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Exclusive Feature
The Danny Boyle
Webchat Transcript

From the back streets of Edinburgh to the very empty streets of London, via the beaches of Southeast Asia, Danny Boyle's career behind the camera has taken him to some extreme locations with some very extreme characters. But the director has always managed to keep two feet firmly on planet Earth. With the release of his new sci-fi extravaganza Sunshine, that's all changed. Danny Boyle joined us here at Empire on 5 April 2007 for his exclusive live webchat where the readers of Empire had the chance to quiz him on his latest film and a whole host of other topics.

So, read on for the full transcript, in which Danny discusses his next project, his thoughts on Hot Fuzz, and what he really thinks of Michael Bay...

Rikkie: Danny, great to have you here. Let's face it, thinking about space a bit too much can make your head reaaally hurt. How many times whilst making the film did you yourself go through existential moments of "why am i here"?
Pretty much all the time really. Your head kind of pulses when you hear some of the facts about it. It loses five thousand million tonnes of mass every second. And yet it will burn for another four and a half billion years. You can't get your head around that - you just have to submit!

PDM: Was there ever a point when you considered actually setting the film 4.5 billion years in the future, or did that just seem to impossibly ambitious to imagine?
Good question! First time I've had that, very clever. Clever, but expensive!

Ross: Mainstream Hollywood big budget disaster movies have always made out the Americans to be the only supreme race that can resolve any of Earths problems - be it war or natural causes.
Yeah... Well, the Americans are always right, aren't they?

Ross: My question to you Mr. Boyle is during the start of the production of Sunshine did you make the decision to cast an international cast to break free of the predictable and lets face it the unlikely conclusion that only one nation can save Earth?
Yeah. In truth, in 50 years time, it will be entirely Asian. They will be leading the space race. Between India, China, Japan, Korea etc. But you have to have some Americans still in it, for the cinematic market I guess. But it was a chance to work with Michelle Yeoh, that was the real reason! The coolest Bond girl ever...

Sunshine was a chance to work with Michelle Yeoh, that was the real reason! The coolest Bond girl ever...
elasticfrog: Hi Mr Boyle (Danny if I may) I am a budding cinematographer and I have always been impressed with your experimentation with people like Darius Khondji and Anthony Dod Mantle and I was wondering how you approached Sunshine visually.
Great cinematographer, Alwin Kuchler, on this one. A real prince of darkness. My kind of eyes, really, on the movie. He had this amazing idea of keeping the interior of the spacecraft all grey, blue and green. No reference to orange, red, yellow. And then when you go outside the ship, you re-introduce yellow, having been starved of it for 20 minutes. We wanted the light to literally penetrate people's bodies.

gritman: directing a big budget sci-fi, where you scared that your film would be compared to the classic greats, or was your aim to be nestled nicely underneath them? Or where you aiming to produce a classic of your own?
I can't say that, but you can. There's a plateau that you have to approach, and on it perch 2001, Tarkovsky's Solaris, and Ridley Scott's Alien. Up to you to judge whether we get on it or not.

statostatostato: Hi Danny, Loved Sunshine (and really ALL your movies)-What was the inspiration for telling this story? Was it a case of yourself and Alex Garland developing it together?
Alex wrote the script and then we worked on it for a year together. Eventually 35 drafts were produced, but some of them were just correcting spelling mistakes. Some steps forward, some sideways, but you try to do all your experimenting in the script... Because it's the cheapest area you ever work in. Once you lock the script and start shooting you keep very faithful to it.

naomi: Hi Danny. Why do you keep working with Cillian (and I mean that in a good way)?
(Laughs) He's made some really good films since I've worked with him, and I was hoping some of it might rub off on me.

FameAsser: 28 Days Later brought about a new Era of Zom-flicks...I wanna know how 28 Weeks Later is shaping up. Are we going to be sat saying "its the same as Days but with American characters" or is there a whole new area of Zombification to explore in the new film?
It's got an amazing landcsape of a deserted London. Different from the first film because it'sshot by a Spanish director, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, and an Ecuadorean cameraman, Enrique Chadiak. And they bring an outsider's eye to the capital. The rest of it is so violent I don't know whether you'll ever be able to see it!

punchdrunk: Also you have a lot of badly made sci-fi made to compete against, how have you combated people's negative expectations of sci-fi genre when marketing the film?
You just try to invoke the great ones, really. And hope you get close to them. Audiences are very intolerant of small mistakes in sci-fi. And rightly so.

s02bf16c: Hello Danny, Its been reported that Sunshine was at times a pretty damn difficult shoot, will it be a while before you return to the Sci-Fi genre?
I will die before I return to sci-fi.

