Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire, is fearless: he refuses to heed W.C. Fields’ oft-repeated warning, “Never work with animals or children;" in 127 Hours, he filmed what was tantamount to a one-man show starring James Franco; and, in his latest film, Steve Jobs, he has crafted a complex psychological examination of the viciously brilliant—and, at times, just plain vicious—Apple co-founder and product wizard.
But he’s never helmed a sequel—until now. Boyle’s next film will be a sequel to his 1996 cult classic Trainspotting, a sordid Scottish black comedy centered on a gang of heroin-addicted petty criminals. The film, made for around $5 million, became a critical and commercial hit, grossing $72 million worldwide and launching the careers of its stars Ewan MacGregor, Kelly Macdonald, and Robert Carlyle. According to Boyle, the four main characters—played by MacGregor, Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, and Jonny Lee Miller—will all be back, and the film will be made with a budget hovering just under $20 million. And while original author Irvine Welsh’s sequel novel, Porno, is set 10 years after the events of Trainspotting and swaps the heroin world for the porn world, Boyle says that his sequel will not only have a different title and be set 20 years after the first film, but also won’t be that faithful to Porno.
“It’s not very directly from the book anymore, and it certainly won’t be called Porno. It will be called T2 if we can get the rights [alluding to James Cameron’s Terminator 2: Judgment Day], and we’re going to shoot in May and June of next year,” Boyle told The Daily Beast. “It’s all set up. Hopefully we’ll have it ready to be released in 2016.”
Boyle said he was inspired to do his first sequel because of the enduring love for the 1996 original. He also thought it would be a challenge to, in true Linklater fashion, examine how his characters will have been influenced by the passage of time.
“It’s 20 years next year, and when people talk to me about it, they remember the characters’ names,” said Boyle. “You remember who’s in it, but you don’t remember the character they played, and they remember all of them! It just made me think we should start to revisit them, and the interesting way to do it would be the passage of time. What have you done with the 20 years, and where are you now? That’s fascinating for cinema.”
In addition to Trainspotting, Boyle served as the architect for another celebrated franchise—revolutionizing the zombie film with 2002’s 28 Days Later. The movie spawned an exciting action-packed sequel, 28 Weeks Later, in 2007, and ever since there have been rumblings that a third entry, 28 Months Later, would be moving forward. Boyle confirmed that it is, based on an idea from original 28 Days Later scribe Alex Garland.
“Alex has had a lovely idea and we’re waiting to see about that,” said Boyle. “There’s definitely been talk about it. Not as much as we’re having with T2, but we have an idea that hopefully we can explore right after T2.”
But perhaps Boyle’s most gargantuan task to date—which is really saying something—was serving as director for London’s 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony. The production was rapturously received, and opened with a hilarious sketch featuring Daniel Craig’s James Bond escorting Queen Elizabeth II into a helicopter, followed by a fake Queen and Bond parachuting into Olympic Stadium.
Now, Boyle was initially planning to have Helen Mirren (star of The Queen) stand in for Queen Elizabeth II, and was shocked when the real deal accepted.
“While we were doing it, I was thinking, ‘Well, why did she agree to do this?’ We sent the idea in to them and we were already planning what we’d do instead because we thought she’d never agree. And they agreed!” exclaimed Boyle.
“And you immediately stop and think, ‘Why?’ The Queen doesn’t need anything, and doesn’t need anything to do with PR,” he continued. “But you know what? The Queen wanted pictures with Daniel Craig! I kid you not. She wanted pictures with him. They were insistent that they all get pictures with Daniel Craig so, on their royal Facebook or whatever, they could post the pictures of her and her staff. And it wasn’t just her. She wanted her staff, who’d been there for years, to have pictures with Daniel. They were acting like regular people, and it’s fun to say, ‘There I am with James Bond!’”