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Danny Boyle Talks The Unorthodox Construction Of 'Trance,' Going Back To The Dark Side & His Relationship With Writers

Photo of Drew Taylor By Drew Taylor | The Playlist April 9, 2013 at 3:05PM

When we attended a Danny Boyle panel at the South by Southwest Film Festival last month, they played a kind of highlight reel before the it began, with clips covering his film career to date. As they flickered by, it was hard not to be impressed – this is a man who has won an Oscar for Best Director and one for Best Picture and yet, when you see images from "Trainspotting" or "Sunshine" or "127 Hours," you can't help but feel like he's still underrated. His newest movie, a twisty, turny, deliciously sexy thriller called "Trance," just opened in New York and Los Angeles, and will be expanding in the coming weeks across the country.
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Trance, Boyle, McAvoy, set image
Now, did you see “Side Effects”? 
No, it’s just opened in the U.K. I’m going to see it when I get back.

It’s interesting because you both did a sort of psychosexual thriller. Now you’re sort of running out of genres though at this point. I hear you want to do a historical piece next, right? 
We’re working on a couple of period movies, but they won’t be like "Downton Abbey" period movies, obviously. John Hodge is writing one of them and the other one is a book that we’re working on and they’re very interesting. I never thought I’d...you know it’s weird the way it kind of like, maybe it’s because we’re running out of genres.... I don’t know. I don’t think it is. I think it’s more like, “Ah, that’s interesting, should we do that even if it is set in such a date?”

Can you tell what the periods are?
No, because it gives it away.

Well I wanted to ask you about John Hodge, so you haven’t worked with him in a little while. 
No, and that’s one of the wonderful things about doing “Trance” as well.

It was kind of interesting. Are you gonna bring the whole band back together and get Ewan McGregor back?
There’s always been this long-term plan to do “Trainspotting 2.” If John Hodge can produce a decent enough script, I don’t think there will be any barriers for Ewan coming back or the others. I think they’ll want to know that the parts are good, so that they won’t feel like they’re letting anybody down because I think like the reason for wanting to do it again is people still cherish the original. People remember it and people have caught up with it if they’re younger and they really like it so you wanna make sure you don’t disappoint people. That will be the only criteria I think.

Trance, Vincent Casell, Rosario Dawson
And would that be based on the book or would this be sort of like a new – 
It’s very loosely based on the book, but “Porno”, we’d have to have Irvine Welsh on board whether it resembled the book.

Would that be something that comes after these period movies?
The ideal time to would be 2016 because I think it was 1996 so...20 years. It’s like, “Wow, where did that go?” But it’s gone and you won’t get that back again.

I wanted to ask you about your sort of relationship with these writers. Cause you use several of them frequently. Alex Garland, obviously went on to great things. Did you see “Dredd”?
I saw “Dredd.” It was very interesting, yeah. I’ve been very lucky. I’ve worked with very few, literally just a handful, who are remarkable writers and I’ve tried to get the best out of them. I’m not a writer, I think that helps. I think it must be hard if you’re a writer as well, but I think they kind of know I respect their work and try to do it to the best of my abilities. You kind of drift away from each other for a bit and then drift back again. So hopefully, we’ll get back with Alex again at some point as well. But it was great to reconnect with John Hodge on this because we haven’t worked together since “The Beach” and, also when Christian [Colson, producer] and I had done "Slumdog Millionaire," we started looking at this idea of him coming and working on “Trance” and he’s been fantastic throughout.

Trance Rosario Dawson
So you’ve been working on this since ‘Slumdog’?
Yeah, we worked on the script for a couple of years. You always spend a couple of years on a script, at least. I mean you have to. You try to work out as many of your ideas in script-form as possible cause it’s the cheapest time. It’s the only time film is cheap. Cause it’s just the cost of paper you’re working on.That’s when you can get all of your ideas out and kind of give them a run-around and see what they feel like and you know you leave it for a couple of months and come back to it and think, “Oh, it feels like this.” And that easily becomes a couple of years, you know.

Were you looking for something a little bit more kind of rock ‘n roll?
Yeah. I mean I felt very strongly about its presentation too. You got a responsibility to say to people, “Don’t wander into this thinking it’s like ‘Slumdog’ or ‘127 Hours’ or the Olympic Opening Ceremony.” It’s like, “No, this is much more like when he was dark, delicious, fuck with your head kind of filmmaking” kind of thing and you know you have a responsibility to do that because I love that sort of storytelling and I know people out there who do love it as well. Other people love a different kind of storytelling and there’s people that like both, well I’m one of those as well, though you’ve got to be careful you present it properly.

So you'll continue to go back to the darker stuff?
Yes, it’s also just the pleasure in storytelling is really rich when you’re in that darker territory cause it’s not like you’re kind of trying to teach anybody any lessons. It’s just, this is the pleasure of cinema - we love going to places and watching, like you said, sexy psycho-thrillers.  [Laughter]

"Trance" is out now in New York and LA, and goes expands nationwide this Friday, April 12th.

This article is related to: Danny Boyle, Trance, Interviews, Interviews, Rosario Dawson, James McAvoy


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