Danny Boyle returned to theatre direction with an adapted version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Nick Dear at the National Theatre in London in 2011.
Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller alternated the two lead roles of Victor Frankenstein and the Creature. On the 17th and 19th of March 2011, the production was broadcast to cinemas around the world as part of the National Theatre Live programme.
Benedict and Jonny both shared the Olivier Award and the London Evening Standard Award for Best Actor for their respective performances. However, the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards’ Best Performance by an Actor in a Play was given solely to Benedict.
They both signed my programme after I saw one of the two world premiere opening nights in February 2011 (Benedict was the Creature, Jonny was Frankenstein) but a signed sketch never came back from the theatre. I drew another one and waited until Jonny was attending a Dark Shadows premiere in Leicester Square in May 2012 and he gladly signed for me. But I couldn’t get Benedict until he was at the latest Star Trek: Into Darkness world premiere, also in Leicester Square. Amongst a real frenzy I managed to get his attention. He loved the sketch, and dedicated it for me, saying “great drawing”.
I like Danny Boyle’s style. The Lancashire born director is the most down to earth celebrity I know. In spite of a trophy cabinet including every major film gong and co-ordinating the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics, he also turned down a Knighthood.
He returned to his theatrical roots in 2011 to direct Frankenstein at the National Theatre. On the opening night he signed for me. Actually there were two opening nights (World Premieres) as the two leads – Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch – alternated the roles of ‘the creature’ and Dr Frankenstein.
He wore casual clothes and mingled with the minions in the Olivier Theatre foyer. I did this quick sketch and approached him. He smiled and said, “that’s great.” He was more than happy to sign it, confirming his humanity and humility. I asked him why he alternating the leads, he said, “you’ll see”.
I watched the show on the theatre monitor in the bar. Cumberbatch played the creature. If a ticket had been available I would have returned to see Miller in the same role, so I could see what Danny meant.