The television adaption, loosely based on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s last book of the same name, brought out stars Matt Bomer, Kelsey Grammer, and Lily Collins, along with director and creator Billy Ray, to tell a story set in 1936 Hollywood.
“The Last Tycoon” chronicles the narrative of Bomer’s Monroe Stahr, a dapper studio executive who battles his boss and mentor, Pat Brady (Grammer), for the soul of the studio. Grammer says his character is a self-made mogul and “the epitome of the American Dream.” The hostile world depicted in the series almost parallels the current atmosphere, he noted.
“The glitz and the glamour are still attractive and alluring, but the underbelly of it all, accomplishment, has a shabby childhood usually,” Grammer told Variety. “It’s something we all have to face. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong, it doesn’t mean it’s sad. It just means it’s the way it goes.”
Even though there are striking similarities between the show’s 1930s influences and the industry’s current climate, Bomer pointed out some differences. “As nice as it is to have freedom from the studio system, there was something great about [the control] because you were covered from all angles from the studio,” Bomer said. “They had your public image, they took care of your wardrobe, they took care of all your movies. I just don’t want to do 50 movies a year.”
According to Ray (“Captain Phillips,” “The Hunger Games”), the plot examines the question, “What does it cost you to leave an essential part of yourself behind to turn into this character?” referencing Stahr reinventing himself after being born Milton Sternberg. Ray hinted, “We’re infusing it with as much beauty and glamour and drama and soap opera and danger and violence as we can.”
Fitzgerald’s unfinished and posthumously published book wasn’t a burden to tackle, Ray said, but rather an opportunity. “Fitzgerald unfortunately died halfway through and left a bunch of possibilities that he wasn’t sure he was going to do. We get to finish the book for him,” he said.
After the screening, the cast gathered at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in West Hollywood, which was decorated with props from the set and completed with speciality cocktails — including The Fitzgerald, Golden Boy, and The Starlet — toasting the show’s setting.
The first season streams Friday on Amazon.