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July 2007
SUNSHINE : An Interview with Danny Boyle

SUNSHINE : An Interview with Danny Boyle
By Brad Balfour

July 19, 2007


Is it the distance of the orbit?

DB: Nope, it's nothing to do with that. It has to do with the tilt and the amount of surface area of the planet that's actually exposed to the sun to warm it up. But there is something, sadly, something could happen to the sun in the meantime, that would affect our relationship with it. I don't think that we'd be able to do anything about it. Certainly not now or within the next fifty years, it looks unlikely. Something could happen. If it does, it's more likely to be a magnetic
pulse which will just wipe out life on the planet. We won't be able to do anything about that. But we've gotten through four and a half billion years with it, so we should be okay.

Because you made it a point of discussion about life on earth, you didn't want to contrast what that world was like 50 years in the future. Did you make it a consideration?

DB: No, we always wanted to. There was a big discussion with the studio because I think that, in conventional terms, you should really cut back. If you wanted to make it more of a disaster movie, you'd cut back to earth and show children freezing. But we didn't want to do that. We wanted to keep this one moment to be just the end moment of the film, when you got back to work. We didn't want the film to be made as a disaster film. We wanted it to be more a psychological film about those people rather than a disaster movie partly set on Earth.

What didn't make the final cut and will we see on the DVD?

DB: There's some good stuff on the DVD. There's a different kind of ending. There's one different ending, which there usually is with my stuff. There's a different strange ending. There's a different ending in there we shall see which isn't, effect-wise, completed, but you'll get the idea of it. And there's a few scenes, not very many scenes actually, less cut scenes then I'd normally have. There's lots of documentary bits and pieces about how we made it and how it was done and all that, which I think really is interesting because it takes you through the whole process of how you make a film like this.

I have my own alternative ending; he comes back to Earth and finds that the Earth is already destroyed.

DB: So there is an alternative ending.

Will you do a commentary?

DB: I've done a commentary.

Will the writer too?

DB: Alex hasn't done one. Brian Cox has done one, the science advisor. So he's done one on the science point of view.

I loved the score, can you explain about that sound?

DB: I work with this band, Underworld, and I had this idea right from the beginning that they would do a pass across the whole film. I said they could do whatever they wanted, it wasn't prescriptive. I just wanted them to watch the film, experience the film, and basically jam to the film. And they did that. It took the pressure away from them as to should they be conventional composers. They just did it. And I gave it to John Murphy, who is my regular composer, and he shaped it into the more professional [unintelligible]. And I'm very impressed with the score, I think it's really original and different. It's one of the moments that we managed to do something our own way.

Are you surprised with how this film has been doing in Europe?

DB: I was a bit disappointed, to be absolutely honest. It did do well in Australia--I think because of Rose, actually, who's becoming quite a star. The biggest surprise for me was Britain. They blamed it on the weather. It was a really hot weekend that week and the following weekend. It did nothing--well, not nothing, not horribly, really. But it wasn't what I was expecting at all. It's disappointing, but you can't let that kind of stuff affect you. You have to plow on. I learned that. You have highs and lows, in terms of box office. Later on, they don't mean anything. I remember the reception in Britain for “28 Days Later.” Even though the box office was high, the critical reception was really negative. People regard it as a trash genre film that I shouldn't be doing. But in America, where it was looked at properly, people all started changing their minds. So you keep your own perspective on things.

Do you think that has to do with how intelligent science fiction is received nowadays versus big-budgeted action films?

DB: It's certainly a particular kind. It certainly requires patience, like the pacing in the beginning. We tried constantly to make it intelligent, and I don't apologize for that. Fortunately, we didn't make it for 150 million dollars. It still will make its money back very reasonably.

Any more sci-fi films in the making?

DB: The [next film] is called “Slumdog Millionaire.” It's written by Simon Beaufoy, who wrote “The Full Monty.” Wonderful writer. He's based it on a true story of a guy, slum kid, uneducated, and who goes on the Hindi version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” and he wins it. Now the Hindi version of “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire” isn't like here or in Britain; it's really tough. In India, they have this whole class of really educated people but they don't have much money. But they're professors. They all target the show. It's a lot of money. It's not like they win a million rupees--they actually win a million dollars, which in Indian terms is like fifty million dollars.

So the fact that this slum kid goes on it and wins it, and the film's structures shows how he knows the answers to all the questions. But the real reason he's on the show isn't to win the
money, it's to get back into touch with his girlfriend who he lost and she's a slum kid too. So they don't have mobile phones or anything like that. All he knows is that she watches “Who Wants To
Be A Millionaire” religiously.

Whatever happened to that film “Alien Love Triangle?"

DB: Well, the Weinstein Brothers are taking it to their new company and they've got it. It's amazing. It cost $2 million--not a negligible investment.

Will they put it out on DVD eventually?

DB: We were hoping to have it come as a charity DVD. I think they're hoping I will complete it, or we'll do a film together and I'll put it on the DVD. It's really nice, and got lovely performances from the three of them-- Kenneth Branagh, Courtney Cox, and Heather Graham as an alien.

What makes a good Danny Boyle film story?

DB: I like extremes. I'll do anything. I'll risk everything to get that extremity. I am aware of that. I remember when we did “Trainspotting.” There's a sequence in it where he goes down the toilet. People now speak of that scene with great love. People really love that sequence. I remember when we were planning it, people said, "That's not going to work. People won't believe it. You're jeopardizing the whole film." But I always do those things anyway.

There's a sequence in “The Beach” where he turns into a cartoon character and people would say exactly the same, and they were right [laughs] because I think a lot of people just went "oh, no" and they couldn't take that at all.

But you've got to stay committed to those extremities. I think people don't go to the cinema to see timidity. You've got to see boldness. The risk taking is everything. Even if you destroy the film in the process, that's what it always is to me.

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