Baz Lurhmann's The Great Gatsby is at its best when it's having fun and re-creating the heartthrobbing electricity that pulsed through the veins of the young and wealthy in 1920s New York City. Part of the problem with being able to truly invest in a story like The Great Gatsby is that all its characters are ridiculously flawed, but when these flawed characters are celebrating life and embracing their sexiness -- complete with gaudy, over-the-top Baz Lurhmann-isms -- the film just bursts with color and flavor, and actually helps you feel more alive.
No scene accomplishes this more than the one where Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton) takes a reluctant Nick Carraway (Tobey Maguire) to an apartment he holds for his mistress (Isla Fisher) in the city. What begins as a comically loud lovemaking session between Tom and his lady eventually escalates to a wild romp, complete with booze, sex, jazz, hip-hop and pillow fights. It's the one scene in the film you can actually feel, clawing and scratching at your wildest inhibitions, and part of its success may be due to the way it all came together.
According to Lurhmann, the inspiration for how he wanted to shoot the scene actually came from Leonardo DiCaprio's father, who gave Lurhmann a book called The Wild Party, which was banned in Boston when first published in 1928. Here's a description from Amazon: "Published in 1928, this racy prose poem follows a night in the life of a vaudeville dancer that includes everything from hot sex to cold murder. This classy edition has 75 drawings by Art Spiegelman (MAUS) and red velvet endpapers."
So Lurhmann knew he needed his actors to get wild and crazy for this particular scene, but with only 20 minutes left to shoot it they were stuck. Nothing was happening. "We wanted to go there but weren’t quite sure how to do it," he told UrbanDaily. "So we got all the props for the scene and I told the cast ‘Let’s go for it!’ We started with jazz music , there was some pillow fighting and then very loudly I turned on Jay-Z’s ‘N.I.P.’ and things took off. There’s a moment you can see in the movie where a very expensive lamp gets smashed. My assistant director thought I should shut it down because it was total mayhem -- there were clothes coming off. I told everyone to get in the bedroom and brought a camera inside.That’s how it came to be known as the orgy scene.”
Man, what we would've given to be a fly on the wall while they were filming this sequence. The results, however, prove that sometimes the greatest moments in a movie happen by accident.
Sometimes all you need is a little "Niggas in Paris" to create movie magic.