Joe Utichi contributes to Deadline’s UK coverage.
Danny Boyle threatened to resign as artistic director of the opening ceremony of last year’s Olympic Games in London, he has disclosed. In an updated book of conversations with journalist Amy Raphael, to be published on April 4, Boyle claims he butted heads with Games organizers Locog over creative differences and his displeasure with certain decisions being made for the Games. He came “close to walking away” when he heard of plans for ground-to-air missile silos to be installed on buildings near the Olympic site, and became “unbelievably unpleasant” during meetings with Locog. “Occasional threats to resign were useful,” he said. “There’s a terror of bad headlines in the press, which you have to turn to your advantage.” A major point of contention was a stadium wrap being designed by the artist Damien Hirst. Hirst pulled out over a row about sponsorship from Dow Chemical and its links to the Bhopal gas disaster in India in 1984, which killed 15,000 people. “He didn’t want to be associated with Dow,” Boyle said, although Hirst did later contribute a design to the closing ceremony.
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Organizers stopped Boyle from including in his Isles of Wonder event a poem by Paul Farley, which ends with the line, “Jesus, I’m the fucking Queen!” He said: “For some reason the powers that be weren’t keen.” He also clashed with Locog over its insistence that volunteers who performed in the ceremony would have to pay to keep their costumes. “It’s traditional in these shows for the volunteers to take their costumes home as the only tangible thing they walk way with,” he said. “I said they had to be joking. We won in the end, and they took them home without having to pay.” And he found it “bloody ridiculous” when Locog told him he could have 1,000 drummers for the Industrial Revolution segment of the show, but only 200 drums because of their cost. “I was dumbstruck.” He admits to disappointment that he wasn’t able to persuade David Bowie to take part. Boyle flew to New York to make a plea to Bowie, but it fell on deaf ears. “I was incredibly nervous meeting Bowie,” he said. “Far more nervous than meeting Her Majesty the Queen.” The Queen took part in a short filmed segment of the event with Daniel Craig as James Bond. Despite his rows with Locog, Boyle insists, he was thrilled to have taken part.