Interview: Sunshine Director Danny Boyle

On Monday July 16th I had the chance to sit down with Trainspotting/28 Days Later director Danny Boyle about his new film Sunshine.

Fifty years from now, the sun is dying and a solar winter has enveloped the earth.  Our last hope: a spaceship and a crew of eight men and women.  They carry a device which will breathe new life into the star.  But deep into their voyage, out of radio contact with Earth, their mission is starting to unravel.  Soon the crew is fighting not only for their sanity, but their lives.

Boyle is everything you would expect – courteous, excited, intelligent, reserved yet frank and uncensored. You can listen to our entire round table interview with Danny Boyle below. We have provided chapter points after the jump.

Danny Boyle on the Influences of Sunshine:

There are three huge, titanic, space movies which if you ever make a film like this you cannot avoid. You may want to avoid them but you cannot. I've never known a genre like it where you are dictated to by these films, 2001, Alien, and Tarkovsky's Solaris. Believe me, they hover over you the whole time and sometimes you just have to tip you hat to them — reference them in some way. They are there and you're judged against them, not just on whether the film ultimately works as a film but technically. The way you depict space has been dictated by those three films and you have to get to that level. And I had no idea how intimidating that level was, when I set out to make it.

There are a lot of space movies that don't get to that level, because they don't have enough money or time, or people weren't willing to make that effort. The effort involve in depicting this place is staggering. There were other influences as well like Das Boot, and Wages of Fear. There are lots of films you use as a kind of help to you but those three in particular.

Apocalypse Now is my favorite film and it's known as The Heart of Darkness film because it's loosely based on the Joseph Conrad book. And we always said that our starting point for this film was a "Journey into the Heart of Lightness." There are certain rhythmical similarities. It's a journey and at the end of the journey is a fantastic, a madman who's seen the light in his own way. Structurally you could compare it to Apocalypse Now which has a similar shade to it's journey as far as shape is concerned.

00:10 Comparisons to Apocalypse Now

01:10 Influencing Sunshine: The Three Big Space Films

02:45 Determining the Pace: The reality of Space is SLOW

04:00 Rules that you must Follow in a Space Movie

05:00 Editing Sunshine

05:30 Creating Chemistry Between The Actors: Rooming in a Dorm

07:00 Good Death Scenes

07:30 Experiences in Russia

08:30 Old Technology is Reliable

09:30 Russian Response to the Film

10:15 Extreme Contrasts

12:00 Action Movies Linked to Cinema

12:45 The Big Issues

14:15 28 Months Later: A third 28 Days Later Idea

15:15 Witnessing in Pursuing the Theme of Encounter

17:45 Witnessing is Universal

18:15 On Behalf of "For All Mankind"

18:45 Casting Cillian Murphy

20:20 95% of the Audience doesn't Care About the Director or His Theories

21:30 Optimism and Humor in Danny's Films

24:00 His Comments on Eli Roth

24:30 Michael Bay

25:15 Making a Lower Budget Sci-Fi Space Film

27:00 Explaining Sunshine's Villain