It's just a day until the London Olympics Opening Ceremony and the man behind it all, Oscar-winning director Danny Boyle, is letting loose a few hints about what to expect.
“Nothing can prepare you for the scale,” Boyle told TODAY’s Meredith Vieira Thursday. The show, two years in the making, will have an estimated audience of more than a billion people.
The bar is high: Beijing's 2008 spectacle, also directed by a filmmaker, featured more than 15,000 performers over 4 hours and cost over $100 million to produce. It was a much-loved production that many called the greatest Opening Ceremony ever.
This Ceremony, said Boyle, is “a wonderful way to start again. Beijing was beyond compare. It was on a scale that is unimaginable, I think, almost anywhere else in the world at the moment...We are very grateful to Beijing that it brought to an absolute climax the scale of the Opening Ceremony.”
Boyle is no stranger to scale. He's best known for directing “Slumdog Millionaire,” which won eight Academy Awards in 2009, and in 2011, his film “127 Hours” was nominated for best picture.
Essentially, Boyle said, he is trying to create a live film. “The way you experience it on television, will feel, I hope, much more immediate and visceral than you normally get. And there'll be more close-ups, for instance, which is a way of conveying emotion.”
Boyle hopes the show, titled “Isles of Wonder,” will instill a sense of wonder in the worldwide audience.
“The show opens with a bell being rung and a very key character from our history speaking words from ‘The Tempest': ‘Be not afraid; the isle is full of noises,’” said Boyle. The bell, which will also close the show, weighs 27 tons.
Paul McCartney has confirmed that he will be participating in the Games and though Boyle wouldn't reveal much about the extremely secretive spectacle, he did stop just short of suggesting that the Beatle would make a surprise appearance.
“Something that's very important in our culture is music...and our history of music for such a small place really, popular music is extraordinary," he said. "The most obvious example to begin are The Beatles, obviously.”
He also revealed that the show may feature great characters from British books. “There's a very close connection between some of the great writers of children's literature who have been immortalized actually by Disney: Cruella de Vil, Captain Hook, Alice in Wonderland, The Queen of Hearts, but actually they originated in British literature. And the most famous of that is Peter Pan.”
Will we be seeing these characters? “Yes,” Boyle said, but quickly added, “I mean, if they work, yeah. There's always this problem that you might have to cut things because they don't work, you know. It's a live show.”
Boyle addressed another rumor, that Queen Elizabeth may play a role. “The entry of the head of state in our case, which is the queen, is a key part of the show," he said. "So yes, we had a meeting with her about that.”
Still, he was tight-lipped on the monarch’s role, saying it was “weather dependent.”
“For whether she’s there or not?” Asked Vieira.
Boyle laughed. “Oh, my God, don't start that rumor, no.”
Despite those potential high-wattage guests, the real stars, the director said, are the show's 10,000 volunteers. And while Boyle admits there is a possibility the Ceremony could be a wash, he said failure is just part of the process.
For him, the Opening Ceremony is already a success: “I believe it's mobilized people together in a tough time in Britain and Europe and the world.”
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