December 03, 2010 at 07:56 PM EST

Image Credit: Chatting with Baz Luhrmann, who’s currently promoting the Strictly Ballroom: Special Edition DVD that features new interviews detailing his first feature’s storied journey from drama school stage production to the big screen (more on that in Inside Movies Monday), there’s always more than one project to discuss. At this moment, he’s spending his afternoons in Australia working to return Strictly Ballroom to the stage, and his mornings casting Jordan Baker for his upcoming film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. “I’m so thrilled about Carey Mulligan [who’s been cast as Daisy]. She’s just fantastic, and now one has to match Jordan. They’re a couple in a sense. They reflect two completely different sides of a coin. And so the role of Jordan has to be as thoroughly examined as Daisy, for this production, for this time,” he tells EW. “It’s like Olivier’s Hamlet was the right Hamlet for his time. Who would Hamlet be today? Same with a Jordan or a Daisy” He doesn’t yet have a short list. “I’m seeing everyone,” he says. “What’s crucial about Jordan is that she is incurably dishonest, to quote Fitzgerald. She’s dishonest on an internal level, and she has an inability for self-realization. She’s a dangerous driver, to quote Fitzgerald again. And in the simple language, I think Jordan is also what, at the time, you might have referred to as a Long Island flapper, and now you might refer to them as a Hamptons flapper. That just means not a bohemian flapper that’s living the Village, but someone who’s attaching themselves to the fashionable aspects of flapperdom…. I don’t take it lightly at all. It’s my obsession at the moment. The connectivity between buying into, in a fashion sense, this new movement — a new liberation of women, a new sensibility, a youth that was absolutely drunk on money and possibility, the first ever American youth that was completely youthful — that is a thrilling subject.”

Luhrmann knows people are curious about his vision for the film, and to answer some of their questions, he plans on listing all of the books he’s reading as research on his website,, by Friday, Dec. 10. He likes the idea of an informed Internet community, something he’d have loved growing up with as a film fan. “I was once a fan, and I used that fantastic word ‘they.’ ‘Why don’t they?’ ‘Didn’t they?’ ‘Don’t they?’ Having spent at least two years full-time on [Gatsby], I probably have read [most every] book. But maybe not. That’s why I think engagement with an audience is great. I am fascinated about genuine audience participation because I grew up in the theater, and that’s a really healthy thing. A lot of it is just noise, and then occasionally, you see patterns and you think, ‘There’s a truth in that.’ Some creative person like Shakespeare had to face them every day. No play by Shakespeare did not continually evolve because of an engagement with audiences. There was continual evolution. The plays were never written down until he was dead…. I think to myself, well look, this [list] is what we’ve read. Go read that, and help me. If you want to have a point of view, get informed, then be helpful. Let’s try and make the best interpretation [for today]. It’s not the definitive one. I mean, my Romeo + Juliet will be superseded by some interesting young creative person who’ll come along and do another one. [These stories are] there to be interpreted specifically to a time and place. The thing about classic art is it moves through time and geography, but it’s how you shake off the rust and re-reveal it.”

Read more:

Baz Luhrmann workshops ‘Great Gatsby’ script with Leo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Rebecca Hall

Who should play Daisy?

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