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[Warning: Spoilers ahead if you have not read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby.]
“I don’t think she’s a terrible person,” Carey Mulligan says of The Great Gatsby‘s Daisy, one of the more polarizing female figures in great American literature.
“I think she’s definitely flawed,” she explains. “I had to approach her sympathetically, so I did, and I think she initially makes choices that are entirely logical for her time. She’s a product of her time.”
Expanding on that point, Mulligan attests that marrying for money — as Daisy did with Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) — was “the expected thing to do,” but that there is “a real weakness and a cowardice to the way she behaves at the end, so there’s huge holes in her character.”
Indeed, debates have raged for decades over whether F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Daisy is a victim or a villain crafted by circumstance. Described by many as shallow and self-absorbed, Daisy’s actions have fatal consequences at the story’s end.
“Daisy is a difficult character for any actress to embody to everyone’s satisfaction because she’s a woman onto whom the reader tends to project one’s own ideal,” writes The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy in his review of the film. “Accordingly, viewers will debate whether or not Mulligan has the beauty, the bearing, the dream qualities desired for the part, but she lucidly portrays the desperate tear Daisy feels between her unquestionable love for Gatsby and fear of her husband.”
The actress, meanwhile, first watched her performance while curled in the fetal position in a private screening room.
“I hate watching myself. I watched it with a couple of friends in a screening room and made them sit seven rows behind me, and I curled up into a ball in the corner,” she tells THR, adding that she found particular pleasure in watching her co-stars on screen.
“I thought it was amazing and I loved seeing all the stuff I wasn’t involved in. That was great and I thought all the characters were perfect,” she says. “It’s spectacular, it really is. And he’s amazing, Baz [Luhrmann]. What Baz does so brilliantly is a really spectacular landscape that doesn’t dominate the story — the heart of it.”
Warner Bros.’ The Great Gatsby opens May 10.
Email: Sophie.Schillaci@THR.com; Twitter: @SophieSchillaci
Jordan Zakarin contributed to this report.
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