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Danny Boyle

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Title: Danny Boyle  
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Subject: Sunshine (2007 film), 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony, Miloš Forman, Slumdog Millionaire, Alfonso Cuarón
Collection: 1956 Births, Alumni of Bangor University, Best British Director Empire Award Winners, Best Director Academy Award Winners, Best Director Bafta Award Winners, Best Director Empire Award Winners, Best Director Golden Globe Winners, British Republicans, Directors Guild of America Award Winners, English Atheists, English Film Directors, English Film Producers, English People of Irish Descent, English Television Directors, English Television Producers, English-Language Film Directors, Former Roman Catholics, Living People, People Educated at Thornleigh Salesian College, People from Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, Short Film Directors
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Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle
Boyle in November 2008
Born Daniel Boyle
(1956-10-20) 20 October 1956 [1]
Radcliffe, Lancashire, England, UK
Alma mater Bangor University
Occupation Director, producer, screenwriter
Years active 1980–present

Daniel "Danny" Boyle (born 20 October 1956)[1] is an English film director, producer, screenwriter and theatre director, known for his work on films such as Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, The Beach, 28 Days Later, Slumdog Millionaire, Sunshine, and 127 Hours. Boyle's 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire was nominated for 10 Academy Awards and won 8, including the Academy Award for Best Director. Boyle was presented with the Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award at the 2008 Austin Film Festival, where he also introduced that year's AFF Audience Award Winner Slumdog Millionaire.

In 2012, Boyle was the Artistic Director for Isles of Wonder, the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Summer Olympic Games.[2] He was subsequently offered a knighthood as part of the New Year Honours, but declined.[3] In 2014, it was announced that Boyle would become a patron of HOME in Manchester.[4]


  • Early life and background 1
  • Career 2
    • Theatre 2.1
    • Television 2.2
    • Films 2.3
  • Awards 3
  • Filmography 4
    • Film 4.1
    • Television 4.2
  • References 5
  • Further reading 6
  • External links 7

Early life and background

Daniel Boyle was born on 20 October 1956[1] in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester to Irish parents from County Galway.[5][6] Although he now describes himself as a "spiritual atheist",[7] he was brought up in a working class Irish Catholic environment. Boyle was an altar boy for eight years and his mother had the priesthood in mind for him, but aged 14 he was persuaded by a priest not to transfer from school to a seminary.[8]

Whether he was saving me from the priesthood or the priesthood from me, I don't know. But quite soon after, I started doing drama. And there's a real connection, I think. All these directors — Martin Scorsese, John Woo, M. Night Shyamalan — they were all meant to be priests. There's something very theatrical about it. It’s basically the same job — poncing around, telling people what to think.[9][10]

He later studied at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton,[11] and studied English and Drama at Bangor University.[5][12] While at university, Boyle dated the actress Frances Barber.[13]

Boyle is the patron of North West-based young people's substance misuse charity, Early Break, which was founded and based in his home town of Radcliffe. Boyle is also a trustee of the UK-based African arts charity Dramatic Need.[14]

In 2010, The Tablet named him as one of Britain’s most influential Roman Catholics.[15]



Boyle with the cast of The Children's Monologues in 2010

Upon leaving school he began his career at the Joint Stock Theatre Company, before moving onto the Royal Court Theatre in 1982 where he directed The Genius by Howard Brenton and Saved by Edward Bond. He also directed five productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company.[16] On 14 November 2010, he directed a one night play at the Old Vic Theatre titled The Children's Monologues with Sir Ben Kingsley, Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hiddleston, Gemma Arterton and Eddie Redmayne as the cast. In 2011 he directed Frankenstein for the National Theatre.[17] This production was broadcast to cinemas as a part of National Theatre Live on 17 March 2011.[18]