Rikkie: I'm really really looking forward to hearing the Underworld soundtrack, is there any news of an OST release for Sunshine? (By the way, give Rick and Karl a nudge to do some gigs in the UK.)
Rikkie, they're getting a new album ready right now and then they'll tour I guess. It was one of the big buzzes for me, getting them to do the soundtrack.

All I can say about Transformers is that I hope Michael Bay doesn't find himself near me when he's on fire.
gritman: you seem to be tackling each genre of film with great force, I'm interested to know if this is your intention to show your diversity as a director, and what area can we expect to see next?
Gritman, you don't see it like that until afterwards, when you start to publicise the films. But it's lovely to do different genres, because it involves long afternoons of research in front of the telly.

kevincolmcondon: If there was some sort of horrible parallel dimension where Danny Boyle wasn't a film maker, what would you think he'd be doing instead of making flicks?
Train-driver. I've always wanted to be a train-driver.

FameAsser: Danny, before Trainspotting, you directed a lot of TV projects. Is it something you would ever consider returning to, or does the bank balance suggest that movies are the only way to go?
No, I love TV. Apart from American Idol, what do I watch religiously...? (Thinks) I watch Hollyoaks over my daughter's shoulder... (Publicist requests that Danny withdraw this answer)

rhubarb: Danny, is there a chance you'll return to the Trainspotting world, by filming the sequel, Porno?
Oh yes. When the actors age sufficiently so they look a bit more shagged-out, we'll be waiting for them with the sequel.

dcox: Just come in late so apologies if anyone's already asked this, but are we ever going to see Alien Love Triangle? Or at least your section of it?
I'd love it to come out as a DVD extra, because it's only 25 minutes long. But the Weinsteins own it and it means doing a movie for them first, I think.

Michael J Dowswell: Hi Danny, hope you are well and have managed to get some sleep after directing Sunshine. Struggling (very struggling) filmmaker here in rural South West Scotland. Question: what is the single best piece of advice you would give to a struggling filmmaker?
Persistence. You'll need a lot of it. Pictures - collect them and distribute them to your crew. Trust the actors to get you out of a corner, where you will certainly find yourself.

Jack Bauer: I heard a funny rumour that people approached you for Transformers, is this true or just a big fat lie?
(Laughs) All I can say about Transformers is that I hope Michael Bay doesn't find himself near me when he's on fire.

chanting_ray: Our script has been universally loved. Problem is that the actors willing to attach, we're told aren't big enough, the actors big enough to bring finance, won't attach until we're fully financed! How can we break out of this chicken and egg scenario?
Lower your costs, chanting_ray. Lower your costs.

rhubarb: if you were on the ship to save the sun and could only take three films with you, which would they be?
Good question!! Wow... Apocalypse Now, as always. Don't Look Now. And Au Revoir, Les Enfants.

kevincolmcondon: What are you considering as your next project?
Slum Dog Millionaire. Written by Simon Beaufoy of Full Monty. Set in Mumbai, it's the true story of an illiterate slum kid who goes on the Hindi version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire and wins it. Like chanting_ray I'll have to keep the costs down.

gritman: On the Empire webchat with Neil Marshal, I asked what he thought of your film 28 Days Later. he said he loved the beginning, but not so much the rest. so what do you think of his big film The Descent? (ps he said you where a lovely man!)
I don't believe that. He must like the whole film - he virtually copied it for The Descent!

Benjamin Dover: Ok, If you were locked in a room, detoxing from herion, seeing babies in the ceiling, what 3 cds would you bring?
(Winces) This is sooo tough. Seriously, there's a great New Order song called Subculture, which is a forgotten, really great New Order track. (Thinks) I'll come back to the rest...

v for vienetta: Apologies for my lateness, been for a pub lunch. Danny, Shallow Grave's on tonight, will you be watching?
(Laughs) Where's it on? Oh, I know, there's some pillock introducing it, I think. Me!

elasticfrog: In your films I have loved the dark comedy, does comedy come natural to you and would you consider going further into the comedic direction? I think you could take Will Ferrell to the dark side - a womanising, elephant poacher maybe?
You're not allowed to mention Will Ferrell, as he opens this weekend in a movie as well. If you go to see his film, please buy a ticket for Sunshine and then just switch cinemas when the lights go down.

