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Baz Luhrmann Talks Unreleased Prince Song, Upcoming Netflix Series at Tribeca Panel

Baz Luhrmann Talks Unreleased Prince Song,
Marion Curtis/StarPix/REX/Shutterstock

Baz Luhrmann took part in an enlightening Q&A during the Tribeca Film Festival with Nelson George, a historian who helped write and produce the Luhrmann-directed Netflix series “The Get Down.”

The two teased the show, set for release on August 12, discussed Luhrmann’s directorial style (“like a DJ or an MC”) and reflected on the director’s connection to Prince, beyond including a cover of “When Doves Cry” on his “Romeo and Juliet” soundtrack.

Luhrmann said his most memorable moment with Prince was working on a song for “The Great Gatsby” that never came to fruition. “It was a reimagined version of a song he did with Martika called ‘Thy Will Be Done.’ And we did work on it, in fact we worked on it a lot,” the director said. “It was a co-owned piece and [Prince] couldn’t quite get it released. And at that stage I had to make another decision.” Lana Del Rey’s “Young and Beautiful” ended up filling the slot.

On a lighter note, George made Luhrmann blush by bringing up his childhood “radio station” that he started with a thrown away record player and three disks. “I’m never telling you anything again,” Luhrmann joked. “I trusted you.” But, still, the director went on with the adorable anecdote. “Eventually I got my little brother to break up the program, and come in to read the paper about sports.”

But Luhrmann apparently still gets in touch with his record-spinning days when he’s on set directing one of his signature party scenes. As George described it, “It’s like he’s a DJ or an MC at a party at his own shoot.”

Luhrmann explained his process by saying that he doesn’t want the extras to be timid around stars like, in “The Great Gatsby,” Leonardo DiCaprio. “I want them to go up and touch him and grab him and really be visceral in the scene.” He added, “If I can kind of be foolish and fearless, then the actor in the tiniest role, down in the back holding the tinsel, they can be fearless and foolish.”

Finally, Luhrmann and George discussed their collaboration on “The Get Down,” set in the Bronx in the late 1970s. “In this borough that was on its knees how did so much creativity come out of it, and how did it come out of it to go on and not only change the city, but the entire world?” The director pondered. “That’s the question that drew me in. Not ‘let’s do the history of hip hop.’ If anything it’s the pre-history.”

Luhrmann and George said they explored the Bronx to map out the series. They also brought on many important hip hop figures on as producers and consultants including Grandmaster Flash and Nas. Luhrmann called the latter a “huge creative force” in the production.