Boyle was Artistic Director for the 2012 Summer Olympics Opening Ceremony in London. Over the years, Olympic Opening Ceremonies have become multi-million pound theatrical shows, which have become known for their extravagance and pageantry to celebrate the start of the largest multi-sport event in the world. The ceremony, entitled Isles of Wonder, charted aspects of British culture, including the Industrial Revolution and British contributions to literature, music, film and technology. Reception to the ceremony was generally positive, both nationally in the United Kingdom and internationally.[19][20][21][22] In December 2012 it was widely reported that Boyle turned down a knighthood in the New Year Honours list. He told BBC Radio 4 “I’m very proud to be an equal citizen and I think that’s what the Opening Ceremony was actually about.” In 2014, it was announced that Boyle would become a patron of HOME in Manchester.[23]


In 1987 Boyle started working in television as a producer for BBC Northern Ireland where he produced, amongst other TV films, Alan Clarke's controversial Elephant before becoming a director on shows such as Arise And Go Now, Not Even God Is Wise Enough, For The Greater Good, Scout and two[24] episodes of Inspector Morse. These were Masonic Mysteries and Cherubim and Seraphim. He was also responsible for the BBC2 series Mr. Wroe's Virgins.[16] Danny Boyle is not to be confused with a different Daniel Boyle, who is not related, who scripted five original teleplays for Inspector Morse at about this time, and who has continued to write and adapt crime stories for television including the first episode of Lewis, and much of the popular series Hamish Macbeth.[25]

In between the films The Beach and 28 Days Later Boyle directed two TV films for the BBC in 2001 – Vacuuming Completely Nude In Paradise and Strumpet.[26] He has also appeared on Top Gear and drove the fastest wet lap at that time.


Boyle's love for film began with his first viewing of Apocalypse Now:

It had eviscerated my brain, completely. I was an impressionable twenty-one-year-old guy from the sticks. My brain had not been fed and watered with great culture, you know, as art is meant to do. It had been sandblasted by the power of cinema. And that’s why cinema, despite everything we try to do, it remains a young man's medium, really, in terms of audience.[27]

The first film Boyle directed was Shallow Grave.[16] The film was the most commercially successful British film of 1995[28] and led to the production of Trainspotting, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh.[29] Working with writer John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald, Shallow Grave earned Boyle the Best Newcomer Award from the 1996 London Film Critics Circle.[28] Shallow Grave and Trainspotting caused critics to claim that Boyle had revitalised British cinema in the early '90s.[16]

He then moved to Hollywood and sought a production deal with a major US studio. He declined an offer to direct the fourth film of the Alien franchise, instead making A Life Less Ordinary using British finance.[30][31]

Boyle's next project was an adaptation of the cult novel The Beach. Filmed in Thailand with Leonardo DiCaprio in a starring role, casting of the film led to a feud with Ewan McGregor, star of his first three films.[16] He then collaborated with author Alex Garland on the post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later.[32]

He also directed a short film Alien Love Triangle (starring Kenneth Branagh), and was intended to be one of three shorts within a feature film. However the project was cancelled after the two other shorts were made into feature films: Mimic starring Mira Sorvino and Impostor starring Gary Sinise.[33]

In 2004 Boyle directed Millions,[9] scripted by Frank Cottrell Boyce.[34] His next collaboration with Alex Garland[9] was the science-fiction film Sunshine, featuring 28 Days Later star Cillian Murphy, and was released in 2007.[35]

In 2008 he directed Slumdog Millionaire, the story of an impoverished child (Dev Patel) on the streets of Mumbai, India who competes on India's version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, for which Boyle won an Academy Award. The film won eight Academy Awards in total.[36] "To be a have to lead. You have to be psychotic in your desire to do something. People always like the easy route. You have to push very hard to get something unusual, something different."[16] Andrew Macdonald, producer of Trainspotting, said "Boyle takes a subject that you've often seen portrayed realistically, in a politically correct way, whether it's junkies or slum orphans, and he has managed to make it realistic but also incredibly uplifting and joyful."[16]

In 2010, Boyle directed the film 127 Hours, starring James Franco and featuring Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara. It was based on Aron Ralston's autobiography Between a Rock and a Hard Place, which detailed his struggle of being trapped under a boulder while canyoneering alone in Blue John Canyon, southeastern Utah, and resorting to desperate measures in order to survive. The film was released on 5 November 2010 to critical acclaim. The film got six nominations at the 83rd Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay for Boyle and Best Actor for Franco.

