Last week, I had the pleasure of talking to director Danny Boyle about his new movie, T2 Trainspotting. For those who are unfamiliar with the upcoming sequel, it takes place twenty years after the original and follows Renton (Ewan McGregor), Spud (Ewen Bremner), Sick Boy (Jonny Lee Miller), and Begbie (Robert Carlyle) as they cope with how little their lives have changed over the past two decades. I really enjoyed the film, and you can click here to read my review.
During my conversation with Boyle, we talked about why the time was right to do a sequel, look back at his own life since he made the original, if it would be tougher today to make Trainspotting than it was in the mid-90s, the controversial release strategy that hurt Steve Jobs at the box office, his upcoming TV project Trust, how storytelling for TV differs than storytelling for film, and more.
COLLIDER: So I wanted to start off by saying that part of this film’s strength is that a whole twenty years has passed since the original. Were you concerned about ever jumping into a sequel too soon?
DANNY BOYLE: It would appear so, wouldn’t it? It’s funny, actually. We tried, we did try. We didn’t try initially, which was when most people would do it, like, you know, a sequel normally arrives a year or two years after the original. There was never any talk about that after the first one, even though the first one had been very successful. But we did try with Irvine’s ten years later book, Porno. And we did adapt it, but we were very disappointed with it, I think, with what we’d done. And it felt like a very kind of obvious and traditional sequel. And even though it had some of the same ingredients as this one, you know, Renton returns to Amsterdam, Begbie’s been in jail, things like that, so it was only when we got together after—when the twenty year anniversary loomed on the horizon that we thought we’d better have a look at this and see if we think we can do it, or forget it for good. The stuff we were doing then became much more personal, surprisingly painful, actually, about us and about our age, and I think the actors then picked that up when they came in. And so it did become a more personal film than we were expecting, and that stops it being a sequel, because actually, its prime reason for being is actually in the emotion of the aging rather than in the necessary, the fact that it’s a sequel to the first one. It is, and obviously you build that within the film, it feels like a sequel to the first film, it refers to the first film, but the real reason for making it is what are these guys like now? What has time done to them, you know? And how poorly have they aged? And indeed, men do age very, very badly. That’s sort of what the film’s really about, I think, is how—certainly compared to women—how badly men age, how we just don’t want to and how we hang onto the past. So it became about those kind of things, really.