Danny Boyle

Danny Boyle
Danny Boyle

Boyle in November 2008
Born Daniel Boyle
20 October 1956 (1956-10-20) (age 55)
Radcliffe, Greater Manchester, England, UK
Occupation Director/Producer
Years active 1980–present
Awards Academy Award for Best Director 2009 for Slumdog Millionaire

Daniel "Danny" Boyle (born 20 October 1956) is an English filmmaker and producer. He is best known for his work on films such as Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours, 28 Days Later, Sunshine and Trainspotting. For Slumdog Millionaire, Boyle won numerous awards in 2008, 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. On 17 June 2010, it was announced that he will be the artistic director for the 2012 Olympic games opening ceremony.[1]


Early life and background

Boyle was born on 20 October 1956 in Radcliffe, Lancashire,(now in the modern day metropolitan borough of Bury, Greater Manchester)[2] into a working-class Irish Catholic family. His mother was from Ballinasloe in County Galway, and his father was born in England to an Irish family.[3]

It was a very strict, Catholic family. I was an altar boy for eight years, I was supposed to be a priest and really, it was my mother's fondest wish that I would become one.[3]

When he was 14 years old, Boyle applied to transfer from his local school to a seminary near Wigan, but was dissuaded from doing so by a priest. During an interview with The Times for his film Millions, he said:

I was meant to be a priest until I was 14, I was going to transfer to a seminary near Wigan. But this priest, Father Conway, took me aside and said, ‘I don’t think you should go’. 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.[4][5]

He studied at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton,[6] and at Bangor University.[2] While at university Boyle dated the actress Frances Barber.[7] Boyle has three children with ex-girlfriend Gail Stevens who is the casting director on his films. [8]

Boyle is a trustee of the UK-based, African arts charity Dramatic Need.[9]

Boyle is also a fan of the football team Bury FC



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 Genius by Howard Brenton and Saved by Edward Bond. He also directed five productions for the Royal Shakespeare Company.[10] In 2011 he directed Frankenstein for the National Theatre.[11] This production was broadcast to cinemas as a part of National Theatre Live on 17th March 2011.[12]


In 1982 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[13] episodes of Inspector Morse. These were Masonic Mysteries, and Cherubim and Seraphim. He was also responsible for the BBC2 series Mr. Wroe's Virgins.[10] 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 much of the popular series Hamish Macbeth.[14]

In between the films The Beach and 28 Days Later Boyle directed two TV movies for the BBC in 2001 – Vacuuming Completely Nude In Paradise and Strumpet.[15] 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.[16]

The first movie Boyle directed was Shallow Grave.[10] The film was the most commercially successful British film of 1995[17] and led to the production of Trainspotting, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh.[18] Working with writer John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald, Shallow Grave earned Boyle the Best Newcomer Award from the 1996 London Film Critics Circle.[17] Shallow Grave and Trainspotting caused critics to claim that Boyle had revitalised British cinema in the early 90's.[10]

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.[19][20]

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.[10] He then collaborated with author Alex Garland on the post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later.[21]

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.[22]

In 2004 Boyle directed Millions,[4] scripted by Frank Cottrell Boyce.[23] His next collaboration with Alex Garland[4] was the science-fiction film Sunshine, starring 28 Days Later star Cillian Murphy, and was released in 2007.[24]

In 2008 he directed Slumdog Millionaire, the story of an impoverished child (Dev Patel) on the streets of Mumbai who competes on India's variant of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, for which Boyle won an Academy Award. The film won eight Academy Awards in total.[25] "To be a film-maker...you 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."[10] 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."[10]

In 2010, Boyle directed the film 127 Hours, starring James Franco, 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 near Moab, Utah and resorting to desperate measures in order to survive. The film was released on 5 November 2010 to critical acclaim and to which Franco received an Oscar nomination.

Boyle's next film will be another installment of the 28 Days Later franchise.[26] Boyle has stated previously that in theory it will be a sequel titled 28 Months Later, but alluded to a film taking place somewhere else in the world he created in 28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later. He will also help produce the upcoming film Paani.

