The pivotal role of Nick Carraway in Baz Luhrmann’s reimagining of “The Great Gatsby” is played by Tobey Maguire, who co-stars with one of his closest friends, Leonardo DiCaprio.
Maguire recalls, “I got a call from Leo and he said, ‘I just talked to Baz and he’s thinking about doing The Great Gatsby … He was talking about me for Gatsby and you for Nick. He’s in town… What are you up to tonight?’ So, the three of us got together and hung out for a few hours, and then I picked up a copy of The Great Gatsby and read it for the first time.”
Based on the classic novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald, “The Great Gatsby” follows would-be writer Nick Carraway as he leaves the Midwest and comes to New York City in the spring of 1922, an era of loosening morals, glittering jazz, bootleg kings, and sky-rocketing stocks. Chasing his own American Dream, Nick lands next door to a mysterious, party-giving millionaire, Jay Gatsby, and across the bay from his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), and her philandering, blue-blooded husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). It is thus that Nick is drawn into the captivating world of the super rich, their illusions, loves and deceits. As Nick bears witness, within and without of the world he inhabits, he pens a tale of impossible love, incorruptible dreams and high-octane tragedy, and holds a mirror to our own modern times and struggles.
“Nick represents any person on a journey who’s searching for the right path. He’s sensitive, artistic…an observer,” says Maguire of his character.
“Nick is stuck between these two worlds, his allegiance to Daisy and Gatsby and this kind of wild ideal of love that they’ve got, and also this more traditional tie to Tom as Daisy’s husband, though he’s not the nicest guy in the world, nor the most trustworthy,” explains co-actor Joel Edgerton.
“Nick is the innocent who comes into this world and is changed—he becomes terribly affected by the world and by what happens,” notes co-screenwriter Craig Pearce.
In the end, tragedy strikes, and Nick’s proximity to, and involvement with, that tragedy—to Gatsby, the Buchanans, New York City, the parties, the speakeasies —it all causes him to crack-up. “He’s disgusted by everyone’s behavior,” Maguire says. “And this is a character who, in the beginning of the book, is described as someone who reserves all judgments. Essentially, he still wants to believe that people, at their core, are good, so it breaks his heart to learn that they are not. And I think his own culpability and indulgence with these people adds to his disgust.”
“I don’t know if Nick is the moral compass, but he’s definitely our moral conductor,” Luhrmann says. “I think he takes us through the moral landscape of the story, and by the end he’s ready to find out who he is and what he wants.”
“Early on, Tobey was searching for the real Nick and I think he made an incredible discovery,” says Luhrmann. “Much like Fitzgerald was, Nick is something of an outsider, an awkward goose, an honest but out-of-his-element Midwestern guy grappling with life in the East. And Tobey took the grand step of expressing that, at first, in somewhat comic turns, but then, as Nick breaks down and becomes psychologically distraught, so, too, does Tobey’s performance become more psychological until finally we meet, at the end of the film, the Nick that we met at the beginning, a totally destroyed human being, not comic at all. This progression was a very brave choice on Tobey’s part—his Nick moves deftly between comic outsider, observer, broken, and, finally, changed man.”
“Tobey does such an incredible job of portraying Nick,” concludes DiCaprio. “Here he is experiencing life, he’s with these people, but he’s reflecting because he really is an outsider. He never really belongs.”
Opening across the Philippines on May 17 in Digital 3D and regular format, “The Great Gatsby” will be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.