The Great Gatsby

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAKE COYLE

TOBEY Maguire didn’t have to go far when Leonardo DiCaprio called him about meet­ing to dis­cuss an adap­ta­tion of The Great Gatsby with Baz Luhrmann. “I hap­pened to live next door to Leo at the time,” Maguire said.

“I was like, ‘ Oh, yeah. Sure. I can be over in 30 sec­onds if that’s good for you’.”

The Great Gatsby is the first film of note co- star­ring the two long­time pals. It’s fit­ting, too, be­cause they play the clas­sic tan­dem of the des­per­ate ro­man­tic Jay Gatsby ( DiCaprio) and his lone friend, the nar­ra­tor Nick Car­raway ( Maguire) who, like Maguire, lives ad­ja­cent to Gatsby.

Work­ing to­gether on a film is a long time com­ing for DiCaprio and Maguire. In a re­cent joint in­ter­view at the Plaza Ho­tel in New York, the two cheer­fully re­flected on their close friend­ship, flash­ing oc­ca­sional glimpses of the same boy­ish com­pet­i­tive­ness that first brought them to­gether as child ac­tors vy­ing for the same parts.

“Af­ter I met Tobey at an au­di­tion, I felt like I wanted this guy to be my friend,” DiCaprio re­called.

“I re­mem­ber driv­ing back from school and he was do­ing Hot Rod Brown Class Clown with Whoopi Gold­berg out­side Hol­ly­wood High. And I jumped out of my car in the mid­dle of the scene, as they were shoot­ing, prac­ti­cally. I was like, ‘ Tobey! Tobey! Tobey! Give me your num­ber.’ He was like, ‘ Yeah, who are you again?’.”

That be­gan 25 years of a friend­ship that hasn’t been warped by time or fame. They’ve re­mained stead­fast while their ca­reers as­cended from fran­ti­cally chas­ing parts in Crit­ters 3 ( DiCaprio’s film de­but; Maguire got turned down) to be­ing among Hol­ly­wood’s top lead­ing men.

They’ve taken dif­fer­ent routes. DiCaprio broke out as a teen idol in Ti­tanic, star power he then used to tackle am­bi­tious roles with top- tier di­rec­tors like Martin Scors­ese ( The Avi­a­tor, Shut­ter Is­land), Steven Spiel­berg ( Catch Me If You Can) and Clint East­wood ( J. Edgar). Maguire built him­self through ac­claimed dra­mas ( The Ice Storm, Won­der Boys, The Cider House Rules) be­fore land­ing the Spi­der- Man fran­chise. “Ev­ery pro­ject we do, we talk about,” DiCaprio said.

“Ev­ery sin­gle choice I’ve made, I’ve talked to Tobey about and vice versa. We’ve had end­less con­ver­sa­tions about cer­tain projects and ar­gued with one an­other and sup­ported one an­other along the way.”

Maguire, 37, and DiCaprio, 38, both grew up in di­vorced fam­i­lies of mod­est means in Los An­ge­les.

“We both came from sim­i­lar up­bring­ings,” DiCaprio said. “We had hum­ble be­gin­nings, let’s put it that way. We were th­ese young, very en­thu­si­as­tic, am­bi­tious young men that re­ally wanted to get our foot in the door.”

Over the years, DiCaprio and Maguire have of­ten sought to do some­thing to­gether, but the right movie didn’t come along un­til Gatsby.

“It’s al­ways been about hav­ing enough meat on the bone for two ac­tors to be in the same space,” DiCaprio said, laugh­ing, as Maguire nod­ded.

“Is there enough to do? I mean, you’ve got a great role, but is there enough for me to do?” Luhrmann calls them “a true part­ner­ship”. “I would have looked at Tobey any­way in the role of Nick Car­raway be­cause Tobey is ex­quis­ite with the still- wa­ters- run- deep char­ac­ter­i­sa­tion,” said Luhrmann, who also di­rected DiCaprio in 1996’ s Romeo + Juliet.

“He and Leonardo’s re­la­tion­ship re­ally counted for some­thing. We all knew that if we were go­ing to go through this jour­ney, it would be a plus that we were friends.”

On Gatsby, the pair swore to be “bru­tally hon­est with one an­other”, DiCaprio said, de­pend­ing on their years of friend­ship to make them “part­ners in crime”.

Their chem­istry to­gether is ob­vi­ous in the film. As Gatsby, DiCaprio em­bod­ies both his charis­matic aura and the tor­tured long­ing be­neath the “old sport” ve­neer. And as the on­look­ing Car­raway, Maguire is a solid ves­sel for F. Scott Fitzger­ald’s prose.

“I can’t tell you how many count­less times on set we would do a scene and come up to one an­other and say, ‘ What’s your take on that?”’ DiCaprio said.

“We had our own very dis­tinct pri­vate con­ver­sa­tions about ev­ery­thing.”

Maguire said he thinks they each have healthy at­ti­tudes about how the movie busi­ness fits into their re­la­tion­ship – spurred by am­bi­tion but also able to root for one an­other. When Maguire played a trau­ma­tised Afghanistan War vet­eran in the 2009 melo­drama Broth­ers, DiCaprio held a party to cel­e­brate the per­for­mance, a soiree that was widely be­lieved to help Maguire score a Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion for best ac­tor.

THE GREAT GATSBY

Opens May 30 at Vil­lage and State Cinemas

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