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

Recurring collaborators

Cast/Crew Shallow Grave Trainspotting A Life Less Ordinary The Beach Strumpet Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise 28 Days Later Millions 28 Weeks Later Sunshine Slumdog Millionaire 127 Hours Frankenstein (Play)
Ewan McGregor
Christopher Eccleston
Keith Allen
Peter Mullan
Robert Carlyle
Jonny Lee Miller
Jukka Hiltunen
Cillian Murphy
Naomie Harris
Rose Byrne
John Hodge
Alex Garland
John Murphy
Anthony Dod Mantle
Simon Beaufoy


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

Shallow Grave

  • 1995 Angers European First Film Festival
    • Audience Award, feature film.
    • Best Screenplay, feature film.
    • Liberation Advertisement Award.
  • 1995 BAFTA – Alexander Korda Award for best British film (shared with Andrew Macdonald).[17]
  • 1995 Cognac Festival du Film Policier
    • Audience Award.
    • Grand Prix.
  • 1994 Dinard British Film Festival
    • Golden Hitchcock.
  • 1996 Empire Award
    • Best Director.
  • 1996 Evening Standard British Film Award
    • Most Promising Newcomer.
  • 1995 Fantasporto (Portugal)
    • International Fantasy Film Award, Best Film.
  • 1994 San Sebastian International Film Festival
    • Silver Seashell, Best Director.


  • 1997 BAFTA Scotland Awards
    • Best Feature Film.
  • 1997 Bodil Award (Denmark)
    • Best Non-American Film (Bedste ikke-amerikanske film)
  • 1997 Czech Lions
    • Best Foreign Language Film (Nejlepší zahraniční film)
  • 1997 Empire Award
    • Best Director.
  • 1996 Seattle International Film Festival
    • Golden Space Needle Award, Best Director.
  • 1996 Warsaw International Film Festival
    • Audience Award.

28 Days Later

  • 2003 Fantasporto (Portugal)
    • Grand Prize of European Fantasy Film in Silver.
    • International Fantasy Film Award, Best Director.
  • 2003 Neuchâtel International Fantasy Film Festival
    • Best International Film.

Slumdog Millionaire

  • 2009 Academy Awards
    • Best Director
  • 2008 Austin Film Festival
    • Audience Award, out of competition feature.
  • 2009 BAFTA
    • Best Director
  • 2008 British Independent Film Awards
    • Best Director
  • 2009 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards
    • Best Director
  • 2008 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
    • Best Director
  • 2008 Chicago International Film Festival
    • Audience Choice Award
  • 2009 Golden Globes
    • Best Director – Motion Picture
  • 2008 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards
    • Best Director
  • 2008 Satellite Awards
    • Best Director
  • 2008 Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards
    • Best Director
  • 2008 St. Louis International Film Festival
    • Audience Choice Award – Best International Feature
  • 2008 Toronto International Film Festival
    • Audience Choice Award

Career awards


Released films
Year Film Role Notes
1994 Shallow Grave Director BAFTA Award for Best British Film
1996 Trainspotting Director Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best British Film
1997 A Life Less Ordinary Director
2000 The Beach Director
2002 28 Days Later Director
2004 Millions Director
2007 Sunshine Director
2007 28 Weeks Later Executive Producer
2008 Slumdog Millionaire Director Academy Award for Best Picture
Academy Award for Best Director
BAFTA Award for Best Direction
British Independent Film Award for Best Director
Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Director
Directors Guild of America Award for Outstanding Directing in a Feature Film
European Film Awards – Audience Award
Florida Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director
Golden Globe Award for Best Director
Houston Film Critics Society Award for Best Director
London Film Critics' Circle Award for Best British Director of the Year
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
New York Film Critics Online Award for Best Director
Oklahoma Film Critics Circle Award for Best Director
Phoenix Film Critics Society Award for Best Director
San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Director
Satellite Award for Best Director
Southeastern Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
St. Louis Gateway Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Toronto International Film Festival People's Choice Award
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Director
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best British Film
2010 127 Hours[28] Director
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Picture
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Direction
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best British Film
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Adapted Screenplay
Nominated - Golden Globe Award for Best Screenplay
Nominated - Independent Spirit Award for Best Director
Nominated - Independent Spirit Award for Best Film

