Danny Boyle Interview

The director discusses working with kids in Millions

Danny Boyle first gained notice in the US with the Hitchcockian tale of greed Shallow Grave. He followed that up with the often imitated but never replicated Trainspotting, a film that is still as relevant as when it was initially released. He followed that up with a series of films like The Beach and A Life Less Ordinary, which while different from his first movies, still had the Danny Boyle staple: They constantly undermined their audiences assumptions.

After reinvigorating the zombie genre with 28 Days Later, Boyle followed that success with, of all things, a kids film. Not so much a children’s movie as a movie about children, Millions tells the story of 9-year-old Anthony and his 7-year-old brother Damian, as they start anew after the death of their mother. The boys use imagination, fantasy, and faith to make sense of this confusing world. When a suitcase full of money falls out of the sky at Damian’s feet, it sets the boys on the adventure of a lifetime. While at first it may seem that Boyle is out of his element with such material, it became quickly clear as soon as he sat down and spoke with MovieWeb (especially with the amount of times we laughed together) that this man is really a kid at heart.

What attracted you to Millions?

Danny Boyle: It’s basically the same thing with each of them really... something just pops for you. It’s like falling in love with a girl, other people might not understand that, it might not make financial sense but you just can’t stop yourself. It was a chance to make a film about where I come from, the Northwest of England, a place called Manchester and I think every filmmaker wants to make a film that is in someway about your childhood. And though I think this is heavily disguised, I wanted it to be a modern entertaining story, not an autobiography, not something nostalgic. There are lots of kinds of flavors in it that are things that come from my own childhood. And from the writer’s childhood (Frank Cottrell Boyce), we made the film very much in tandem, you know?

A lot of Directors, it seems, when they make a film about kids they draw on their own life experiences, did you do that with Millions?

Danny Boyle: Very much so, yeah, I mean the whole time you’re doing it. It’s lovely to do it as well because you’re in your 40s and you’re doing it. Kids are on set, one is 8 and one’s 11, and you’re kind of remembering things yourself and you’re seeing them against modern experiences. You see the similarities and you see the differences. It’s really fascinating. You fill it full of lots of detail about your life growing up, and mine was basically imagination really. I lived in my imagination. As I always have done. I’ve been very lucky, very able to sustain that, you know? And I’ve always been true to it. I’ve never backed off of it because somebody told me to. And he’s like that, the kid, he believes what he believes in his imagination. To believe in Saints? In that kind of world? And that’s just because that’s what he knows at that age. And it will get replaced by girls and art and all the kinds of things, movies, everything that gets in your imagination as you get a little bit older. But for the moment it’s just that and that’s what he’s staying true to.

After this experience do you plan to make more movies with and about young people?

Danny Boyle: I wouldn’t be hesitant to. I would try never to make another film with animals, I’ve had some experience with animals and they’re not... what they say about them is true, but I wouldn’t resist with kids again, no, because I loved doing it with the kids. I learned a lot about acting, actually, and about filmmaking. I said when I was promoting it, and it’s true, it was as big a step for me making this as it was making Shallow Grave, my first film. It was a huge leap into a void, you know? And this was as well, because you have to forget all that stuff. It’s very interesting working with kids. Very interesting. I recommend it to anybody.

Trainspotting wasn’t like The Beach which wasn’t like 28 Days Later which wasn’t like Millions. Did you always set out to create this diverse body of work?

Danny Boyle: No! Not really... it’s like I said in the beginning, for some reason it’s something that pops... you just follow that. That’s what you do, really. You don’t think in terms of a canon or work. I can’t believe I’ve already made a few films. You mustn't do that. Look back and all that kind of stuff, you know? You must stay away from doing all that kind of stuff, I feel anyway.

Can you talk at all about the Untitled Sunshine Project?

Danny Boyle: I’m right in the middle of it at the moment. At the end of next week we’ll be halfway through. And it’s kind of tough. I think you’ll find most directors only ever make one space movie. It’s tough. It’s good. I think it’s good. I have no idea actually. You’ll have to just wait. Sorry to be so exuberant... you’re right in the middle of it you have no clue. You’re absolutely clueless. Anything you might think at this stage you’re just fooling yourself anyway.

This is probably a bad question since you’re right in the middle of another project, but are you currently working on or developing any new projects?

Danny Boyle: Yeah, we’ve got a a couple of things we’re working on. Which are kind of down the line. I think they’ll be, after having done this space movie, you’ll find they’ll be quite sharp, aggressively made, cheap films, because you kind of naturally react in that way. You think, when you’re in the middle of it, you’re like, “Why can’t I just make Shallow Grave?” Which is like 30 days with 3 actors. I think it will be something in that territory. We are developing a couple of ideas, actually, which are very interesting. But having said that, I tend not to work that far ahead. A lot of directors have a lot of projects on the boiler and they choose one of them. I tend to just leap in with one at a time. It’s putting all your eggs in one basket. It’s very foolish, in many ways, in a business sense. But it’s great to feel such dedication to a project. Like Millions, I was completely back in that world for 18 months. I didn’t care about setting up anything else. I feel like that on this now. I’m just completely immersed in Sunshine. Although, I’m not actually. I’m sitting inside a dark studio for 18 hours a day!

Millions lands on DVD shelves November 1st, 2006.

Dont't forget to also check out: Millions [WS]