“I learned that what I'm better at is making stuff lower down the radar, actually, ideally not on the radar at all.” Danny Boyle
Golden Globe award-winning Irish-English filmmaker Danny Boyle began his career in theater and made his directional debut in film with the well-received thriller “Shallow Grave” (1995). He has since directed such critically-acclaimed films as "Trainspotting" (1996), "The Beach" (2000), "28 Days Later," (2002), “Millions” (2004), and "Sunshine" (2007). He recently won a Golden Globe Award for Best Director - Motion Picture for "Slumdog Millionaire" (2008).
“I don't want to make pompous, serious films. I like films that have a kind of vivacity about them. At this time of the year you think about awards and if you want to win one you think you should make serious films, but my instinct is to make vivacious films.” Danny Boyle
Childhood and Family:
"I come from a very small place and not a poor background. I come from a very nice background, a working class background." Danny Boyle
Born in Manchester, England, on October 20, 1956, into a working-class Irish Catholic family, Danny Boyle grew up in Radcliffe, Lancashire, England. His mother was born in Ireland and his father was born in England to an Irish family.
As a teenager, Boyle seriously contemplated priesthood and attended religious school, but was discouraged by a priest from joining the clergy. He later recalled, "I don't know if he was trying to save me or the priesthood."
Boyle attended Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton, Greater Manchester, England, and the University of Wales, in Bangor, Wales. While at the university, Boyle reportedly dated English stage actress Frances Barber (born on May 13, 1958). He has been with Gail Stevens since 1983.
28 Days Later
“I’m a twin and my dad took me to see ‘Battle of the Bulge’ and my mom took my sister to see ‘The Sound of Music.’ So you could see what kind of gender upbringing I had.” Danny Boyle (on the first film he remembered seeing)
Beginning his career in theatre, Danny Boyle first worked with the Joint Stock Theatre Company before joining the Royal Court Theatre Upstairs as the artistic director from 1982 to 1985. He then served as the deputy director of the Royal Court Theatre until 1987. During this time he worked in such productions as Howard Barker's “Victory,” Howard Brenton's “The Genius,” and Edward Bond's “Saved,” which won a Time Out Award. He also directed five productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company and began directing for television with episodes of “Inspector Morse” ("Masonic Mysteries" and "Cherubim and Seraphim"), which won two Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards for TV - Original Drama Series in 1991 and 1992, and the highly acclaimed BBC2 series “Mr. Wroe's Virgins” (1993), which was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for Best Drama Serial in 1994.
In 1995, Boyle made his feature directorial debut with “Shallow Grave,” a thriller scripted by John Hodge and produced by Andrew Macdonald. Starring then-unknown actors Ewan McGregor, Christopher Eccleston, and Kerry Fox, the film garnered rave reviews, winning Empire's Best Director, Evening Standard British Film's Most Promising Newcomer, London Critics Circle Film's British Newcomer of the Year, Angers European First Film Festival's Audience Award - Feature Film, Angers European First Film Festival's Best Screenplay - Feature Film, Angers European First Film Festival's Liberation Advertisement Award, BAFTA's Alexander Korda Award - Best British Film, Cognac Festival du Film Policier's Audience Award, Cognac Festival du Film Policier's Grand Prix, Fantasporto's International Fantasy Film Award - Best Film, Dinard British Film Festival's Golden Hitchcock, and San Sebastián International Film Festival's Silver Seashell - Best Director.
"It’s funny because back before ‘Shallow Grave,’ we didn’t have any money. Then ‘Shallow Grave’ was a hit and we were suddenly given money. I’ve made more money than my dad saw in his whole entire life and we have to deal with that. It’s a very interesting crossover world. I think you just have to behave well because this is a world that can encourage people to get revenge because of how they’ve been treated or they may behave in a vain and excessive way.” Danny Boyle
Following his stunning debut, Boyle directed his second feature, “Trainspotting” (1996). The movie starred Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, Kevin McKidd, and Robert Carlyle and garnered positive reviews. It won many awards, including Best Feature Film at the BAFTA Scotland Awards.
“I want my films to be life-affirming, even a film like 'Trainspotting' (1996), which is very dark in many ways. I want people to leave the cinema feeling that something's been confirmed for them about life.” Danny Boyle
After passing on directing “Alien: Resurrection” (1997), Boyle collaborated on the romantic dark comedy “A Life Less Ordinary” (1997), starring Ewan McGregor and Cameron Diaz.
Hitting the new millennium, Boyle directed an adaptation of the cult 1996 novel by Alex Garland, “The Beach” (2000), in which he collaborated with John Hodge once again. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tilda Swinton, Robert Carlyle, Virginie Ledoyen, and Guillaume Canet, the movie received a Golden Berlin Bear nomination at the Berlin International Film Festival.
