Simon Beaufoy, writer of Slumdog Millionaire returns to Yorkshire
PUBLISHED: 23:22 11 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:57 20 February 2013
Oscar-winning screenwriter Simon Beaufoy - the new toast of Hollywood and writer of Slumdog Millionaire - returns to Yorkshire, his home and inspiration. Tony Greenway catches up with him
Setting an interview with screenwriter Simon Beaufoy would have been fairly easy last year: ring his agent, put in a request, arrange to meet him, have a chat. Simple. But then something happened which changed all of that. Slumdog Millionaire opened in the cinemas and the world went nuts for it.
Beaufoy, who scored a massive hit with one of his first scripts, The Full Monty, adapted the script of Slumdog Millionaire from the book Q&A by Vikas Swarup. The movie about an orphan from the Mumbai slums who appears on the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire has been a critical and commercial smash, winning countless awards and sweeping the board on Oscar night. The film won Best Picture, Best Director (for Danny Boyle) and Beaufoy won Best Adapted Screenplay. Perhaps he'll put the Oscar with his BAFTA and Golden Globe which he also received for his Slumdog script. No wonder everyone wants to talk to him.
'I didn't want to jinx it by assuming I'd won and having a speech ready.' He catches himself and switches into broad Tyke. 'It's very Yorkshire that, int'it?'
After a few months of trying, I get my chance. Beaufoy is in Yorkshire as patron of Bradford Film Festival and is talking on stage about his life, work and the success of Slumdog and attend a screening of the movie.We meet beforehand at Bradford's National Media Museum but his packed schedule gives me just 10 minutes with him. I vow to talk fast. Beaufoy, born in 1966 in Glusburn near Keighley, is open and friendly and has even brought his Academy Award along with him to show the festival audience. He gives it to me - which turns out to be a bigger deal than I ever thought it would be. 'Who would you like to thank?' he asks.
Beaufoy's own Oscar acceptance speech, in front of a theatre full of Hollywood A-listers and a worldwide television audience of millions, was calm and measured but seemingly delivered onthe- hoof. 'I'm very superstitious so I didn't prepare anything,' he says. 'I didn't want to jinx it by assuming I'd won and having a speech ready.' He catches himself and switches into broad Tyke. 'It's very Yorkshire that, int'it? You know: "I don't want to assume owt".'
Beaufoy says he never intended to win the highest honour the film industry can bestow - so not for him practising speeches in front of the mirror with shampoo bottles like Kate Winslet. 'I've never written the kinds of films that win Oscars,' he says putting the award down on the table, 'which is what's so strange about sitting here with one now. Slumdog just doesn't fit the Oscar category because there are no big stars in it, it's a genre film and it has subtitles. I can't remember the last film with subtitles that won Best Picture.'
The last six months have been pretty mad for Beaufoy. When he hasn't been promoting the film around the world he's been winning awards for it. Now he's back in the UK - he lives in London with his archaeologist wife and their two children - he can begin to assess how it's changed his life. 'I'm very happy about the success the movie has had,' he says. 'And, actually, the calmer life gets, the more you can reflect on it.When you're in the middle of the hoopla of the awards, the press, the parties - which are all great fun - it's hard to take a breath and think about it. I mean, I spend most of my life on my own, writing. That's what writers do.'
He laughs. 'We don't talk to people very much, so it was very strange to spend three months chatting non-stop to everyone about the film. Yet there's been an incredible warmth and affection for this movie and people have been very un- English about it. They don't just come up to me and say: "I liked it." They say: "I loved it!" That's tremendously gratifying for a writer, but it'll be a great relief to sit back down and start work on the next project.'