It seems only fitting that the New York City premiere for the The Great Gatsby — a movie set in a time of over-the-top indulgence — would be, well, grand.
From a seemingly never-ending red carpet lined with a Tiffany blue backdrop (the jeweler was one of the sponsors of the opening) to the corrals of fans gathered around the Lincoln Center to applaud and squeal at every arrival, the red carpet felt more like a lead-in to a big awards show than it did a typical movie opening.
While Jay-Z whisked inside with a quick wave to fans, the film’s stars — including Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Amitabh Bachchan — stopped to chat on the carpet. Here’s what they had to say:
Leonardo DiCaprio, on relating to his character, Jay Gatsby: “This novel took on a whole new meaning for me when I became an adult. I really connected and was fascinated by the loneliness and isolation of this man that is a part of this new America that is emerging as this superpower,” said DiCaprio, who we’re pretty sure we saw taking a selfie inside the theater. (See, he’s just like one of us!) “Here he is trying to connect with the blue-blood sort of aristocracy of East Egg and become a part of that world, but he’s somebody that came from nothing. He is holding on to this mirage, this green light, that is Daisy, and desperately trying to fill avoid what is within him, but he’s not in reality. The ship has sailed, so to speak.”
Carey Mulligan, who plays Daisy, on working with Leo:
“Leo made it so easy. I was really daunted. I’ve been a fan of his. I’ve looked up to him since I was a kid. It was a big deal,” said Mulligan. “He was so kind, warm and generous and sweet and really kind of involving. We talked about the scenes a lot, and we talked to [director Baz Luhrmann] a lot, and we just kind of focused on the work. We had a really good time playing [our parts].”
Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan, who plays Meyer Wolfshiem, on working in Hollywood for the first time.”
“[Lurhmann] was on a private trip to India. I don’t know why he just wanted to meet me. Last year, he asked me if I would just do a small cameo in his film, and I said ‘Sure.’ This is more a friendly gesture than anything else,” said the actor, 70, who has nearly 200 film credits to his name. So, what was it like working on his first Hollywood movie? “Fantastic. Just working in that atmosphere, seeing the professionalism, the amount of research and the effort that has been made toward detailing. It’s superb,” said Bachchan, whose fans chanted his name and flagged posters that referred to him as “The Greatest Gatsby.”
Tobey Maguire, on portraying Nick Carraway: “I think we’re pretty true to the book.” says Maguire. “In the book, Nick is observing a lot of the action but we did find a way to show the audience how the action affects Nick, and I think that was one of the keys to our strategy to making the film.”
Baz Luhrmann, on the first order of business before making the film: “Is to go to Leonardo DiCaprio and say, ‘Would you come on this road with me and Tobey Maguire?’ We were together way before we got the greenlight.”