1. Lurhmann became deeply depressed after his would-be adaptation of “Alexander The Great” starring Leonardo DiCaprio fell apart.
Hollywood loves a project arms race and you may or may not remember that circa 2003, Luhrmann andOliver Stone were in a competition to make an Alexander The Great movie. Stone beat him to it with 2004’s deeply reviled “Alexander” and it killed Luhrmann’s project two-fold: 1) because it was first to screens and 2) it did so poorly and lost so much money, Hollywood was essentially convinced there was no audience appetite for this subject even if the movie was fantastic. Because of this, Luhrmann fell into a great funk. And it’s part of the reason that during the aughts, he only made two films: “Moulin Rouge!” (2001) and “Australia” (2008). From THR:
2. Did Luhrmann know he was going to get critically pummelled by the press?
Was it the stylistically bold and anachronistic approach to the material or is the material just too much of a sacred cow? Luhrmann suggests the latter may have made him a target, in an interview with the LA Times.
3. Luhrmann was offered the first “Harry Potter” movie to direct.
“I certainly have been offered a lot of very well known movies where we would have made ourselves very rich very quickly,” he told Coming Soon. “We consider that we're wealthy in life experience, so I don't know that all my choices have been the smartest commercial ideas, but they've all been about what I do feel compelled and what I love to do, creatively. That's always been where it's coming from, you know? We definitely could be cash richer than we are because of the things that have come our way, and every now and then I say, 'Oh, maybe I should just say yes next time someone says 'Harry Potter' again."
4. Luhrmann cranked Jay-Z on set to get the mood started in a party scene
There’s a party scene in the film with Tobey Maguire, Carey Mulligan, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton and a few other friends all gathered at Gatsby's. Luhrmann said the party had to accelerate to the point that it got crazy and abstract ,so to push the mood, he cranked up wild jazz and then Jay-Z on set. Luhrmann said there was only 20 minutes in the day left and he yelled to the cast and crew, “let’s turn all the cameras on and lets go for it.”
5. Perhaps ironically, Luhrmann didn’t read “The Great Gatsby” -- he listened to an audio book of it.
That’s splitting hairs to an extent, but Luhrmann suggest listening to it, rather than reading it, opened up his mind to its visual possibilities. Also, part of it was practical. He’s a slow reader. “Reading is such an intense experience,” he told Florence Welch in an Interview magazine interview.” My wife can read three novels in a night; she's a speed reader. But I read a page or two of, say, Aldous Huxley's 'The Devils of Loudun'—which took me almost six months to read, by the way—it overpowers me. I can hardly get through it.”