How do you follow a phenomenon like Trainspotting? Director DANNY BOYLE has the answers. Words: Nigel Floyd
VIEWED SUPERFlClALLY, THE first American-set ﬁlm from the team that gave us Shallow Grave and Trainspotting — director Danny Boyle, producer Andrew Macdonald and scriptwriter John Hodge — might seem like a radical departure.
‘In fact,’ explains Boyle, ‘John started writing A Life Less Ordinary before we did Trainspotting, although he only finished about a third of it, maybe less. At that time it was much more violent, but once we’d been through that Trainspotting media circus, we all wanted to do something very different, so we started to drag it round to being more romantic, and hopefully more surprising.‘
A Life Less Ordinary is far from your usual ﬂuffy, sentimental romantic comedy. The team’s favourite leading man Ewan McGregor plays dreamy cleaner Robert, whose unexpected sacking prompts the inept kidnapping of his boss’s daughter Celine (Cameron Diaz). However, as they ﬂee across country, Robert ﬁnds himself being pushed around by his feisty victim, pursued by a pair of celestial cops (Holly Hunter and Delroy Lindo), and beset by a bizarre dream in which his heart explodes.
The team’s model was the tougher, snappier style of romantic comedy that prevailed in the l930s and 403 — films like the Clarke Gable/Claudette Colbert classic It Happened One Night, in which the battle of the sexes was fought with sharp tongues and rapier Wit.
‘We wanted to make it tough and unsentimental,‘ says Boyle, ‘and the key to that was to reverse the genders of the two lead characters. Practically the only thing we said
A llFE LESS ORDINARY
Road rage: Ewan McGregor has a spot of car trouble
to Ewan and Cameron was that he should play more to his feminine side. while she should play to her tougher. more masculine side.’
Many an actor, particularly in America, would have balked at the idea of playing a kidnapper who gets pushed around, patronised and humiliated by his ostensible victim. McGregor, though, embraced the challenge with characteristic enthusiasm.
‘The great thing about Ewan is that he’s got this incredible verve for doing anything, as long as it’s not something he’s done before,’ enthuses Boyle. ‘He likes to do something different every time, and to see just how far he can push it. As a result, he’s got no fear. So
‘Ewan's got this incredible verve for doing anything, as long as it's not something he's done before. ' Danny Boyle
although his character is weak, gets led around by the nose. and cries pitifully, as an actor he doesn’t care.’
The casting of Cameron Diaz was equally crucial. Debuting merely as a ‘looker’ in The Mask, she has since revealed a more ambitious dramatic range in American independent movies and opposite Julia Roberts in My Best Friend 's Wedding. Boyle says there were three reasons why Diaz stood out from the dozens of gorgeous. gifted women they auditioned for the role of Celine. The first was her filthy laugh. matched by a wicked sense of humour; the second was that, like her co-star, Diaz was determined to stretch herself and ready to try anything; the third was an intuitive sense that she would fit in with the ‘family’ of actors and technicians Boyle and company have gathered around them.
24 Oct—6 Nov 1997TIIELIST11