A rolling stone gathers no moss, and neither does Danny Boyle. The English-born director has made a career out of confounding expectations. He exploded on the scene with gritty thrillers like "Shallow Grave" and "Trainspotting," won an Oscar for the modern fairy tale "Slumdog Millionaire" and even put James Bond and Queen Elizabeth II in the same room for the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics.
"He's such a unique voice in world cinema," James McAvoy told HuffPost Entertainment in a recent interview. "You watch a Danny Boyle movie and you know you're watching a Danny Boyle movie. That's quite interesting because they don't all look the same. They've all got different music. They're about very different things dramatically, and they have different kinds of acting styles. Somehow, they are all utterly very Danny Boyle."
McAvoy stars in Boyle's latest film, "Trance," a twisty thriller about an art heist gone awry that combines elements of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," "Inception" and even "Shallow Grave," Boyle's debut feature. With "Trance" in theaters on April 5, Boyle spoke to HuffPost Entertainment about his visual panache, the best part of winning an Oscar and who should direct the next James Bond.
There's a lot of surreal imagery in "Trance." When you're reading the script do you look for moments like that to exploit from a visual standpoint? We don't make abstract movies, we make realistic movies. Except within it, there's a surreal element that kind of pops. People ask me about the style of the movies and how I get that; I think what we do is try to heighten the realism. It is realism, but it's stretched tighter: like a guy going down a toilet in "Trainspotting," or Vincent Cassel's [exploded] head in this. I like extremes, but I wanted to stay within an acceptable sphere. I don't want it to be abstract. I just want it to have a contact with reality, so people absorb it with their knowing lives. Within that, you push it to the extreme as much as you can. I've always felt like that with movies, in order for people to go through with going to the theater -- in order for them to bother to go to a dark room with other strangers -- you've got to give them something special. You have to stretch yourself and them at the same time.
A lot of your films deal with obsessive personalities. Not just "Trainspotting," but even "127 Hours," "Slumdog Millionaire" and, of course, "Trance": James' character is obsessed with remembering what happened to him. What makes that type of character so appealing to you? Obsessive personalities are really great. They just are. There's a particular application of that here. The central premise of the movie is, as they say, five to 10 percent of the population is extremely suggestible to hypnosis. That's actually how the hypnosis thing works. They have a series of games that people are aware of, in which they are identifying the five to 10 percent in the audience. They're not stooges or actors pretending, there actually people who want to be entranced; who want that kind of change. That five to 10 percent who are susceptible are, they say, single children who role play; actors, whose fantasy life is part of their every day existence; and addictive personalities, who are obsessives and want to develop that obsession. Thank God they exist, because it makes for great drama!
Since winning an Oscar you've directed "127 Hours" and "Trance," worked on the Olympics and did a National Theater production of "Frankenstein." Did capturing Best Director free you up to do whatever you want? It's very specific in certain instances. When we were doing the Olympic games, we literally used the Academy Award statuette to hit people over the head. I would literally -- I mean, shamelessly -- say, "How dare you say that to me? I have won the Academy Award!" Behaving in an obnoxious way; almost unrecognizable. We would seriously do that, because you have to do that to get your own way in a big corporation like that.
Seriously, though, it's not something that you dwell on. You feel a modest acceptance of it is appropriate, but it does give you a confidence boost. It helps you for sure. It's a huge, lovely thing. It's amazing. I wouldn't try to pretend. You try and use it for good. You don't try and use it just to make money, because you're very well looked after anyway, financially. We would have never made "127 Hours" without it. Nobody is going to make a movie about a guy who's alone for six days and then cuts his arm off. It allows you to get things through. Then the confidence to take on the Olympic games and bash people over the head with the statue is all good [laughs].
"Slumdog Millionaire" won eight Oscars, but do you feel like that's your best film? You don't do that really. I think you probably feel protective to the ones people don't like so much -- "A Life Less Ordinary" was a big flop. So, you kind of feel affectionate to the runts of the litter, I suppose. You tend not to separate them. Also, I wouldn't advise you to trust my opinion which were the best ones; my opinion of them is extremely distorted by the experience of making them. The experience of not just making "Slumdog," which was amazing, but the experience of going through the whole promotion and the awards campaign was an extraordinary one.
You've said you didn't want to direct the next James Bond. Do you have someone in mind who would be good for that film? I think they should get that guy who did "The Raid": Gareth Evans. I'd get him to direct it. I have never seen action like in my life! I watched that in a cinema, and there were about six men on their own watching this. You could hear us all going, "Wow! That was amazing." I love discovering films like that. The other one I saw was "Chronicle" with Josh Trank. For a first film, I thought that was astonishing. "Beasts of the Southern Wild," again a first film, you go, "WHAT?" It was really worrying. These young guys are coming along and soon there'll be no work left for the rest of us.