We don’t get to see many female athletes in films. Hollywood occasionally throws us a superhero or Bond Girl bone, but these amped-up stereotypes rarely resemble the real deal. So it is with great refreshment that 22-year-old Aussie stunner Elizabeth Debicki enters mainstream cinema with a set of clubs. Debicki appears later this year in director Baz Luhrmann‘s highly anticipated new adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby as Jordan Baker: modern woman, Nick Carraway’s “incurably dishonest” love interest, and, of course, professional golfer. Baker is one of the great jocks of American letters (though also a cheater and a reckless driver). But while Debicki may not have Baker’s cutthroat competitive streak (although she took golfing lessons to master her perfect swing), she did relish the character’s fierce independence. “You have to have that to pursue acting,” she says. “Because there’s no one to hold your hand to do it.” Luhrmann cast the largely unknown actress alongside A-list company such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Carey Mulligan. But like a seasoned pro, Debicki took her audition with the Australian director in stride. “He’s so full of art and creativity,” she says. “Somehow that energy in him sort of overpowered the nervous energy in me.” Making a timeless character her own is part of the fun for Debicki, and even if she hasn’t had much previous experience on film, she certainly made memorable choices while studying her craft in college. Debicki fondly recalls that while playing Beatrice in a drama school production of Much Ado About Nothing, she persuaded the director to let her wear Rollerblades for a major portion of the play.
While her turn in Gatsby may very well open Hollywood’s gilded doors, Debicki is unfazed by the stardom and status that so many young actors aspire to. “It doesn’t really appeal to me very much,” she says. “When I went to school, it was all very idealistic. It was all just about making art and making theater. When I did my first film, I was like, ‘Oh my god. Is this actually a job? ‘Cause this is what I would like to do for pleasure.’ ”
PHOTO: ELIZABETH DEBICKI IN LOS ANGELES, MAY 2012. COAT: BELSTAFF. COSMETICS: KOH GEN DO COSMETICS, INCLUDING AQUA FOUNDATION IN OC-1 AND MAIFANSHI LIPSTICK IN FRESH PINK. HAIR PRODUCTS: SACHAJUAN, INCLUDING STRAIGHT AND SHINE SPRAY. STYLING: RYAN HASTINGS. HAIR: ROB TALTY FOR SACHAJUAN/THE MAGNET AGENCY. MAKEUP: MELANIE INGLESSIS FOR KOH GEN DO COSMETICS/THE MAGNET AGENCY. SPECIAL THANKS: THE ROOFTOP AT SIREN STUDIOS,LOS ANGELES,AND JOANN GAMBINO.