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Danny Boyle on 'Trance' and keeping sane during London Olympics

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After Danny Boyle's prominent role at last year's London Summer Olympics, the British filmmaker is back in the spotlight with his first film since 2010's "127 Hours."
/ Source: Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - After Danny Boyle's prominent role at last year's London Summer Olympics, the British filmmaker is back in the spotlight with his first film since 2010's "127 Hours."

"Trance," which had its world premiere in London on Tuesday, stars James McAvoy as Simon, a man who teams with a criminal (Vincent Cassel) to steal a painting, but who suffers a blow to the head which causes him to have no memory of where he hid it.

A hypnotherapist (Rosario Dawson) is brought in to help, but as Simon's subconscious mind is probed more deeply, the more the lines between truth, lies and suggestion are blurred.

Part caper, part psychological thriller, "Trance" is another radical departure from Boyle's previous work, which has ranged from the story of a Mumbai teen's rise from the slums in Oscar-winning "Slumdog Millionaire," to a man trapped under a boulder in "127 Hours," to the horror thriller "28 Days Later."

Yet Boyle feels his films are not all that different from one another.

"The truth is, they're all the same," he told Reuters in an interview in Los Angeles. "Basically it's always about a guy who faces insurmountable odds and overcomes them. And that's where you get a lift at the end of the movies."

"Trance," said Boyle, follows that same vein, except "you don't know which" of the three main characters will be overcoming the odds when the movie starts.

The film will be released in the UK on March 27, and on April 5 in the United States.

Boyle, 56, initially planned on shooting the film in New York before he was asked to be the artistic director for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.

Instead, he shot "Trance" in the British capital at night while working on the Olympics ceremony during the day.


Little did Boyle realize that he would be the one who faced insurmountable odds in a personal tale where his only weapon in taking on the Olympics became his Academy Award for directing the 2008 film "Slumdog."

In an upcoming book about his Olympics experience, Boyle talks of chaos behind the scenes and arguments with organizers over penny-pinching on costumes and musical instruments, and a dispute over a sponsorship deal with Dow Chemical Co.

The memoir "Danny Boyle: Creating Wonder" will be published in April. According to excerpts that ran in Britain's Sunday Times newspaper last weekend, Boyle came close to walking away from the Olympics job over a decision by Britain's Defense Ministry to deploy ground-to-air missiles on buildings close to the Olympic stadium in a crowded area of East London.

"There's so many people who are so paranoid and so corporate," Boyle told Reuters of the multiple cooks in the Olympic kitchen. "They want to head for safety first and you have to make sure they don't distort the show."

"I did bash people over the head with the Academy Award (win)," he continued. "I was shameless. You wouldn't have recognized me in some of those meetings because I was not a very nice guy."

Boyle, who describes himself as normally "very affable," said he had to trot out his Oscar credentials in order to protect his vision, and when he felt he was being manipulated by London Olympics organizers.

"They're so terrified for the wrong headline, that you offer them the ultimate headline, which is, 'OK, we'll walk away then, shall we?' That's not going to read very well in the newspapers!"

Ultimately, Boyle's vision - which included a much-talked about skit involving Queen Elizabeth and Daniel Craig as James Bond - prevailed and was the most-viewed Olympic opening ceremony in both the United States and Britain.

"'Trance' kept us sane," Boyle said of his schedule at that time. "It seems curious saying that about a film that's sort of about insanity in a way. But it was crucial to our sanity during the Olympics that we were able to do this film."

(Reporting by Zorianna Kit; editing by Jill Serjeant and Matthew Lewis)