Baz Luhrmann on his next projects: A stage version of 'Strictly Ballroom' and a 'Great Gatsby' movie

baz-luhrrmanBaz Luhrmann, the Aussie director of Moulin Rouge! and Australia, stopped by the New York Music Theatre Festival this week and dropped hints about two of his upcoming projects. First up: a stage adaptation of his feature directorial debut, 1992’s Strictly Ballroom. He plans to do a creative workshop in Sydney, Australia, this December and predicts that the show will “absolutely” end up in New York City (though not in the next two years).

Luhrmann has also been developing a film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby — or, in his words, “the American novel.” Luhrmann says he is deep into his work adapting the book, which he called “more intense and beautiful” than most people know,” and he also has the perfect actor in mind to play the title character — though he won’t reveal his choice. (Robert Redford played Gatsby in a 1974 movie widely seen as a dud.) “Casting is an intimate thing with me,” says Luhrmann. “Both participants have to believe in what they’re doing.”

Boyish at 48, with a neat head of silver hair and sincere brown eyes, Luhrmann is definitely the kind of guy who believes. He even manages to absorb the negative reviews that have come his way over the years. “I mean, if you’re not doing something that’s causing a stir, you’re not taking a dangerous leap into the future.” And he’s quick to note that critics occasionally change their minds, citing EW’s own Owen Gleiberman, who ranked Luhrmann’s 2001 movie musical Moulin Rouge! as one of the 10 best films of the last decade after initially dismissing it.

Mainstream audiences may be coming around to the Luhrmann aesthetic as well. Speaking this week at the New York Musical Theatre Festival to a crowd made up of Baz acolytes and Broadway hopefuls, Luhrmann called Glee “the most popular show in America” and declared that the days of regarding a Strictly Ballroom or Moulin Rouge! as unusual are over. “Musicals are not headlines anymore!”

Comments (15 total) Add your comment
  • dee

    Great Gatsby? I’m not sure how I feel about this. Part of me is intrigued, but the other part of me that loves the original is a little afraid. lol

  • bestreviewscenter

    wow, that will looks really cool.

  • Donna

    Maybe Adrian Grenier–Didn’t he “play” Gatsby in Entourage?? Seriously, not sure who would make a good modern-day Gatsby…hmmmm…?? Leo DiCaprio? I’m looking forward to it, and I know millions of high school English teachers are also excited.

  • Pan

    Another Great Gatsby? Nobody will be as great as Robert Redford. Give it up now.

  • Chichi

    I’m goin’gto skip The Great Gatsby. It is one of those books that I know will just not come alive on screen for me; the same happened with Revolutionary Road … couldn’t bring myself to see it.

    • Chris

      Revolustionary Road was very good. I think you should watch it.

  • ObiHave

    I’d rather see Moulin Rouge on stage and I’m intrigued by Gatsby. I actually think his visual style might capture some of the symbolism that has been lost in past productions. Will just have to see who he casts as Gatsby and who he sees as Daisy.

  • Kevin

    NOOOO!!!! Don’t let this HACK anywhere near my favorite book of all-time!! What’s next, Zack Snyder’s “Moby Dick”?

  • fernie

    Baz Luhrmann’s one of my favourite directors, so it’s great to hear what he’s up to. I would LOVE to see a stage version of Moulin Rouge (my fave movie) but I can see Strictly Ballroom being a real success, with its classic feel-good story & the current popularity of ballroom dancing. I saw his production of La Boheme on Broadway & it was amazing, I only hope that I can manage to see this too! Gatsby sounds like a completely new direction for him after the disappointing Australia, so will be exciting to see what he does with it.

  • MomC

    Actually, this really excites me. I love Strictly Ballroom and think the characters would be great on stage. I have never liked the first Gatsby movie. I just think it missed the mark. Would like to see what Luhrman does with it.

  • a person

    I hope they dont mess up Gatsby the two movie adaptions I saw were absolutely horrible! even my english teacher, whose class i watched it in, spent the majority of the movie making fun of both versions!!!

  • rebecca

    We need an amazing Great Gatsby movie. The only one i have seen was that terrible Robert Redford one.

  • Mack Teyemu

    As Gatsby? The pretty, cerebral Ryan Gossling. Done.

  • Stephanie T.

    Strictly Ballroom a musical? Hallelujah! I saw it again yesterday and it just keeps getting better. Baz Luhrman’s best work ever!

  • rr

    Baz needs to zip up his pants better, in the picture that is.

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