December 11, 2008 / 9:04 PM / 10 years ago

Just A Minute With: British Director Danny Boyle

NEW YORK (Reuters) - British director Danny Boyle had never been to India before he traveled there to film “Slumdog Millionaire” — his new movie that tells the story of a Hindi street kid who rises from the slums of Mumbai and competes on a television game show to win a fortune.

English director Danny Boyle poses for a portrait during a press day for his new film "Slumdog Millionaire" in New York, October 24, 2008. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

But that did not stop the director of “Trainspotting” and “28 Days Later” from bringing India’s rich colors, culture and frenetic pace to his movie that has been generating Oscar buzz and was named best film of the year by the National Board of Review.

The 52-year-old director, who won the best director award from the Los Angeles Film Critics Association for the film, spoke to Reuters recently about how India changed him spiritually, and he recalled his earlier days growing up in Manchester and London.

On Thursday, the movie garnered four Golden Globe nominations, including one for best film drama, and in a separate interview Boyle talked briefly about the nominations.

Q. A reporter who just left your last interview called you a “rock star” and in her “top ten.”

A. “I wish I was a rock star! Well that was sort of my dream really, was to be in Led Zeppelin.”

“I remember reading about Led Zeppelin touring America and just going round and round America and never stopping touring, It was the only way you could break America. And I always think of them when I come to do these publicity tour rounds. I think I’ve got to do this, Led Zeppelin did it, I’ve got to do it!”

Q. You have said that you grew spiritually while filming in India.

A. “It is a cliche and it is completely true as well. It’s such an extraordinary thing to get your brain around. You can’t rationalize it, or control it, or organize it and that applies to directing there as well.”

Q. You grew up in an Irish Catholic family, are you agnostic or atheist now or how do you feel about organized religion after India?

A. “I am not really sure. I don’t really know. I don’t believe in a god or a deity and they don’t either believe in a god. They believe in many different gods, all of which are specific and unspecific at the same time. I like the way they approach things very much.”

Q. You grew up in Manchester (England) and music is a big part of your films, were you ever into raves or house music?

A. “Oh, yes. I have been very lucky because when I went to college, punk had just started in London and that was something I could quite massively join in, when The Clash were my band.

“And then right at the end of my youthful indulgent life, house music and rave culture really began and I was able to join in that, albeit as an old age pensioner, as a geriatric. (laughs). So I have these two musical moments that meant a huge amount to me.”

Q. Would you ever go to another one now?

A. “No. (laughs). Not at all.”

Q. What do you do these days instead of going to raves?

A. “Well I have got three kids who are pretty grown up now and I cook them food or I listen to music pretty much all the time. Still, I am quite solitary, I quite like being solitary. People imagine that I would be worried but I am quite happy on my own. I live on my own and my kids live with their mum up the street and I don’t feel any absence of anything really. It’s a very public job directing.

“So when I am not directing I am quite happy to be quite solitary really. And I do all the regular stuff like read books, all that kind of stuff.”

Q. The movie earned four Golden Globe nominations and in limited release has been packing theaters, why do you think the film resonates so well with audiences and critics?

A. Our guy (lead character) has no hope, no qualifications and yet he has the ferocity and purity of his dreams that he will get there. It’s not the money ... it’s love, and I love that about this story. He hijacks the game show for reasons of purity and love, and that’s a great story to tell.”

Q. It is ultimately an uplifting story in a way, and after many dark movies of recent awards season, do you think the mood is changing among audiences and filmmakers that is more open to heartwarming tales like the one in “Slumdog.”

A. “When you make a film, you don’t have any control the release timing, so what I look at is whether it is timeless, universal. This is about kids who come from nowhere and can make it. ... It’s ‘Rocky,’ isn’t it? Of course it is.”

Additional reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Patricia Reaney

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