Exclusive: Jay-Z And Baz Luhrmann Talk Musical Inspiration Behind ‘Great Gatsby’

'I like to think of it as a character,' Jay says of the throughly modern music in Baz Luhrmann's bold new film.

Baz Luhrmann raised eyebrows last year when he released a trailer for “The Great Gatsby” that eschewed Jazz-Age standards in favor of, well, Jay-Z.

Of course, in the months since, fans of the book — and HOV — have come to understand why Luhrmann made the musical choices he did; namely, to prove a point: that the songs of the Jazz Age aren’t all that different from the songs of the hip-hop era. And he wasn’t the only one who bought into that premise, either.

“Jazz was this almost underground music at the time, like hip-hop started out. I like to think of it as a character, because it’s so interwoven into the storyline,” Jay-Z said. “[He's] seamlessly shifting different eras of music together, which I thought was genius process. That’s one of the things Baz has a reputation for: Treating the music like another star.”

And so, as he’s done on all of his iconic films, Luhrmann has assembled a scintillating soundtrack for “Gatsby,” one that includes a who’s-who of today’s stars — Jay-Z, Beyonce and Andre 3000, Florence and the Machine, will.i.am, to name just a few — bringing the Jazz Age to the 21st century. He worked closely with Jay-Z on the project, bringing an idea that began during the recording of Watch The Throne full circle.

“Baz and Leo [DiCaprio, who plays Gatsby in the film] came to a recording session, and I was working on a song called ‘No Church in the Wild,’” Jay-Z said. “We just talked about the art of collaborating. I guess that was the seed of the idea.”

And the end result is a bold update on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s classic story … on that only a director like Luhrmann could make; and one that, hopefully, will engage moviegoers in 2013 in much the same way the book has been enthralling readers for nearly 100 years.

“As much as Baz is a great filmmaker, he is a fanatic about music as well,” DiCaprio said. “I love how infusing hip hop makes you understand the cultural references, what it would be like if these people existed today.”

Check out everything we’ve got on “The Great Gatsby.”