INTERVIEW - 'Sunshine' director Boyle vows no return to space

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Danny Boyle never wants to direct another science fiction film, which may sound odd coming from a man whose recent movies featured zombies and aliens.

British director Danny Boyle attends the International Film Festival in Berlin in this February 12, 2000 file photo. REUTERS/Michael Urban

Boyle’s new movie, “Sunshine,” debuts in major U.S. cities on Friday telling of a mission to save the dying Sun. Despite good reviews, Boyle told Reuters he has had it with science fiction because he has now conquered his fear of it, and besides the genre is just plain hard to make.

“They are really tough, they’re very tough,” Boyle said. “I would recommend it to everybody. You should do one. But nobody does more than one -- unless they’re doing a ‘Stars Wars’ or something like that -- no director goes back into space.”

To be fair, the 50 year-old British director said none of his previous movies fit into the science fiction genre, but, like “Sunshine,” the films are truly about people operating under extreme conditions.

In fact, his zombie flick “28 Days Later” tells of people trying to live through an apocalyptic point in history, and the director is perhaps best known for “Trainspotting,” about a heroin addict trying to kick his habit.

“Sunshine” is set 50 years in the future when the sun is near death, along with everything on Earth. So a spaceship and crew of eight men and women blasts off to deliver a device that will breathe new life into the dying star.

But as the crew, which includes actors Rose Byrne, Chris Evans, Cillian Murphy and Michelle Yeoh, enter deep space and lose contact with Earth, they must fight to retain their sanity and save their lives.


Boyle said he and writer Alex Garland set the film 50 years in the future to keep the technology “recognizable” for the audience, yet he had to master visual effects to bring it up to par with Hollywood-style space adventures.

He added that he always had a vision for making “Sunshine,” but that he knew absolutely nothing about the computer graphics used to create visual effects.

Yet, his “fear of the unknown” challenged him, and he said conquering it is as much a motivation today as it was in 1994 with his first movie, “Shallow Grave,” about three mates who find a very strange, fourth companion to share their flat.

Boyle said he had a second mission with “Sunshine” that went beyond learning about visual effects. He wanted to re-experience the “innocence” of making that initial film.

“You never make a better film than your first one,” Boyle said. “You make technically better films and they might be more successful, but there’s something about that kind of innocence where you don’t kind of know what your doing.”

“One of the ways to try and get back to the first film is to take on something that you have never done before because it puts you in that state of fear again,”he said.

With a sci-fi space adventure now under his belt, Boyle has moved on to his next film, “Slum Dog Millionaire,” which starts production this fall in the chaotic Indian city of Mumbai with a full Indian cast and parts of the script in Hindi, which Boyle does not speak.

But his fans should not expect another Indian movie after “Slum Dog.” Boyle’s ultimate goal is to direct an original musical, he said.

“Can you do it?,” he asked himself. “Very tough.”