Billy Boyd finds Ecstasy in Northern Ontario
By Anne Brodie Dec 21, 2010, 16:25 GMT
Billy Boyd says it best- he was a heroin addict before he was a Hobbit. Well, dramatic license aside, there’s an ironic truth to that.
Boyd’s a veteran stage actor and film star who landed international fame as Peregrin 'Pippin' Took, in the Lord of the Rings films. But he’s gone back to his stage roots for a film he’s making now.
While Boyd navigates massive snowdrifts in frigid Sault Ste. Marie, a town 683 kms or an 8 hour drive north of Toronto, he’s shooting Ecstasy, Irvine Welsh’ sequel to the iconic Scottish play and film Trainspotting.
Years ago, before he got into film work, Boyd was a theatre actor he starred in that ground breaking new play about heroin addicts. He didn’t land a part in the 1996 film version, but 14 years later, he’s the star of the next chapter.
Monsters and Critics spoke with Boyd from location in Sault Ste. Marie, which, incidentally, is doubling for Edinburgh.
And how do you like being in the frozen north? Be honest.
Honestly, I really like it although I haven’t had a lot of time. But I took a look around yesterday.
The weather may be worse at home in Scotland with those huge snow storms this week.
I hope I can get home for Christmas! I have a ticket booked to fly home so fingers crossed! Hopefully everyone will get home, especially at this time of year!
Starring in a sequel to the deeply druggy Trainspotting is also a very long way from your work in The Lord of the Rings.
I was actually in Trainspotting the stage play before the film came out and so I was a wee heroin addict before I was a Hobbit.
Really? How would you compare the film and stage experiences?
They’re similar the acting part is similar but strange thing is that in film you can work at getting a moment just right, those beats, getting it right, but on stage its about an energy that pushes through the two hours, I was in a musical just now, before I came here for Ecstasy.
It was my first time back onstage in eight years and I loved it! It was called Sunshine on Leaf and it toured all over Britain, from Aberdeen to Southampton to Windsor and Edinburgh.
And here you are, miles from home, during the holidays, making a Scottish story.
I never thought I’d be in Sault Ste. Marie, doubling for Edinburgh. But it’s mostly interiors; pretty much the whole film is in clubs which makes it easier. The sets have been amazing, kudos to the art department.
It’s a different look from Trainspotting because it’s more about the club culture, so it’s more about raves and clubs and much more closed, and the actual dance, people going crazy at three in the morning.
And you’re finding enough club kids to dance all night long on those long snowy winter nights in northern Ontario?
Extras have been loving it! I can’t believe it. One of the days we were dancing for six hours, it was crazy and hot and the next day my calves were so painful! I don’t know how everyone did it! It was amazing. And the supporting cast has been amazing, lost of energy, and they are really enjoying it.
What kind of character do you play? What happens to him?
His name is Woodsy and he’s very into the club culture but he’s getting older. He’s in his 30s’, he’s one of the oldest people in the club but he won’t give it up. But recently he’s started getting spiritual, because when he was high on ecstasy, he thinks he saw God.
The film’s showing the different types of ecstasy. People took the drug to get this high but then they’re showing how love can be ecstatic. Woody’s spiritual awakening, Allie tries to find it through the purity of what he eats, and he takes these herbs. It’s like they’re drawing towards the end of the drug-fuelled ten years of clubbing and where they go from there.
How is Ecstasy a sequel to Trainspotting?
It’s not a sequel really other than its set in the same location. The characters from Trainspotting don’t appear, but it all happens in Leith, a run down part of Edinburgh. And it became a hippy enclave and now it’s up and coming with restaurants and its going through more change, and it’s the way Irvine Welsh the author of Trainspotting and Ecstasy sees it.
What’s the look of Ecstasy? Is it as surreal as Trainspotting?
Director Rob Heydon shoots and knows and understands the camera. He’s using the camera to get inside the people’s minds. He will take the lens off the camera so you get a crazy look and make mad cuts.
He’s using film techniques to show how these people are feeling. He’s brilliant. It looks so modern and up to date. He’s a very good filmmaker.
You have a long list of films and TV shows to do in the near future (including Witches of Oz, The Lion Inside, and Carmel). Has your career exceeded your expectations?
I didn’t really think about a career, I don’t have any big plans or anything. I like acting and when I started I only wanted to do theatre, but I slowly got involved in film. I don’t have driving ambition.
No five year plan – I just want to do projects I’m doing at the time. I don’t go to openings or parties that can involve you in a whirlpool. Right now, I just want Ecstasy to be the best movie it can be. I don’t think of it as a stepping stone. If you don’t love the work, you can’t do it.
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