Big Read: Danny Boyle returns to Stratford for the first time since the Olympic Games
- Credit: Archant
Cinema-goers in Stratford would have spilt their popcorn had they realised they were strolling past an Oscar-winning director on Friday.
But Danny Boyle kept a low profile as he lounged on a sofa outside Screen One having hopped over on the Central Line 15 minutes before. “It’s one stop,” he shrugged. “Dead easy.”
Danny was at Vue inside Westfield Stratford City for a Q&A session following a screening of his new blockbuster Trance.
So what does Danny think fans of his previous work - Slumdog Millionaire, Trainspotting, 127 Hours - will think of his new film?
“I think they’ll think, after the opening ceremony, it’s back to the day job. Or night job.”
Trance is not only a return to the day job for Danny - it’s also his first time back in Stratford since he directed a £27million production seen by roughly 900 million people worldwide.
Danny said: “We’d do a couple of days doing the Olympics Opening Ceremony at Three Mills and then five days filming Trance, which we also did at Three Mills.
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“We built some sets there along with filming on location around east London, mostly there and around the Docklands. It worked out very nicely.
“They kind of sustained each other, really, because one’s obviously a very family-friendly national celebration, and the other one’s a dark exploration of a sexy, noirish world.”
The film is also a return to making thrillers - something Danny hasn’t attempted since his debut, 1994’s Shallow Grave, which was also written by John Hodge, a campanion of Danny’s for five of his films now.
Danny said: “It’s got a similar set up. There are three characters who you don’t know who to trust or who to root for and it’s kind of a menage a trois.
“So if you like those kinds of films where there’s shifting ground and you don’t know quite where it’s going...
“The film stays ahead of you until the end, when it all comes together, hopefully.
“We try to make very entertaining, mainstream films which also stretch people’s imagination a bit.
“We’re also going to try and do a sequel to Trainspotting. A film which we’ll call T2, if we can.”
Danny made the familiar Tube trip over from Mile End where he has lived for 30 years and he believes the local connection was one reason he was chosen to direct the Opening Ceremony.
He said: “It played a massive part. When I was asked, I said yes immediately and I was very proud of being based here.
“I’ve always liked east London. I come from Manchester and when I first moved here I lived in west London for a year and I didn’t like it.
“I quite like the fact you see families and it doesn’t feel pretentious. It doesn’t feel too aspirational, it feels lived in and a decent place.
“It’s also a place you can see change is coming and that’s always an exciting place to live.
“This is an example of it, the development of the park and Westfield and everything, it’s incredible.”
A vocal advocate for regeneration in east London from the start, Danny believed legacy was always an integral part of the vision for London 2012.
He said: “I believed in what Livingstone said and what he aimed for. That this was an attempt to regenerate, it’s been a massive infusion of development and cash.
“A lot of problems come with it, obviously, but a lot of opportunities as well.
“It was amazing because we were in the Park for months and I did feel walking around that you got a glimpse of how it would be, not now, not in five years time, but in 20 years time.
“I’ve spent most of my recreation time in Victoria Park and it’s wonderful to have a park near to it with much more sophisticated infrastructure like this one will have.
“It’s wonderful to have for the people here, I think.”
Many fellow East Enders also got the chance to meet Danny while participating in the Opening Ceremony as he attended every rehearsal.
He said: “The volunteers were amazing. People say to me ‘Were you nervous? Were you frightened?’ and I never was because I could see in their eyes they were going to do it, whatever happened.
“It could have been a cataclysmic thunderstorm all night and you’d have had to cut lots of the show but you’d still have got the spirit of those people.
“I think that’s what made it in the end, more than any other single element. It was their show.”
But the triumphant adulation the ceremony inspired has thrust Danny firmly in the spotlight as a national figure, an unexpected role that landed him on the front page of The Sun last week with a headline announcing the Olympic spirit was dead.
He said: “I was just trying to express sympathy, really, for what a lot of people are going through.
“It’s going to be a very tough time, it’s not going to get much easier for quite a long time.
“You can’t go around saying ‘yahoo, everything’s fantastic.’
“It’s fine for me, I’m in work, and I’m quite lucky like that, because there’s a lot of people who don’t have jobs.
“The job of any Government of any persuasion, left-wing, right-wing, centre, whatever they are, is to create jobs because without that you just can’t give people that hope that they deserve.
“And they can’t go out and spend their money at the cinema at the weekend which would be ideal.”
But does Danny - who reportedly turned down a knighthood this year - feel up to the job of being a spokesperson for the state of the nation?
“Well, you’re not a spokesperson, really. Like you do with everything, you’re just honest, you don’t hide anything or pretend anything, you just speak honestly about it.
“The ceremony’s for everyone and, as I said in the Sun’s article, there’s a lot of people battling, struggling, and if you’re in a very privileged position like me, you’ve got to be aware of that and feel sympathy towards people like that and hope things get better for them.”
Since that pronouncement, the future of the Olympic Stadium has been secured with West Ham due to make it their home in 2016.
With his trademark effervescence, Danny said: “I’m personally delighted. I don’t know anything about the finances and all that kind of stuff but I’m delighted a local football team have got it.
“Obviously, they’ll lose something from moving from Upton Park because the atmosphere’s so intense but so many football clubs do by having to upgrade their grounds.
“As I said, you can see in 50 years time the Olympic Stadium will be an extraordinary thing - maybe West Ham will win the league in 50 years time. Anything can happen!”
Trance opened in cinemas nationwide on Wednesday.