In Sunshine, I want people to literally journey to the sun. I think that's what only a movie can do. A mental and physical journey.
SSO-M: what do you want people to learn while watching Sunshine?
I want people to literally journey to the sun. I think that's what only a movie can do. Nothing else can give you that. A mental and physical journey.

tonywatkins: I'm most intrigued about whether the sun is a metaphor for something else, and therefore what you want the audience to come away with?
It's not really prescriptive in that way. It's about what's biggest in your own mind.

scudder: Hey Danny. Sunshine seem like the spiritual successor to Alien, but is there any film that you would actually be tempted to remake? Especially as this year's Oscar winner is a remake.
I've recently been offered Don't Look Now and The Man Who Fell To Earth. Two Nic Roeg films which I love - how could you ever consider remaking them?

thenextbenhersom: You're famous for being such a diverse filmmaker, what do you look for when you're choosing your next project?
Passion, exhilaration, a kind of buzz. The kind of buzz I got from watching Apocalypto. Barking mad but brilliant.

lane11011: You mentioned your next project 'Slum Dog Millionaire'. It struck me as a similar premise to your film 'Millions'. Is the thought of a kid winning lots of money one you dreamt about yourself as a kid or do you just like the idea?
I love making films about money, that goes without saying! Godard said all you need to make a film is a girl and a gun. I think the British equivalent is a girl and a bag of money, because we don't have guns!

EchteG: Danny, there's a Golden Globe nominated Hungarian movie called Sunshine directed by Istvan Szabo. Did you see it?
We had a lot of problems securing the title because Hollywood Studios have an agreement not to duplicate titles, so ther'es no confusion in the DVD shop. The real reason is they wanted a different title, like Solar Earth Mission. Or Endeavour Enterprise. But we loved Sunshine.

Jay: Danny, as a keen and geeky reader / game-player, I was wondering if there's anything else you're interesting in adapting to film? And yes, Sub-Culture is fantastic.
Alex Garland is the game-player. I'm more music really. I'd like to make a film about The Undertones.

jigs: If you could sit on another director's set for learning purposes, who's would it be?
Ken Loach. In fact, Krzysztof Kieslowski said that he would kneel on a Ken Loach set.

Cloudinsane: So, Danny - why do you freeze frames during intense and heightened scenes in your films?
In Sunshine it's because time and space are distorting. In the other films it's because it's cool.

Robyn: Have you ever (like some other stars have admitted to) 'Googled' yourself? or looked yourself up on Imdb....especially since they've introduced the STARmeter bit?
When my daughter's not watching Hollyoaks, she's Googling me, so I watch over her shoulder then as well.

Mr Phil: Talking of space, have you ever been on a donkey ride on Blackpool beach?
Many, many times.

kevincolmcondon: It seems the earth and its mother is trying to cash in on the superhero genre, have you ever considered joining that exclusive club that includes Bryan Singer, Richard Donner and Tim Burton?
I think there was something in the Empire review about directing a superhero film! I'm not really a comic-book person. I'm more music.

jigs: Have you any interest in directing the third installment of Kieslowski's Heaven, Hell, Purgatory trilogy?
No but I'd love to put The Double Life Of Veronique on my CV.

I think the deserted London idea could be expanded for TV... There are endless possibilities with it as a backdrop.
Benjamin Dover: Danny, what kind of budget does one need to make a Zombie film like 28 Days Later? And how many litres of fake blood does one need?
It's not a zombie film - how many times do we have to say?!

tonywatkins: What is it you particularly admire about Loach? Would you film in a strictly chronological way like him?
Perfomances. Chronological shooting. No bullshit. And only he, along with David Bowie, has turned down one of those ridiculous awards from the Queen.

Donnie24: Would you like to work with Cillian or Ewan again or do you not belive in repeating actor director partnerships e.g Depp and Burton, De Niro and Scorcese?
Both great actors. Would love to do something with them when we find something right.

Aaron: The soundtracks, particularly in Shallow Grave and Trainspotting, really made the films for me and are an unforgettable part of the experience. Do you personally choose the tracks for your films, and for orchestral stuff, who is your favourite composer?
Yeah, I choose all the music. And I upset composers by replacing their stuff with pop songs. John Murphy is my favourite, as he used to play backing musician in Frankie Goes To Hollywood.

EchteG: What's your favourite scene from Sunshine?
There's a great scene where they vote on killing a member of the crew to save oxygen. Very simple, the best scene Alex Garland has ever written, and when they're that good they shoot themselves.

