Both times F. Scott’s Daisy has been brought to the big screen it’s been with graceful, vulnerable, childlike actresses. That is about right if you look strictly at the text. If you want Daisy, though, to be more like Fitzgerald’s troubled wife Zelda (maybe the original manic pixie dream girl) you need a wildness, a sloppiness at the edges. True, she was of a higher class than Fitzgerald and thus, the inspiration for Daisy, but there was an unmistakable madness to Zelda. So far, no actress and no director has ever gone down that road. But Carey Mulligan has done her best to do just that, as she states in Vogue (pics after the cut).
Mulligan on Daisy:
“Here,” says Carey Mulligan, alighting excitedly on a page in a well-thumbed paperback biography of Zelda Fitzgerald. “ ‘She had no more worries than a puppy would have, or a kitten. . . .’ That’s Zelda. That’s Daisy.”
And later, from the Vogue interview:
She dives again into her biography of Zelda, who, along with King, went into what Mulligan calls “my Daisy cocktail”: “ ‘I seem always curiously interested in myself, and it’s so much fun to stand off and look at me. . . .’ That’s a direct Zelda quote. It’s that kind of feeling: I’m-so-little-and-there’s-nothing-to-me, watch-me-have-nothing-to-me. She feels like she’s living in a movie of her own life. She’s constantly on show, performing all the time. Nothing bad can happen in a dream. You can’t die in a dream. She’s in her own TV show. She’s like a Kardashian.
It’s remarkable to listen to a smart young actress speak. I’d forgotten such a thing existed.
On the audition:
For the part of Daisy, Luhrmann auditioned just about every A-list actress in Hollywood. “Because of Leonardo, Daisy became a hugely desired role,” says the director, who reportedly saw Scarlett Johansson, Michelle Williams, Blake Lively, Keira Knightley, and Natalie Portman. “In everybody’s mind they have a Daisy Buchanan. It’s like Scarlett O’Hara, how touchy a subject that is. I think of Scarlett as being this precious child star who’s been a star all her life, and that’s true about Daisy. She’s a kind of social supernova; she’s so attractive and dazzling, and she makes you feel as if you’re the only person in the world.” Mulligan’s audition came relatively late in the day. “We did the piece just before the dining-room scene where Daisy and Gatsby kiss. ‘Am I supposed to kiss him?’ she asked me. ‘Yes, go for it.’ She leaned over and she kisses Leonardo.”
After the scene, Luhrmann barely said goodbye to her, trying to get her out of the room so he could find out what DiCaprio thought. “Leonardo turned to me and he goes, ‘Well . . . I guess that’s the Next Big Thing in acting.’ He said—and I thought this was very astute—‘We’ve seen a lot of great actors, but Daisy has got to be a kind of hothouse flower, something that Gatsby never encountered before, such that he feels an obsession to protect her.’ It was a very quick decision after that. It really was one of those classic backstage stories where you went, ‘Hmm, hmm, hmm—boom.’ ”