Two decades have passed since the original “Trainspotting” rushed into cinemas and became one of the defining films of the ’90s. It boosted the careers of everyone involved with the monster smash hit and surged the already rising director Danny Boyle onto the global stage. But where our current film climate immediate thinks of sequels in the wake of any kind of success, the filmmaker says that at the time, it was far from his his mind.
“No, we didn’t think [we should make a sequel when we made the first film],” he told Nerdist. “What we should have done — proper sequels you move straight away, you bring out the next one quite quickly afterwards. That’s the commercial thinking anyway, but we never even imagined that.”
Rather, when embarking on “T2 Trainspotting” many years after the fact, it was with a sense of foreboding at what might happen if they went wrong.
“The terror was that it would be bad because then you would never be forgiven for having returned to something that people had such affection for and then made a shit film,” Boyle explained. “And that was the only pressure I ever felt. Sometimes I would see the actors looking at me and I could tell what they were thinking: ‘This better not be shit, Danny. We love it, but it better not be shit.’ ”
Indeed, it sounds like Boyle perhaps even overthought making the sequel, as he reveals that at first, he didn’t even want to use the name “Trainspotting” in the title.
“This is the weird thing, we never wanted it to be called ‘Trainspotting.’ The rational part of my brain knows we’re going to have to use the title ‘Trainspotting’ somewhere in it, but [screenwriter] John Hodge and I, we had this insistence that we were going to call it something different and nothing to do with ‘Trainspotting.’ In fact, it was going to be called, ‘The Least Unfamiliar,’ which is a terrible title and we knew it was, but we were defiantly saying it’s gotta be called that because it may not have anything to do with the first film,” Boyle said. “We may not even refer to it. It’s got to be it’s own thing, it has to have its own identity. You mustn’t judge it as a sequel straight away, which is what everybody does of course, so you cling on to that for as long as possible and eventually give in. But you hold on as long as you can to make sure it has its own identity.”
With the sequel now about of the way, Boyle’s next project is the FX limited series “Trust.” But there is one genre the filmmaker has yet to cross off his bucket list.
“A musical, oh yeah,” he said emphatically. “For any director an original musical is the ultimate holy grail, absolutely. It’s the purest form of cinema. If you can get your characters to sing, absolutely believe it and go with it — that’s the ultimate degree of difficulty. That’s the top one.”
Indeed, Boyle has kicked the tires on several musical projects over the years — “My Fair Lady,” “Miss Saigon,” and even a movie using the music of David Bowie — but none got off the ground. And even “Millions” was initially positioned as a musical before it changed creative directions. Which is a shame because he had some big talent potentially involved.
“We were going to make a musical [with] the kids film we made ‘Millions,’ ” Boyle said. “Because you look at the ingredients of it, that is a musical. But we chickened out of it. We were going to get Noel Gallagher to write the songs, I remember, and get the kids to sing and we chickened out of it. Me and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce, we kept flirting with [the idea], but we lacked the confidence. Now I’d do it. If you come act across an idea like that? Because it has a beautiful simplicity to it that suits the musical. There’s something ultimately very hopeful to it.”
Much more with Boyle in the podcast talk below. “T2 Trainspotting” is now playing in limited release.