Danny Boyle: I'm too much of a control freak
'Trance' stars James McAvoy as a man who teams with a criminal (Vincent Cassel) to steal a painting.
Los Angeles: After producing last summer's London Summer Olympics opening ceremony, British filmmaker Danny Boyle is back in the movies with 'Trance.'
The psychological caper, opening in U.S. movie theaters on Friday, stars James McAvoy as man who teams with a criminal (Vincent Cassel) to steal a painting, but suffers a blow to the head during the heist. Unable to remember where he hid the painting, the man works with a hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) to regain his memory.
The British filmmaker, 56, sat down with Reuters to talk about 'Trance' and why it's unlikely he'll ever work with a major star.
Q: Your film is set in London but its three main stars are British, American and French. Yet the setting is sort of anonymous. Could you have shot it anywhere?
A: The original plan was to set it in Manhattan with an English girl because we always thought she should be from somewhere far away so that she didn't have somewhere to escape to quickly.
Q: So what happened?
A: We got this Olympics job so we realized that if we were going to make the film, we would have to set it in London and use an American girl. But I'm still very keen to work in New York. I've never made a film there and I think any serious filmmaker needs to make a film in New York.
Q: McAvoy's character is put under numerous trances by Dawson. Did you ever go under just for research sake?
A: No, I'm too much of a control freak! (laughs) Directors are control freaks. They're always trying to control everything!
Q: Your films generally don't have any big name stars. If Brad Pitt came to you and said: 'I want to be in your movie' would you hire him?
A: With this film, for instance, if you cast a superstar in one of those three roles, it would distort it. You want the three characters to feel equal so you're not quite sure who will dominate. If you have one major lead, you could use a big movie star, but we tend not to do that because we keep a limited budget, which we like. It's like a ceiling you can't break through.
Q: What's wrong with breaking it?
A: Big movie stars want big money usually because they will generate a lot of profit for you. So it's understandable economically but it distorts your film. We try to operate this ceiling where you're trying to make $20 million look like $100 million. I love that kind of discipline.
Q: You've worked in so many different genres. Is there a musical in you somewhere?
A: I'd love to do a musical. But with a musical, the story is crucial to it. We made a kids film called 'Millions' (in 2004) and we should have done that as a musical. That was the perfect vehicle for somebody to sing. You can't just do it on any movie. You have to wait for the right one to percolate though.
Q: What's percolating for you now?
A: Weirdly enough, we're working on a couple of period movies at the moment. We're in serious script stage so one of those might be next. I have done period, but on television a long time ago. It would be interesting to see what sensibility we can tell that with.
Q: You've talked about making a sequel to 'Trainspotting.' Where do things stand as of now?
A: We've just got to get a good script together and then approach the actors. We're genuinely serious about taking those same guys, playing the same characters 20 years later, when a generation has passed them by and they look older. They were hedonists. In your 20s you can do anything to the body and get away with it most times. But when you get in your 40s, the body is beginning to creak and the osteoarthritis is beginning to manifest ... It would be a wonderful way of making a proper sequel.
Q: You've always been on the cutting edge of technology. What do you see coming up in the near future?
A: The example I'll give is the Russian meteor (that exploded over the Urals on February 15.) It's a fact that everybody who drives a car in Russia now has a camera running the whole time on the journey because so many people were faking insurance claims. So you've got this meteor traveling at 44,000 miles an hour and because of cameras in cars, we have multiple images of it arriving on earth. You've got this incredible footage of a meteor arriving!