Danny Boyle talks about revisiting the past in T2 Trainspotting, and the film he wished got some Oscar love

  • Larry Heath
  • February 20, 2017
  • Comments Off on Danny Boyle talks about revisiting the past in T2 Trainspotting, and the film he wished got some Oscar love

We caught up with T2 Trainspotting Director Danny Boyle on the red carpet of the film’s Sydney premiere to chat about how he approached making the film, (his first ever sequel), his recent TV work, filming in Edinburgh and we find out if he has any Oscar picks for next Monday!

You’re a filmmaker who has famously never made the same film twice, something that has perhaps changed here, the first time you’ve directed a sequel – how did you balance your need for originality with the expectation of nostalgia and continuity with fans?

Continuity… that’s a nice way of saying repetition! No, it’s true. There’s an inherent contradiction there. Actually we did hang onto the idea that it was NOT going to be a sequel for quite some time, until we’d really gotten the script to where we wanted it. What happens in this business is that a lot of people drive everything towards a sequel, if they think it’s gonna be a sequel, and I didn’t want them to do that. I wanted them to let the thing breathe. So I kept saying it might not be a sequel. It might not appear to be a sequel. And they were like “*grumbling* I’m sure it will be”. And of course deep down I knew that it had to be, too, in order to sell it. But I let it breathe a bit first.

So it is distinct. But you are right, it does involve some continuity. It’s 20 years later, so the continuity is at an enormous tension, at a stretch, to believe it’s the same people. But one of the riches of it is how much they have changed – or not changed. So that’s one of the pleasures of it, I think, to see how your favourite characters have emerged. And if you haven’t seen the original film, which some people won’t have, I think it’s quite interesting… I think… I hope… you could play the films in the other order. You could play this one first, and then see the original – I think that would be very interesting.

It’s got this loop idea in it, which is difficult to talk about (without spoiling the film), but you’ll understand when you see it. Where it loops back to the first film. Which means you could almost begin the first film after this one. I’ll be very interested to see if anyone does that anyway.

In recent years you’ve been dabbling in TV and in episodic films like Steve Jobs – did that influence your approach at all on T2?

No, not at all actually. I think a TV series, it’s generally quite realistic. They may involve some extraordinary leaps of the imagination, but they’re quite realistic ordinarily. In T2, the acting is heightened. They are quite big, the actors. And if you had put this on the TV screen as an original piece of programming, you might think *woah*. But on a big screen, it suits it. I just hope it’s a great cinematic experience for everyone.

You were able to film in Edinburgh for the majority this time – which I know you had wanted to do the first time around but weren’t able to. What was it like filming there?

Well we did film a few days there in the original, but we couldn’t afford any more, it was too expensive. So we filmed in Glasgow, where most of the crew lived – so we didn’t have to pay for overnights for them. So we shot virtually all the first film in Glasgow. But we had more money this time, so we did the exact opposite. We knew we had to pay respect to Edinburgh, where the story had originally come from, in Irvine Welsh’s work, and so we worked virtually all of the film there – with a couple of days in Glasgow for a great scene in a club, the 1690 scene.

Edinburgh had changed a lot since I had remembered it. It’s a lot more vibrant. Much younger. There’s a huge student population there now. Someone said the other day that this might have been influenced by Trainspotting, where people started to think that Edinburgh looked cool, “why don’t we live there?”

Just grab a few casual addictions along the way…

“Maybe it’ll be just like that movie!” *laughs*. I’m sure they would have been disappointed by that. It’s a very nice city! But it’s been made much more dynamic by that young population. By a migrant population as well, especially from Eastern Europe, and we feature that in the film. It provides a very important character for us in the film.

And do you have any picks for the Oscars this weekend?

You’re not meant to say, there’s a code of silence amongst voters, because you’re not meant to influence any other voters. A truly blind poll for everyone!

Well let’s put it this way… was there a film you were glad to see recognised?

*laughs* Well, there was one I wanted to see recognised that wasn’t. Have you seen Don’t Breathe? You should see that film. That is a very well directed film. Very low budget horror, but much more interesting than a straight horror film.

Photo: Sony Pictures


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Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.