Known for his prolific work as a director for both the stage and screen, Danny Boyle is one of our national treasures and him and his work are equally as revered worldwide. The British Film Institute ranked the revolutionary Trainspotting (1996) as the tenth greatest British film of the 20th century and Slumdog Millionaire (2008) became the most successful British film of the decade, garnering eight Academy Awards in the process. Boyle may have politely declined a knighthood, but his contribution to British cinema and extensive charity work most definitely grants him a “Sir” status in our books.
Boyle was born in Greater Manchester, 1956, to Catholic parents. His mother had aspiration for his to become a priest but ironically at age 14, a priest dissuaded him from the profession and he started doing drama soon after. Boyle studied English and Drama at Bangor University and began his directing career at the Joint Stock Theatre Company. He also produced several television shows and films for BBC Northern Ireland and moved onto directing episodes of shows such as For the Greater Good and Not Even God is Wise Enough. Boyle’s first feature film, Shallow Grave, was released in 1994 and was an incredible success; it was the highest-grossing British film of the year and won the BAFTA Awards for Best British Film.
Boyle followed Shallow Grave with Trainspotting (1996), a film based on the novel by Irvine Welsh that became a cult classic. After reading Welsh’s book, Boyle was immediately excited by its potential to be the “most energetic film you’ve ever seen – about something that ultimately ends up in purgatory or worse.”. The film’s potential was certainly fulfilled and the story about a group of junkies in Edinburgh remains a Britpop masterpiece. Trainspotting marked Danny Boyle and Ewan McGregor’s second collaboration after the actor impressed the director during their time on Shallow Grave. McGregory starred in Boyle’s next feature A Life Less Ordinary (1997) but the casting of Leonardo DiCaprio as the lead in The Beach (2002) resulted in a 16 year-long feud between the director and star of his first three films. The dream team had been broken but they eventually reconciled and cinematically reunited for T2 (2016). McGregory has reflected on their rift, stating “I just regret all the films that we didn’t make together, me and Danny.” Although the themes and topics that Boyle’s films encapsulate are diverse, his characters often share a restless nature that makes them such compelling protagonists – whether it be McGregor’s Rent Boy or Michael Fassbender’s Steve Jobs, the frenetic pace and energy is what ensures Boyle’s films are unforgettable.
Boyle’s name has been a recurring feature in the entertainment news headlines over the past few months due to several forthcoming projects, one of them being an untitled comedy penned by Love Actually and About Time screenwriter Richard Curtis. The film will star Lily James and Himesh Patel and Saturday Night Live standout Kate McKinnon is reportedly in negotiations to join the cast. However, Boyle’s other film currently in development has been making greater waves in the news: Bond 25. Yes, Danny Boyle is attached to direct the next instalment of the spy franchise and Daniel Craig IS set to return as the titular character. Boyle has commented, “We are working on a script right now, and it all depends on that, really. I am working on a Richard Curtis script at the moment. We hope to start shooting that in six or seven weeks. Then Bond would be right at the end of the year. But we are working on them both right now.” The director’s schedule is certainly very hectic, but we can’t wait to see these two very different films make their way to the big screen in 2019.
- Trainspotting (1996)
- 28 Days Later (2002)
- Sunshine (2007)
- Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
- 127 Hours (2010)
- Steve Jobs (2015)
By Evie Brudenall