Filmography by awards

As Director

Year Film Academy Award Nominations Academy Award Wins Golden Globe Nominations Golden Globe Wins BAFTA Nominations BAFTA Wins
1994 Shallow Grave 1 1
1996 Trainspotting 1 3 1
1997 A Life Less Ordinary
2000 The Beach
2002 28 Days Later
2004 Millions
2007 Sunshine
2008 Slumdog Millionaire 10 8 4 4 11 7
2010 127 Hours 6 3 8
Total 17 8 7 4 23 9
Planned films
  • Untitled 28 Weeks Later Sequel (TBA)[29]
  • Ponte Tower (TBA)[30]
  • Trainspotting sequel (TBA)[31]
  • Paani (producer)[32]
  • Trance (2013)

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 movie.[33]

Further reading


  1. ^ Hedgecoe, Guy (17 June 2010). "Danny Boyle to oversee 2012 Olympic ceremony". Associated Press. Yahoo! Sports. http://sports.yahoo.com/olympics/news;_ylt=AlRtJ3NWLCcmq_zjQzgRRLlAyMIF?slug=ap-london2012-ceremonies&print=1. 
  2. ^ a b Danny Boyle. New York Times. http://movies.nytimes.com/person/188724/Danny-Boyle/biography. Retrieved 29 October 2008 
  3. ^ a b Caden, Sarah (22 May 2005). The man who could have been pope. Sunday Independent. http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=129&si=1401311&issue_id=12514. Retrieved 23 February 2009 
  4. ^ a b c Moggach, Lottie (26 May 2005). "Danny Boyle". London: entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/film/article526377.ece. Retrieved 11 March 2009 
  5. ^ Leach, Ben (14 January 2009). "Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle almost became a priest". London: telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/4238043/Slumdog-Millionaire-director-Danny-Boyle-almost-became-a-priest.html. Retrieved 23 February 2009 
  6. ^ Dibbits, Kat (10 January 2009). "Golden Globes are calling for Danny Boyle". theboltonnews.co.uk. http://www.theboltonnews.co.uk/news/4035893.Golden_Globes_are_calling_for_Danny_Boyle/. Retrieved 25 February 2009 
  7. ^ Lewis, Tim (21 February 2009). "Bangor professor remembers ex-student Danny Boyle". walesonline.co.uk. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/2009/02/21/bangor-professor-remembers-ex-student-danny-boyle-91466-22975971/. Retrieved 23 February 2009 
  8. ^ Nick Francis (January 14, 2009). "Danny Boyle reveals that he almost joined the church before he got into drama". The Sun. http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/film/2129056/Danny-Boyle-reveals-that-he-almost-joined-the-church-before-he-got-into-drama-but-was-disuaded-by-a-priest.html. Retrieved November 2, 2011. 
  9. ^ Boyle, Danny (11 November 2008). "Why the Congo needs art as well as food". London: timesonline.co.uk. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/guest_contributors/article5126664.ece/. Retrieved 22 January 2010 [dead link]
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Grice, Elizabeth (24 February 2009). "From fleapit to the red carpet". London: Telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/comment/4789045/From-fleapit-to-the-red-carpet.html. Retrieved 11 March 2009 
  11. ^ "Danny Boyle to Direct Frankenstein for UK's National Theatre". DreadCentral. http://www.dreadcentral.com/news/35457/danny-boyle-direct-frankenstein-uks-national-theatre. 
  12. ^ http://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/63286/productions/frankenstein.html
  13. ^ "Danny Boyle Biography (1956–)". Film Reference.com. http://www.filmreference.com/film/28/Danny-Boyle.html. Retrieved 5 November 2009. 
  14. ^ http://www.blakefriedmann.co.uk/filmClients/_338/ Agent's webpage for Daniel Boyle (writer)