“I think I'm better at making films on my home turf really. You learn from experience and I've learned that through 'The Beach' (2000/I). I love big movies like 'Gladiator' (2000), but I'm better at smaller films.” Danny Boyle
Two years later, Boyle directed the post-apocalyptic science fiction film “28 Days Later,” (2002), starring Cillian Murphy, Naomie Harris, Noah Huntley, Brendan Gleeson, and Christopher Eccleston. It was a critical and commercial success, winning Fantasporto's Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver and Fantasporto's International Fantasy Film Award - Best Director, as well as Neuchâtel International Fantasy Film Festival's Narcisse Award - Best International Film. It also earned Boyle Best Director nominations at the British Independent Film Awards, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, Chlotrudis Awards, and European Film Awards.
When asked if the success of “28 Days Later” took him by surprise, Boyle admitted, “Yeah, that’s an understatement. I mean, I was flabbergasted. Again, we made it for a very limited amount of money and we thought it would have a limited kind of life, really. It’s a good place when all you have is hope and not expectations. That’s a good thing, you know? That’s a very good energy to have about films because you can go out there and try and sell them to people. It also puts the people who see the film and like it, it gives them a responsibility in a way to pass on what they feel about the film to other people because the advertising isn’t doing it for them. There’s aren’t huge TV ads doing it for them, so it’s a lovely kind of almost democratic part of the business, you know?”
“28 Days Later” spawned the 2007 sequel "28 Weeks Later," which Boyle produced but did not direct, as well as the graphic novel "28 Days Later: The Aftermath."
Next, Boyle directed the Frank Cottrell Boyce-scripted “Millions” (2004), starring Alexander Etel, Lewis McGibbon, and James Nesbitt. It received positive reviews and was nominated for an Emden Film Award at the Emden International Film Festival.
"The [Millions] writer wrote this originally many years ago and it’s been around the houses. It wasn’t guaranteed that we’d be able to make it. I think one of the reasons that we were is that '28 Days Later' was a big success, particularly in the States, and that bought us a lot of good will. I think if '28 Days Later' hadn’t been a success, I think it would have been very difficult to make 'Millions.’” Danny Boyle
Three years later, in 2007, Boyle directed Cillian Murphy once again in a sci-fi film about the crew of a spacecraft on a dangerous mission, “Sunshine.” Featuring an ensemble cast that consisted of Rose Byrne, Cliff Curtis, Chris Evans, Troy Garity, Hiroyuki Sanada, Benedict Wong and Michelle Yeoh, the film was nominated for an ALFS Award for British Director of the Year at the London Critics Circle Film Awards.
2008 saw Boyle direct an unknown cast in “Slumdog Millionaire,” a British-Indian drama film based on a novel by Indian author and diplomat Vikas Swarup. The film, which follows an orphan on the streets of Mumbai, was nominated for eleven BAFTA Awards.
Golden Globe: Best Director - Motion Picture, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2009
Broadcast Film Critics Association: Critics Choice Award - Best Director, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2009
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards: Best Director, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2009
British Independent Film Awards: Best Director, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2008
Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards: Best Director, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2008
Chicago Film Critics Association Awards: Best Director, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2008
Chicago International Film Festival: Audience Choice Award, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2008
Austin Film Festival: Audience Award - Out of Competition, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2008
Satellite: Best Director, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2008
Toronto International Film Festival: People's Choice Award, "Slumdog Millionaire," 2008
ShoWest: International Filmmaker of the Year, 2005
Fantasporto: Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver, "28 Days Later...," 2003
Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Award - Best Director, "28 Days Later...," 2003
Neuchâtel International Fantasy Film Festival: Narcisse Award - Best International Film, "28 Days Later...," 2003
BAFTA Scotland: Best Feature Film, "Trainspotting," 1997
Bodil: Best Non-American Film, "Trainspotting," 1997
Czech Lion: Best Foreign Language Film, "Trainspotting," 1997
Empire: Best British Director, "Trainspotting," 1997
Seattle International Film Festival: Golden Space Needle Award - Best Director, "Trainspotting," 1996
Warsaw International Film Festival: Audience Award, "Trainspotting," 1996
Empire: Best Director, "Shallow Grave," 1996
Evening Standard British Film: Most Promising Newcomer, "Shallow Grave," 1996
London Critics Circle Film: ALFS Award - British Newcomer of the Year, "Shallow Grave," 1996
Angers European First Film Festival: Audience Award - Feature Film, "Shallow Grave," 1995
Angers European First Film Festival: Best Screenplay - Feature Film, "Shallow Grave," 1995
Angers European First Film Festival: Liberation Advertisement Award, "Shallow Grave," 1995
BAFTA: Alexander Korda Award - Best British Film, "Shallow Grave," 1995
Cognac Festival du Film Policier: Audience Award, "Shallow Grave," 1995
Cognac Festival du Film Policier: Grand Prix, "Shallow Grave," 1995
Fantasporto: International Fantasy Film Award - Best Film, "Shallow Grave," 1995
Dinard British Film Festival: Golden Hitchcock, "Shallow Grave," 1994
San Sebastián International Film Festival: Silver Seashell - Best Director, "Shallow Grave," 1994
Writers' Guild of Great Britain: TV - Original Drama Series, “Inspector Morse,” 1992
Writers' Guild of Great Britain: TV - Original Drama Series, “Inspector Morse,” 1991