Boyle's next film was Trance, while another installment of the 28 Days Later franchise is in the development stages.[37][38] Boyle has stated previously that in theory the third installment of the series would be titled 28 Months Later, but alluded to a film taking place somewhere else in the world he created in 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later. He is also stated to be producing the upcoming film Paani.[39] He will also direct Ponte Tower.[40] He will direct the upcoming sequel to Trainspotting.[41]

Boyle told an interviewer about the eclectic range of his films, "There's a theme running through all of them—and I just realised this. They're all about someone facing impossible odds and overcoming them."[42]

In a webchat interview with Empire, Boyle stated on more than one occasion his enthusiasm to work again with Ewan McGregor on his next feature film.

Due to his interest in music, Boyle has mentioned in interviews that he has considered a musical film with original compositions. Boyle has also expressed interest in an animated film, and, in 2013, a sequel to 28 Weeks Later.[43]

Boyle's eponymous biopic of Apple Inc. founder Steve Jobs closed the 59th BFI London Film Festival. This was the third time Boyle has had that honour, after Slumdog Millionaire in 2008 and 127 Hours two years later. The BFI's London Film Festival Director, Clare Stewart, said Boyle had created an exhilarating and audacious film about a complex, charismatic pioneer.[44]

On September 7, 2015, at the Telluride Film Festival, Boyle stated his next film would be a sequel to Trainspotting, tentatively titled Trainspotting 2.[45]


Boyle at Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada, 10 September 2008



Year Film Director Producer Writer Notes
1994 Shallow Grave Yes
1996 Trainspotting Yes
1997 Twin Town Yes Credited as executive producer
1997 A Life Less Ordinary Yes
2000 The Beach Yes
2002 28 Days Later Yes
2004 Millions Yes
2007 Sunshine Yes
2007 28 Weeks Later Yes Credited as executive producer
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Yes
2008 Alien Love Triangle Yes Short
2010 127 Hours[46] Yes Yes Yes
2013 Trance Yes Yes
2015 Steve Jobs Yes Yes
2017 Paani Yes
TBA Ponte Tower Yes


Year Show Director Producer Writer Notes
1987 The Rockingham Shoot Yes TV film
1987 Scout Yes TV film
1987 The Venus de Milo Instead Yes TV film
1989 Elephant Yes TV short
1989 Monkeys Yes Yes TV film
1989 The Nightwatch Yes Yes TV film
1989–1993 Screenplay Yes 3 episodes
1990–1992 Inspector Morse Yes 2 episodes
1991 For the Greater Good Yes TV film
1993 Mr. Wroe's Virgins Yes
2001 Strumpet Yes TV film
2001 Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise Yes TV film
2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony Yes Yes
2014–present Babylon Yes Yes


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  4. ^ Stage New Manchester venue Home appoints Danny Boyle as patron
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  18. ^ Frankenstein - Productions - National Theatre
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  23. ^ Stage New Manchester venue Home appoints Danny Boyle as patron
  24. ^
  25. ^ Agent's webpage for Daniel Boyle (writer)
  26. ^
  27. ^ Boyle, Danny. Interview by Robert K. Elder. The Film That Changed My Life by Robert K. Elder. Chicago: Chicago Review Press, 2011. N. p28. Print.
  28. ^ a b Mayer & McDonnell 2007, pp. 377–380.
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  34. ^ Frank Cottrell Boyce: Writersroom. BBC.
  35. ^
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  38. ^, " UPDATED: Exclusive: Danny Boyle Directing the Next 28 Days Later Sequel". Accessed 18 October 2010.
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Further reading

External links

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