English director Danny Boyle exploded onto the movie scene in 1996 with “Trainspotting”; now, after making “28 Days Later,” “Slumdog Millionaire” and “127 Hours,” he’s looking back with “T2 Trainspotting,” a surprisingly thoughtful, exciting sequel.
“I never really understood how editing is the art form of time,” Boyle said during a recent visit to The City to promote the movie, which opens Friday. “All you do in editing is you extend time or you compress it, or, even more godlike, you stop it. And no other art form can do it.”
This pondering of time, especially the idea of going to a high school reunion and realizing how much time has passed by looking at your old friends, is what spurred Boyle and his collaborators to revisit the cinematic classic about young heroin addicts in Scotland, based on a book by Irvine Welsh,
“For me, you have to have a belief system: how you’re making it and why you’re making it,” Boyle says. “It’s weird to think that you can make films without this, but people do. If it doesn’t work, what do you stand behind?”
Getting down to the practicalities, Boyle realized that if any of his four original trainspotters — Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner or Jonny Lee Miller — did not want to be involved, he wouldn’t make the film.
“It doesn’t matter that Ewan McGregor might have a more powerful agent than Ewen Bremner,” he says. “It’s four of you, you’ll all be the same, and you’ll be paid the same, which is not much.”
Since the actors and the director, as well as screenwriter John Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald all started together, and all benefited from the original film, there was no ego involved.
“You can’t get grand and go ‘Oh, I have an Oscar and you haven’t,’ or anything like that. Just get on with it! It was refreshing,” he smiles. “It’s like cold air in your lungs!”
The shoot was short and quick, with no time for messing around. Carlyle and Miller were still under contract with their TV shows (“Once Upon a Time” and “Elementary,” respectively) and could have been called away at any time.
“You learn how important restrictions are,” Boyle says. “In our minds, we love a box. How are we going to get out of this box? But if you can have as many boxes as you like, it’s ‘What are we gonna do with all these boxes?’”
IF YOU GO
Starring Ewan McGregor, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller
Written by John Hodge
Directed by Danny Boyle
Running time 1 hour, 57 minutes