Truman Capote’s Impact: The Great Gatsby Screenplay

  • Capote’s unique presence in film, TV, and pop culture
  • The challenges and conflicts surrounding the production of ‘The Great Gatsby’
  • The unconventional approach Capote took with the screenplay
  • The aftermath and impact on the film’s casting and box office performance


Truman Capote, the once hottest writer in town, was known for his brilliant storytelling and larger-than-life personality. However, his self-destructive tendencies often overshadowed his talent. One particular instance of Capote’s tumultuous career was when he was hired to write the screenplay for ‘The Great Gatsby.’ This decision would have far-reaching consequences for both Capote and the film production.

Capote’s Unique Presence in Film, TV, and Pop Culture

In his prime, Truman Capote was a force to be reckoned with in the entertainment industry. His best-selling book, ‘In Cold Blood,’ revolutionized the crime writing genre, while his novella, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s,’ became a beloved film. Capote’s influence extended beyond literature, as he made appearances on popular TV shows like CBS This Morning and Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. His star-studded Black and White Ball in 1966 redefined celebrity events, blurring the lines between New York socialites and Hollywood stars.

The Challenges and Conflicts Surrounding the Production of ‘The Great Gatsby’

When the opportunity arose for Capote to write the screenplay for ‘The Great Gatsby,’ he saw it as a chance to create a glamorous and suspenseful film that captured the essence of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel. However, the project faced numerous hurdles from the start. The producer, David Merrick, had limited film experience but strong opinions, while the leading man role was still undecided. Robert Evans, Paramount’s chief of production, had discussions with both Robert Redford and Warren Beatty for the role of Jay Gatsby.

The Unconventional Approach Capote Took with the Screenplay

During this tumultuous time, I had the opportunity to witness Capote’s unconventional approach to writing the screenplay. Instead of rewriting Fitzgerald’s work, Capote simply retyped several chapters of the novel, reformatting them for dialogue and staging. When confronted about his method, Capote defended his decision, stating that he couldn’t improve upon Fitzgerald’s brilliance. Despite the unconventional nature of his work, Capote still expected payment for his “typing job.”

The Aftermath and Impact on the Film’s Casting and Box Office Performance

After Capote’s submission, the news reached Robert Redford, who had initially declined the role of Gatsby. Upon learning of Capote’s involvement, Redford had a change of heart and decided to take on the role. However, the film adaptation of ‘The Great Gatsby’ ultimately disappointed at the box office.


Truman Capote’s involvement in the production of ‘The Great Gatsby’ showcased both his brilliance and self-destructive tendencies. His unconventional approach to the screenplay left an indelible mark on the film’s casting and box office performance. Despite the challenges and conflicts surrounding the project, Capote’s impact on the entertainment industry and popular culture remains undeniable.

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