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Danny Boyle

Boyle in November 2008
Born Daniel Boyle
20 October 1956 (1956-10-20) (age 53)
Radcliffe, Lancashire, England, UK
Occupation Director/Producer
Years active 1980–present

Danny Boyle (born 20 October 1956) is a British filmmaker and producer. He is best known for his work on films such as Shallow Grave, Trainspotting, 28 Days Later and Slumdog Millionaire. For the latter Boyle won numerous awards in 2009, 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.


Early life and background

Boyle was born on 20 October 1956 in Radcliffe[1] (historically a part of Lancashire), 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.[2]

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.[2]

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.[3][4]

He studied at Thornleigh Salesian College in Bolton,[5] and at Bangor University.[1] While at university Boyle dated the actress Frances Barber.[6]

Danny Boyle is a trustee of the UK-based, African arts charity Dramatic Need[7].



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.[8] In 2010 he will direct Frankenstein for the National Theatre.[9]


In 1980 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[10] episodes of Inspector Morse. These were Masonic Mysteries and Cherubim and Seruphim. He was also responsible for the BBC2 series Mr. Wroe's Virgins.[8]

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.[citation needed]


The first movie Boyle directed was Shallow Grave.[8] The film was the most commercially successful British film of 1995[11] and led to the production of Trainspotting, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh.[12] Working with writer John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald, Shallow Grave earned Boyle the Best Newcomer Award from the 1996 London Film Critics Circle.[11] Shallow Grave and Trainspotting were two films that revitalised British cinema.[8]

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.[citation needed]

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.[8] He then collaborated with author Alex Garland on the post-apocalyptic horror film 28 Days Later.[13]

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.[14]

In 2004 Boyle directed Millions,[3], scripted by Frank Cottrell Boyce.[citation needed] His next collaboration with Alex Garland[3] was the science-fiction film Sunshine, starring 28 Days Later star Cillian Murphy, was released in 2007.[citation needed]

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.[15] "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."[8] 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."[8]

Boyle is to direct Ponte Tower, about a girl moving into South Africa's famed fifty-four story skyscraper near the end of the apartheid-era only to fall under the influence of a drug lord, as well as the film Solomon Grundy, about a baby who experiences an entire lifetime in just 6 days.[16] "Once you've had anything like a hit in the movie business it's so easy to get lost. All these people are scuttling around trying to get you to make things, suggesting things and offering deals. The pressure of what to do next is horrible."[citation needed]


Boyle at Ryerson, Canada

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).[11]
  • 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 (Nejlepsí zahranicní 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


Released films
Planned films



  1. ^ a b Danny Boyle, New York Times,, retrieved 2008-10-29 
  2. ^ a b Caden, Sarah (2005-05-22), The man who could have been pope, Sunday Independent,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  3. ^ a b c Moggach, Lottie (2005-05-26), Danny Boyle, London:,, retrieved 2009-03-11 
  4. ^ Leach, Ben (2009-01-14), Slumdog Millionaire director Danny Boyle almost became a priest,,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  5. ^ Dibbits, Kat (2009-01-10), Golden Globes are calling for Danny Boyle,,, retrieved 2009-02-25 
  6. ^ Lewis, Tim (2009-02-21), Bangor professor remembers ex-student Danny Boyle,,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  7. ^ Boyle, Danny (2008-11-11), Why the Congo needs art as well as food,,, retrieved 2010-01-22 
  8. ^ a b c d e f g Grice, Elizabeth (2009-02-24), From fleapit to the red carpet,,, retrieved 2009-03-11 
  9. ^ Danny Boyle to Direct Frankenstein for UK's National Theatre
  10. ^ "Danny Boyle Biography (1956-)". Film Retrieved 5 November 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c Mayer & McDonnell 2007, pp. 377–380.
  12. ^ BFI Top 100 British films, BFI, 2006-09-06,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  13. ^ Hiscock, John (2007-04-03), Another bright idea from Mr Sunshine,,, retrieved 2009-02-26 
  14. ^ "Aliens come to Wales".,,2256450,00.html. Retrieved 1 March 2008. 
  15. ^ Singh, Anita (2009-02-23), Oscar winners: Slumdog Millionaire and Kate Winslet lead British film sweep,,, retrieved 2009-02-23 
  16. ^
  17. ^ Brooks, Xan (5 November 2009). "Danny Boyle climbs on mountaineer epic 127 Hours". The Guardian (Manchester, England: Guardian News and Media Limited). Retrieved 5 November 2009. 
  18. ^ "Danny Boyle On '28 Months Later': It's Not Called '28 Months Later'!". MTV Movies Blog. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  19. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (28 February 2007). "Danny Boyle plans thriller set at South Africa's Ponte City". Screen (EMAP Media). Retrieved 5 November 2009. 
  20. ^


External links

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