As Godspeed You!, a scruffy man in scrubs walks across a deserted Westminster Bridge, the sole sign of civilization being the litter that has been left behind. East Hastings by Black Emperor plays in the background. No, a scene from lockdown doesn’t exist here. This week marks the 20th anniversary of the premiere of Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic masterwork 28 Days Later.
Boyle a source in a video conversation two months earlier, “I instantly realized the film was something extremely exceptional.” “I distinctly recall thinking, ‘This is wonderful,’ as I read the first ten pages of [Alex Garland’s script].”
He grins, “It was like a quarter of a page,” describing his initial thoughts on the story. “When you heard, ‘He wanders around London alone,’ you immediately thought, ‘Oh my God!’ A abandoned London? What an incredible notion. Since COVID, it has genuinely started to haunt us. We lament the tension and overcrowding of the cities, but life as we know it may quickly empty those complaints in a variety of ways.
In the movie, Cillian Murphy plays Jim, who recovers from a coma four weeks after a terrible virus spreads throughout the nation, turning large portions of the populace into bloodthirsty zombies. Jim travels to Manchester with other survivors Selena (Naomie Harris), Hannah (Megan Burns), and Frank following that atmospheric introduction in London (Brendan Gleeson). Through a military broadcast, a treatment is offered to the patients, but as soon as Major Henry’s (Christopher Eccleston) true intentions are revealed, a vicious game of cat and mouse ensues. With a less than £7 million budget, 28 Days Later was a big success, grossing more than £73 million.
The triumph came at the perfect time for Murphy, who had spent the preceding five years producing short films and Irish independents. He fixes himself a cup of coffee and over Zoom says, “It opened doors for me.” “I was able to schedule meetings. It was significant to me since it was how I first met Christopher Nolan. He claims he will always remember his big break. Murphy and Nolan would go on to work together on six more films, including Batman Begins, Inception, and the upcoming Oppenheimer.
The Cork-born actor recalls, “Jim was written as English – and I was doing a dreadful London accent [in the audition].” “ Although we weren’t really connecting, Danny kept chasing me down, which was very kind.
“I was in awe of Danny because, before I was ever an actor, I watched [his movies Shallow Grave and Trainspotting]. Then they instructed me to “simply play him Irish,” and as I did so, I felt as like something had been opened.
After that, Murphy’s situation significantly improved—or worsened, depending on how you look at it. Murphy claims that throughout much of his time on the production, “hundreds” of flesh-eating brutes—extras dressed in ragged clothes and horrifying makeup—were “belting at” him on several sets.
The September 11 terrorist attack, he continues, “changed the world after [we finished shooting]. “Put half a fucking bus down there by Number 10 [Downing Street] now. We’d have never gotten access to Westminster Bridge. We had unrestricted entry. That is not possible today. That period has over.
Boyle concurs: “Compared to what you will recognize as city center security now, central city security was almost unrecognizably loose. That changed with the passing of the millennium, and we benefited by choosing to shoot in July at those early hours.
“We hired all these girls to be traffic marshals,” he continues. My daughter, who was 19 at the time, was one of them, and they’d ask, “Would you mind waiting here just a moment?” We’re producing a movie. It’s just odd how it operated.
Not merely the real world was set to undergo transformation. Boyle introduced a brand-new breed of boiling, rabid-dog ghouls, spilling blood from their eyes and mouths while running towards their victims, purposefully breaking away from zombie clichés. It was very different from the shufflers from Night Of The Living Dead that folks were used to.
However, who would portray these extreme monsters? According to Boyle, “We wanted [the extras] to be athletes with nearly superhuman speed so that you couldn’t escape from them.” “We employed a ton of former athletes to play a lot of the infected, so that we would have this power in them that was really pretty frightening.
He continues, “[I was interested in] that flash of flaming murderous rage you get when you’re driving a car and you just lose it. “Also, when you have rabies, there is a phase during which you get ‘hydrophobia,’ a strange fear of water that experts don’t fully explain.
“[We had] photographs of rabies victims from the 1930s being approached with a bowl of water, and the look on their faces when they see this water is completely terrifying.”
Could the two original cast members be persuaded to return to complete a trilogy after two lucrative decades (think of Slumdog Millionaire’s Oscar success and the Peaky Blinders phenomenon) and one sequel, 28 Weeks Later, were released in 2007 with Robert Carlyle, Jeremy Renner, Imogen Poots, and director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo taking over the reins?
Murphy chuckles, “I think there’s a problem with that, in that I’m 20 years older. But if I do run either Danny or Alex, I constantly bring it up. Because when I recently showed it to my kids from around four or five years ago, around Halloween, they absolutely adored it. Amazingly for a 20-year-old movie, it still holds up well. So, yes, I really like the concept and find it to be quite intriguing.
Boyle, who most recently gave us a Sex Pistols biography series, reveals that a few years ago Garland wrote 28 Months Later with “a great notion” at its core. “I’d be really inclined to do that.” Actually, that seems like a great time. Funny, I hadn’t given it much attention until you mentioned it, and then I remembered “Bang, this script!” which is once more set in England and is heavily focused on England. However, we’ll see. the unknown
It might come back into prominence because one of the things going on in the industry right now is that you need a significant reason to go to the movies since there are fewer and fewer good ones. Unless it’s something like Top Gun: Maverick or a Marvel, it’s difficult for corporations who distribute movies and for cinema chains to show movies; they struggle to get people into the theater. But if it were even halfway excellent, a third section would draw people in. We’d be there right away.