PDM says: What exactly is your role in Dead On: The Life and Cinema of George A. Romero, are you interviewed only or have you any larger part in the making of the film?
Quick interview, that's all.

s02bf16c: Have you asked Empire what happened to your other star yet??!
The office went very quiet. They're ashamed of themselves and so they should be.

Jay: What would you call the 'monsters' in 28 Days Later? Recently, in a large lecture theatre, I scorned a girl for calling them zombies. I listed all the reasons why they aren't zombies, but the best I could come up with was 'infected people'.
We call them "the infected". They were actually cast from an agency in East London that specialises in retired athletes. People who are very fit still but can no longer compete. That's why they're so terrifying when they're running at you...rather than ambling towards you.

anton: Speaking of musician, Danny, have you ever approached a favourite of yours to make his next video?
I've only ever done one video, for Iggy Pop, to promote Trainspotting. I hired 50 people of different ages from 5 to 70, all wearing only his black leather trousers and dancing behind him while he performed the song. It was an act of love, but I think he thought I was taking the piss.

lane11011: I noticed in the trailer for 28 Weeks later that Robert Carlyle stars in it. Was this a choice personally made by you or just a coincidence as you have worked with him numerous times in the past?
I recommended him to Juan Carlos, and he showed great taste in casting him. He gives a blinding performance - literally.

Benjamin Dover: Danny, What are your thoughts on a Norwegian Zombie movie, with blizzards and snow. The plot is Russian genetically modified Zombies coming to eat us, and of course, blood splattered in snow follows! Do you thing it's a possible hit?
If you're planning to make this or convincing someone else to do it for you, watch the John Carpenter version of The Thing before you begin. That wilderness is a great place for a horror film.

gritman: what are your opinions on trailers showing too much of the movie? Do you have any input into the editing of them? Have we seen all the good bits from Sunshine or are there plenty more to come?
There are so many good bits in Sunshine, even the Americans couldn't cram them all into a trailer.

danbo12: Danny when you said that its easy to get lost when you've made a hit in the movie business - what did you mean by this?
Nobody tells you the truth anymore. Everybody thinks everything you say is genius. Or that's the impression they give.

James Dyer: Genius answer.

I loved Hot Fuzz. Seriously underrated acting from Nick and Simon, really well acted.
SimonK: Follow-up to the Loach question above. Who do you rate amongst your peers, ie young British filmmakers?
I loved London To Brighton, by Paul Andrew Williams. And Andrea Arnold. They are two of the newest, brightest suspects.

tonywatkins: Which of your films gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction?
Today it has to be Sunshine.

jigs: Do epic, multi-film stories, or franchises, interest you or do you prefer more contained films?
Not franchises so much. But multi-stranded stories are good, I think.

lane11011: Would you ever consider directing a Harry Potter film, maybe the last one? I hear M. Night Shyamalan would like to do it.
Not really my cup of tea.

EchteG: How did you find Hiroyuki Sanada? I really like him since his '80s ninja movies.
I saw him in Twilight Samurai, in which he's fantastic. He was recommended by Wong Kar-Wai when we were looking for an Asian captain for the ship.

Aaron: With the recent surge in popularity of the 'zombie' sub-genre, do you think there's scope for a TV series based on the world of 28 Days/Weeks?
I think the deserted London idea could be expanded... There are endless possibilities with it as a backdrop.

gritman: was going into zero gravity worth the money then? how did it make your stomach feel?
They give you an anti-nausea pill, but it didn't seem to work with the producer, Andrew Macdonald. He felt like he was in a Michael Bay movie.

rhubarb: Who would win in a fight between a Grizzly Bear and a Lion?
Rhubarb, please watch Grizzly Man.

Benjamin Dover: Danny: Any tips on dating? should I take her to see Sunshine?
Yes. Take a number of girls on different nights.

HelenOHara: How is Ponte Tower coming along?
Nothing yet, Helen. A bit of an overexcited press release - it got ahead of itself.

WillSun: What did you think of Shaun of the Dead?
WillSin, I love it. And I loved Hot Fuzz. I met them coming out of a radio studio in Sydney, Australia. I was going in to promote Sunshine and they were on their world tour for Hot Fuzz. Seriously underrated acting from Nick and Simon, really well acted.

Anton: Danny: what's your best joke?
Okay. It's a Gordon Strachan one, famous because of Trainspotting obviously. As he comes out of the dressing room, the press gang press forward, shouting, "Gordon, give us a quick word!" He stops, says, "Velocity" and walks away...

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