As Slumdog Millionaire nears release, director Danny Boyle came in for an exclusive webchat with Empire readers. Boyle is the man behind Trainspotting, 28 Days Later, Sunshine, and now the excellent Mumbai-set story of a young man’s quest to win a TV game show and also the love of his life, but he faced the toughest challenge yet: answering the searing, insightful questions of Empire’s readers. Keep going to find out the important information, like which he prefers: Speedos or shorts…
Ruffcut asks: How close did you come to directing Alien 4?
Oh my God, that one. Very close actually. In fact I met Sigourney and Winona, which was a great pleasure. Had chips – French fries I should say – with Winona. But I backed out of it. I was terrified of the special effects.
|Bits of Slumdog are quite dark early on. It's not quite the feelgood movie of the decade all the way through.|
Film Brain asks: What was it like to make something like Slumdog Millionaire after the rather dark Sunshine?
Bits of Slumdog are quite dark early on. It's not quite the feelgood movie of the decade all the way through. But the contrast between the isolation of outer space and the 21+ million inhabitants of Mumbai was welcome.
Beast asks: Hi Danny! Big Fan! Do you have any say on the music that goes into your films? Because every soundtrack is amazing!! Notably 8-Ball by Underworld from The Beach! Awesome
Thanks. That's one of my favourite Underworld tracks, a beauriful track. I'm always amazed that people ask that question. As if a director not having total say on it could be imaginable. It's critical for me. Music is more important than anything in a way. Music is the final effect you have on the film before it goes out.
Scottycent1234 asks: A lot of your films have characters gaining money in unorthodox ways. Is that something that appeals to you?
Yes, very much so. We did a screening of Slumdog in front of a Hindi audience and one guy said he was shocked at young Indian men being portrayed as thieves. I had to say that ALL my characters are portrayed as thieves!
Jelly Tot asks: What was it like filming in Mumbai?
Oh my God. A lot of people said it was going to be very difficult and frustrating. And I think if you go there thinking that, it is. But the 21+ million people give you the chance to do something different. And if you think of it like that, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity.
Kinema asks: I recently read that you once considered becoming a priest. Slumdog feels actually immensely spiritual. It feels like Slumdog addresses choices of good and evil and has a message that everyone is actually trying hard to fight evil.
Yeah, that's right. Although the characters are thieves, they are also good people. And the redemption at the end of the film is a victory for thieves who are good people. Jamal steals the money from Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and his brother delivers him the freedom to enjoy it with his girl.
ProfessorAntzenPantzen asks: Is it true that Slumdog Millionaire was almost a straight-to-DVD release?
Yes, but not intentionally. They closed Warner Independent, so the prospect of a DVD-only release looked real, until Fox Searchlight stepped in and said, "America's going to love a film release a third of which is in Hindi."
brent71195 asks: Any plans for the Judge Dredd movie Danny? Are you a fan or is it just something that interests you?
Where has this come from? Someone asked me about Judge Dredd the other day! Well... ha! I hated the last version of it; I can't imagine the next one will be any better.
SamuelP asks: You mentioned in Empire that you liked A Long Way Round. Could you be tempted into going on a motorcycle adventure?
Yeah, I've only ridden a motorcycle once. That was in Thailand and I fell off. That was probably what happened to the film as well.
RuffKut asks: What happened at the end of the first Inspector Morse you directed? I missed the last 10 minutes...
(Laughs) Don't worry, Inspector Morse solved the problem. Like in all the other episodes.
Berrynice asks: They say never work with children or animals but you seem to get stunning performances from your child stars. Had the Slumdog kids acted before?
No, they hadn't. A lot of the kids we met were very comfortable with acting. Cinema in Mumbai is as natural and important as breathing. So you can't take any credit except for uncovering this kind of talent.
murraylicious asks: Who would be your phone-a-friend?
(Laughs) The screenwriter.
ivarletap asks: How close do you think your adaption of the movie Slumdog Millionaire is to the book Q & A? Was this something you wanted to stay true to or make your own?
It's very different. Simon Beaufoy (The Full Monty) hijacked the central concept – a slum kid goes on the big game show – and ran with it in his own way. So the love story was invented, to become the real spine of the film, rather than the show being the spine, as it is in the novel.
thebestnameshavegone asks: Is there any news regarding Terry Pratchett's Bromeliad Trilogy which you were mooted to be involved with?
Oh God, yeah. It's fallen apart. Frank Cotrell Boyce (Millions) and I were going to do it for DreamWorks but sadly no longer. Sorry about that – wonderful novel(s).
the kevmiester asks: What impact do you think Slumdog will have on the Hindi film industry?
Interesting. There's a real consciousness about Hollywood in Bollywood, and coming soon is the opportunity to cross over the two industries. Someone will take advantage of that. So change is in the air.
clooney's_tux asks: I absolutely loved Strumpet and Vacuuming – any chance you might be working on something in Manchester again?
I always work in Manchester. And my retirement project is 365 days in the life of Bury football club.
|Yeah, we've got a good idea for the third '28 Days' movie. Very strange.|
Adam G asks: In Sunshine, the crew of Icarus 2 is multicultural, yet most, if not all, of them seem to speak in American accents, including fellow New Zealander Cliff Curtis and Australian Rose Byrne. Was there a particular reason for this?
Scottycent1234 asks: Dev Patel is a bronze medalist in taekwondo; how about working with him again but in an action flick?
Opportunities will come his way. There is a picture of him leaping about eight feet in the air, above head height, doing one of his moves. I wasn't in the way, fortunately.
Beetlejuice asks: How often do you re-visit your own films, or are you one of these artists that never watch their own work?
I watch bits of them over my daughter's shoulder.
djimi42 asks: What is the future of the 28 Days franchise? Is there any possibility you could direct 28 Months Later?
Yeah, we've got a good idea for the third one. Very strange. And sadly we've run out of time to tell you about it...
Doctor Batman asks: What do you reckon your chances of winning Best Picture at the Oscars are? Many critics have put Slumdog Millionaire down as the dark horse.
It would be fantastic to get a nomination, as it would sustain the film in cinemas in America until the end of February. Realistically, home wins tend to dominate. Unlike at Bury.
ProfessorAntzenPantzen asks: As the man who directed The Beach, I must ask do you prefer swimming shorts or Speedo for your own beach attire?
Oh, shorts. A man of my age, always shorts.
PaulD asks: Hi Danny, would you ever like to make a super hero comic book type movie in the future?
No. Not a great fan of superhero movies. We need those extremes of storytelling, but are reluctant to use them in anything other than fantasy movies. I think that's a bit sad.
roger asks: Alien Love Triangle was recently featured on The Culture Show getting a premier at the world’s smallest (I think) cinema. For an obscure 30 minute film it had some big names in it. How did you manage to get Branagh involved, and are there any future short films in the works?
Oh yeah. Hugh Grant wasn't available. And Ken was brilliant. No, they never get released - it's really frustrating.