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Perhaps not since Sid Vicious has someone been able to veer so effortlessly between heroin, the Queen of England and upending artistic expectations in one conversation.
Danny Boyle was in New York on Tuesday night to premiere his latest film, the frenetic neo-noir/psychological caper Trance. The movie stars James McAvoy as an erstwhile art thief working for a gangster (Vincent Cassel) and — after a major head injury — under the care of a hypnotist (Rosario Dawson) who must enter his brain to figure out where, exactly, he stashed a valuable stolen painting before sustaining the blow to his brain. But like this film, which leaps from one buzzing frame to the next, Boyle’s career is so filled with twists and turns, any discussion with the Oscar-winning filmmaker seems to cover a whole range of topics.
The Hollywood Reporter spoke at the premiere with Boyle, not just about Trance, but also rumors of a Trainspotting sequel, his declaration that he won’t do a James Bond film, and hanging out with the Queen of England.
The Hollywood Reporter: We’ve heard a lot about a Trainspotting sequel 20 years later, and I know there’s an Irvine Welsh book, Porno, on which it could be based. So how much would that sequel be based on the book, and how much would it change?
Boyle: But the original movie is inspired by the original book, I wouldn’t say it’s a direct adaptation, and I think we’ll bring the same idea to Porno. The vision comes from Irvine as a writer, and this gallery of characters, and then we live the screenwriter, John Hodge hopefully, with the freedom to explore that. And then we try to develop a script that’s good enough to attract those actors to come back and do those characters again.
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THR: Did you imagine at the time, or ever have conversations, once you made the movie, where Renton and Sick Boy and the characters would all end up?
Boyle: No, it was such an extreme movie to do, the way we did it, that you could never imagine that it would do enough business to even merit a sequel, which it clearly could have had already. But we didn’t want to cash in and make a pale version of it as a sequel, we wanted to try to do something that had its own integrity.
THR: So you think Ewan MacGregor and those guys would be up for it?
Boyle: We’ll approach all the actors at the same time, in the same way. Because that was the way we did the original, and we’ll try to do that as well with this.
THR: I know you don’t want to do a James Bond film — too big a budget, etc — but if you could do one your way, on a small budget, full creative freedom, what would a Danny Boyle-made James Bond film look like?
Boyle: I’ve already done one. You’ve seen it. Stellar cast as well. But I’m not really the guy for those movies. What we do, right, is we use genre — you take a genre, like this has got a few genres running in it, you use a genre to try and get you in the mainstream. It’s a vehicle to boost you into the mainstream. And then you f— with the genre. You twist it and change it and move it around. You can’t do it on those big movies. You genuflect in front of them. Too much money, too expectation. It’s the faith of the fans, it’s all that. You’ve got to be very careful. It’s very tempting of course — I love the movies, I love the books, but I’m not the right guy for those.
THR: How did the Queen’s part in the Olympics Opening Ceremony come about? The process to make that happen must have been quite difficult.
Boyle: We wrote to them. We sent them a script. It’s like approaching Vincent Cassel; we sent him a script. We were expecting, to be absolutely honest, we thought we’d get a “no,” it’s not going to work. We sent them the script and said, “We’d like to find a double — or Helen Mirren or something,” and they wrote back and said, “No, we’d like to do it, and she would like to play herself in it.” Which is quite the surreal thing to read.
THR: So what’s she like?
Boyle: She’s great. She’s very smart, sharp for a woman of her age, very sharp. I hope I’m as sharp when I get to her age. Physically, very fit as well. The room we did it in, it’s the room where she meets the prime ministers, it’s a very presentational room. But the room next door, where I went in to meet her, is her living quarters. Which is just like anybody’s living quarters. Tea trays and newspapers and stuff, just thrown around. And he said, “I’ve just been at the dentist all morning, so I’m not in a very good mood. What do you want?”
THR: Yeah, I can’t imagine how you make small talk with the Queen.
Boyle: Well she chatted away to Daniel Craig, they got along very well. It was good.
THR: Vincent Cassel was saying that he tried to go under hypnotherapy, but it didn’t work, he’s not vulnerable. Even more than organized crime, the element of Trance that scares me most is the idea of someone going into my brain.
Boyle: Clearly he’s not, or James. They had a session, and it was very kind of sleepy and nice. Nothing really emerged. I think Rosario did some private stuff on her own. She remained in control of that; she came back and told us about that, we didn’t witness it, so we don’t know what went on there, which is her way of remaining some type of control. I’d be terrified, if I did go under, what I would say in front of these guys… You’d be terrified of thinking who else you thought about casting! Directors are control freaks really. But I agree, the idea that somebody can go in there, literally like an incision in there, and can replace something — it’s clearly impossible, clinically, I’m afraid. It’s highly unethical and quite rare, but it is possible.
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