  15. ^ "The Danny Boyle Project, Part Five: "Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise"". Vanity Fair. http://www.vanityfair.com/online/daily/2009/03/the-danny-boyle-project-part-five-vacuuming-completely-nude-in-paradise.html. 
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ a b c Mayer & McDonnell 2007, pp. 377–380.
  18. ^ BFI Top 100 British films. BFI. 6 September 2006. http://www.bfi.org.uk/features/bfi100/1-10.html. Retrieved 23 February 2009 
  19. ^ "Bringing a ray of sunshine to British films". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2007/apr/06/film. 
  20. ^ "Danny Boyle Asked About ‘Alien 4′, ‘Lady Vengeance’, ’28 Days Later…’ Sequel, and More". WeAreMovieGeeks. http://wearemoviegeeks.com/2009/01/danny-boyle-asked-about-alien-4-lady-vengeance-28-days-later-sequel-and-more. 
  21. ^ Hiscock, John (3 April 2007). "Another bright idea from Mr Sunshine". London: telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/starsandstories/3663788/Another-bright-idea-from-Mr-Sunshine.html. Retrieved 26 February 2009 
  22. ^ Kermode, Mark (15 February 2008). "Aliens come to Wales". London: Guardian.co.uk. http://arts.guardian.co.uk/filmandmusic/story/0,,2256450,00.html. Retrieved 1 March 2008. 
  23. ^ Frank Cottrell Boyce: Writersroom. BBC.
  24. ^ "Sunshine (IMDB)". imdb.com. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0448134/. Retrieved 16 April 2010. 
  25. ^ Singh, Anita (23 February 2009). "Oscar winners: Slumdog Millionaire and Kate Winslet lead British film sweep". London: telegraph.co.uk. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/oscars/4786193/Oscar-winners-Slumdog-Millionaire-and-Kate-Winslet-triumph-in-great-night-for-British-film.html. Retrieved 23 February 2009 
  26. ^ dreadcentral.com, "UPDATED: Exclusive: Danny Boyle Directing the Next 28 Days Later Sequel". Accessed 18 October 2010.
  27. ^ "An Afternoon with Danny Boyle at Starz Denver Film Festival". Yahoo Movies News. http://movies.yahoo.com/news/usmovies.associatedcontent.com/an-afternoon-with-danny-boyle-denver-film-festival. 
  28. ^ Brooks, Xan (5 November 2009). "Danny Boyle climbs on mountaineer epic 127 Hours". The Guardian (Manchester, England: Guardian News and Media Limited). http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/2009/nov/05/danny-boyle-aron-ralston. Retrieved 5 November 2009. 
  29. ^ "Danny Boyle On '28 Months Later': It's Not Called '28 Months Later'!". MTV Movies Blog. http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2008/11/12/danny-boyle-on-28-months-later-its-not-called-28-months-later/. Retrieved 21 December 2009. 
  30. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (28 February 2007). "Danny Boyle plans thriller set at South Africa's Ponte City". Screen Daily.com (EMAP Media). http://www.screendaily.com/danny-boyle-plans-thriller-set-at-south-africas-ponte-city/4031239.article. Retrieved 5 November 2009. 
  31. ^ "Danny Boyle talks Trainspotting Sequel, Porno". /Film. http://www.slashfilm.com/2007/03/15/danny-boyle-talks-trainspotting-sequel-porno. 
  32. ^ "Danny Boyle to produce Paani". Times of India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/entertainment/bollywood/news-interviews/Danny-Boyle-to-produce-paani/articleshow/4611550.cms. Retrieved 3 June 2009. 
  33. ^ "MOVIE CON III: Danny Boyle and Christian Colson Part 3". Empire Magazine. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esZrZWQ6jcI. Retrieved 27 August 2010. 

External links

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