|Carey Mulligan and Leo DiCaprio in The Great Gatsby|
Carey, 27, was one of many actresses, including Keira Knightley, Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, who were vying for the role in Baz Lurhmann's sumptuous, $125 million remake of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel.
"It was in a loft somewhere in New York and usually auditions are just a camera, you and the casting director or whatever," she told me when we talked at New York's Plaza Hotel the other day. "This was at least three cameras---one 3-D camera, one guy walking around with a camera and Baz had a hand-held camera. Then were were two photographers taking pictures of the whole process and I instantly hated everything I was wearing.
"I was like, why am I here? It was really scary. Then we started playing scenes and Leo (DiCaprio) was playing Gatsby but he was also playing Tom Buchanan because although we had all those cameras we had no other actors so he'd be sitting down being Gatsby and then he'd jump up and stand behind the camera and be Tom and it was amazing.
"We did a scene where Daisy drops her lighter and she is panicking and he picked up the lighter and lit my cigarette and improvised as Gatsby, saying all these things to me under his breath like, 'Daisy, I love you' and 'Daisy calm down" and he helped me so much.
"We spent about an hour-and-a-half together auditioning and I loved it and I walked out thinking, 'If nothing else ever happens I've acted with Leonardo DiCaprio.
" And then Baz called me that evening and asked me to come back in the following morning to do more of a screen test."
As Daisy, Carey is following in the footsteps of Mia Farrow who co-starred with Robert Redford in a 1974 version and Betty Field, who appeared with Alan Ladd in 1949. Mira Sorvino co-starred in a 2000 TV version opposite Toby Stephens.