Two By Two: “The Great Gatsby” Mia Farrow & Mira Sorvino

Mia Farrow as Daisy Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby” (1974)
Mira Sorvino as Daisy Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby” (2000)

This article was inspired by the fact that the movie posters for each of these films has the same font type. That, and the fact that my boyfriend was wearing a shirt bearing the cover art of the famed book, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald today. The iconic American novel has been adapted for the screen six times, including the soon-to-be Baz Luhrmann interpretation, set to be released this May. The first adaptation was a silent film in 1926, followed by the 1949 version starring Shelley Winters, and the most famous version, the 1974 film starring Robert Redford, Sam Waterston, Karen Black and Mia Farrow, with a screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola . The 1974 version won numerous awards, including: 2 Oscars, 3 BAFTAs, and a Golden Globe. Then, there is the 2000 television film version which aired on A&E, starring Mira Sorvino, Paul Rudd and Toby Stevens (Maggie Smith’s son) which, sadly, won no accolades. The reason was probably because, along with the script, the performances seemed like carbon copies of the ones that came before it.

Not only that, but the vocal characteristics for each are nearly identical. However, that may be due to the source material that F. Scott Fitzgerald provides. Source material, for us actors, is very important because it can tell us details about the characters that would otherwise be made up. Fitzgerald describes Daisy’s voice as, “breathless” and that her voice is “full of money.” This tells the actor how to perform the role to such an extent that some performances might seem similar, if not identical. Fitzgerald was extremely specific with how he wanted his characters to be perceived by readers. I am eager to see how Carey Mulligan interprets this famous role in Baz Luhrmann’s version.

I was unable to embed the video from the 2000 version, but you can click on the link and watch it here. For easier viewing, you might want to fast forward the video and start it at 3:27 or so, just get to the part with Daisy.

I was, however, able to include a  scene from the 1974 version:

In each clip, you can see that the vocal qualities of Daisy are nearly identical. Below is the trailer for the  updated film version starring Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Toby McGuire as Nick, and Carey Mulligan as Daisy. You’ll also notice in her exclamation of  the line, “Gatsby? What Gatsby?” is equally as similar as the previous two.

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s specificity with his character descriptions  led actors Mira Sorvino, Mia Farrow (and now, Carey Mulligan,) to interpret Daisy in similar ways. Not all acting is about creating. Sometimes, we just have to be the vessels for the director’s vision and the interpreters of an author’s description. In the end, they may turn out similar. That’s alright. It’s hard to interpret F. Scott Fitzgerald anyways, never mind adding a screenplay to the mix.

Freaky Friday: Fun Facts

Viola Davis in “Doubt” (2008.)

To help those who want to win Trivial Pursuit, here’s some trivia about movies and actors you might find interesting.

  • 10 years before the teen phenomenon Twilight (2008), Reese Witherspoon, Susan Sarandon, & Paul Newman starred in a murder mystery with the same name, Twilight (1998.)
  • [on losing the role of Frankie, which had been written for her by playwright Terrence McNally (which she originated onstage,) to Michelle Pfeiffer in the movie version of Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune] “I thought it was wonderful to see a love story about people over forty, ordinary people who were trying to connect. We haven’t seen it before, and I don’t think we will see it with this movie Frankie and Johnny (1991).” It is actually known that Bates has lost several film roles adapted from plays in which she has originated roles (‘night, Mother also being lost to Sissy Spacek on film.)
  • In 1999, Judi Dench won an Oscar for Shakespeare in Love having only appeared on screen for 8 minutes (4 scenes.) For her 2008 performance in Doubt, Viola Davis was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for appearing in two scenes. The second scene lasts 10 seconds and she does not speak.
  • Actor Hector Elizondo appears in nearly all of director Gary Marshall’s films, ” Appears in so many Garry Marshall films that his credit in the beginning of Exit to Eden (1994) was ‘As Usual… Hector Elizondo.'”
  • Before appearing in the 2012 film version of musical, Les Miserables, actor Eddie Redmayne won a Tony Award in 2010 for his role in Red…he won Best Featured Actor in a Play.
  • Actress Tracie Thoms, auditioned for the stage musical Rent 8 times without winning a role. She went on to star in the 2005 film version of the musical as Joanne. She went on to appear onstage in the same role in the final months of the show on Broadway.
  • Actress Julianne Moore didn’t make a movie until she was 29.
  • In the scene where Leonardo DiCaprio’s character Calvin Candie smashes the palm of his hand on the dinner table, the actor broke a glass under his hand and really began to bleed. DiCaprio ignored it, stayed in character, and continued with the scene. This take was the one used in the film.

Spotlight on Short Films: “The New Tenants” (2009) Best Live-Action Short Film Oscar Winner 2010

Short films don’t get the recognition that they deserve. They are often the springboards for feature films.  The 2006 feature film Cashback, was actually the expanded version of its 2004 counterpart. In fact, the feature film version of Cashback includes the full 18 minute Oscar-nominated short film within it.  Short films have a running time of 40 minutes or less, and are fairly easy to overlook. However, many actors, from big name stars, to every day working actors, participate in short films. I have done several short films that can rival any feature film in terms of their quality and production values. They are fun and a great way for us actors to build our resumes.

The 2009 short film, The New Tenants, won the Oscar for Best Live-Action Short Film in 2010. It is a Danish Live-Action short film that stars name-actors like Vincent D’Onofrio (Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Whole Wide World) Kevin Corrigan (The Departed, Superbad) and Liane Balaban (Last Chance Harvey.)

Summary via IMDB: A prying neighbor, a glassy-eyed drug dealer, and a husband brandishing both a weapon and a vendetta make up the welcome wagon. Set amidst the as-yet-unopened boxes and the hopes for a fresh start of two men on what might just be the worst moving day ever. Their new apartment reveals its terrifying history in a film that is by turns funny, frightening, and unexpectedly romantic.

It is definitely worth checking out. In fact, here is the film in its entirety. The running time is 20 minutes 41 seconds. And it’s totally worth it. From the acting, to the simple plot, to the cinematography, it’s a wonderful film: