Casting 'The Great Gatsby': Who Should Play Tom Buchanan?

Ben Affleck won't be playing the role in Baz Luhrmann's adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's novel. Who should instead?



Ben Affleck won't be moving to East Egg.

Affleck was rumored to have been in talks to play Tom Buchanan in director Baz Luhrmann's screen version of The Great Gatsby, but reportedly had to back out due to a scheduling conflict.

That's great news for film fans—not because Affleck wouldn't have done well playing Daisy's philandering husband, but simply because it's crazy fun to speculate about casting a major motion picture. Just as your average football fan loves nothing more than pretending to be a NFL general manager—witness the upcoming umpteen hours of draft coverage—there's nothing film buffs love more than pretending to cast a big movie.

The already gaudy Gatsby cast features Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, Carey Mulligan as his Daisy, and Tobey Maguire playing Nick Carraway. Ilsa Fisher is maybe, probably, possibly going to play Tom's mistress, Myrtle Wilson. Or is it Jenna Fischer?

It's hard to know, exactly. Luhrmann has been dazzlingly circumspect about the project, kindly but categorically refusing to confirm or deny a thing about the film, beyond that he's making it. At the very least, the mere fact that a large role like Tom Buchanan remains uncast suggests that the smaller role of "Owl Eyes"—a role for which yours truly has been publicly campaigning—is also yet to be decided. Sweet.

So who should play Tom now that Affleck is out of the running?

Bradley Cooper is actively promoting himself for the part of Buchanan, and it's not going well. He went so far in a recent New York Times interview as to call Tom the "best character in the book," which is just silly, and it's precisely that unctuous willingness to self-promote and pander that makes him unfit for the role.

Tom is the very picture of patrician arrogance, with a vast sense of entitlement all the more galling for being so totally unconscious. As Ann Richards once said of George W. Bush, Tom is like the man who was born standing on third base but thinks he hit a triple. Cooper is too fidgety and too eager to please for the role. He seems to know this too, joking in the Times interview that lobbying for the part would probably scuttle his chances for getting it. Which, in fact, it will.

A pair of Brits, Jude Law and Orlando Bloom might be better fits. Both have the poise and star power to play Tom. Then again, both lack the intimidating physical presence Buchanan needs. Tom is an athlete—a polo player, and "one of the most powerful ends" to ever play football at Yale. This is a man, after all, described by Daisy as a "great, big, hulking physical specimen."

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Hampton Stevens is a writer based in Kansas City, Missouri. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, ESPN the Magazine, Playboy, Gawker, Maxim, and many more publications.

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