of the moment, so how about lovely Haley Bennett? She's actually got kind of a 20s look working for her.

Nick Carraway: For the wide-eyed and relatively innocent Nick, I like Michael Cera. Nick is a reactive character, the events of the novel happen to/around him, and for me he needs to be kind of bland-but-good-hearted-seeming in a way that I think Cera satisfies.

Tom Buchanan: He needs to be attractive but callous, the kind of man that would conduct his affairs openly in front of his well-bred wife and pick up a white trash social climber married to a poor man for his mistress. Jonathan Rhys Meyers has that kind of almost cruel look that I think Tom needs.

Myrtle Wilson: This is kind of a throwaway role, the aforementioned white trash mistress. Someone lovely but with a kind of hardness underneath, sexy but in an almost artificial way. She's as blue-blooded as they come in real life, and a little too young, but once I started thinking about Cara Delavigne in the role, I can't shake the idea...

Jordan Baker: I actually thought Elizabeth Debicki was a perfect Jordan in the Luhrmann version, but if we're recasting, we're recasting. It's a minor role, she really needs to be energetic and charming but capable of casual thoughtlessness. I'm going to go with Nina Dobrev, whose work on The Vampire Diaries had her playing a charismatic sociopath very convincingly.

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