Cast: Ewan McGregor, Jonny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner, Irvine Welsh
Director: Danny Boyle
Running Time: 117 minutes
Synopsis: First there was an opportunity......then there was a betrayal.
Twenty years have gone by. Much has changed, but just as much remains the same. Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) returns to the only place he can ever call home.
They are waiting for him: Spud, Sick Boy, and Begbie.
Other old friends are waiting too: sorrow, loss, joy, vengeance, hatred, friendship, love, longing, fear, regret, diamorphine, self-destruction andmortal danger, they are all lined up to welcome him, ready to join the dance.
T2 Trainspotting reunites Academy Award®-winning director Danny Boyle with the original cast of the 1996 film.
John Hodge returns as screenwriter, working from Irvine Welsh's novels Porno and Trainspotting. Producers are Andrew Macdonald, Boyle, Christian Colson, and Bernie Bellew.
Where We Left Them....
The four life-long friends/associates/bitter enemies had travelled to London to sell a bag of fortuitously obtained heroin.
While the rest are sleeping, Mark Renton sneaks out with the entire proceeds: £16,000 in cash. He walks away. He will not look back.
He leaves £4000 in a locker for Spud. A kind gift, but a mixed blessing for its recipient, a man with a more or less unshakeable heroin addiction.
Sick Boy, never one to be troubled by feelings of loyalty, feels bitter envy as much as anger. If anyone could have betrayed his friends, it should have been him. He curses his own sentimental weakness, and dreams of revenge.
Frank Begbie has spent most of his adult life as a walking hand grenade. Renton just pulled the pin. His rage may be self-destructive, but it's fair to say he will not be the only casualty.
Release Date: February 23rd, 2017
'Colonized By Wankers" "Trainspotting (1996)
Made on a £2M budget, the sophomore film from the team behind Shallow Grave outgrew its modest indie roots to become a bona fide cultural phenomenon.
Danny Boyle remembers: 'We kind of careered into the first one. We had just made Shallow Grave, which had done quite well, and suddenly everybody wanted us to make another one. We had Irvine's extraordinary book and it continued to haunt us. John Hodge started working on the script and, straightaway, you just knew we were going to make it. He delivered about 20 pages and it was just like -yeah, we'll do that'. So we basically just tumbled into it."
Producer Andrew Macdonald says 'We were worried at the time that the film wouldn't work because it dealt with drugs and youth culture, and seemed so specifically Scottish. We weren't sure anybody would understand it. But, loving the book, we were desperate to make it."
'The great thing was to be fully inexperienced" says screenwriter John Hodge. 'Is if you haven't done much before, you won't be too surprised by what happens. We just set out to make an entertaining film back then. We were finishing the script in production, and so only gradually became aware of the groundswell of interest increasing. I hoped the way we humanised the heroes and stepped away from a traditional victim portrayal would ring true. And, like the book, Trainspotting gave the characters a sense of humour and a sense of insight, which was traditionally denied them. This was controversial. People liked it, and didn't like it, for the same reasons"
For its many fans, the film provided an adrenalin jolt to a British movie scene dominated at the time by period dramas, social realism and romantic comedies. With its trippy visuals, propulsive soundtrack and cast of unforgettable anti-heroes"and supported by an innovative, in-your-face marketing campaign"Trainspotting caught the spirit of the times perfectly.
Danny Boyle loved the simplicity of the whole experience;;'If you get the chance to make a few films you begin to learn things. That's not necessarily a help. Sometimes films are at their best made in a state of blissful ignorance".
Ewan McGregor, who plays Renton, remembers the first time he saw a cut of the film: 'I went to see it in a small Soho screening room with my wife and my uncle. I remember just coming out and being completely blown away after. We were looking at each other, not really able to talk about what we'd seen. Brian Tufano's cinematography, all the performances, Danny Boyle's direction, the music … it was just like all of the elements were as good as they could be really. And so the chances were it wasn't going to suck. And it didn't".
'What Have You Been Up To For Twenty Years?" "The Inception Of T2 Trainspotting
'It's 21 years since the release of the first film, and conventional wisdom says that's 20 years too late to do a sequel!" says Danny Boyle. 'The delay wasn't exactly deliberate " we've been talking about doing another one for years. But, actually, it's what gives the film a raison d'etre. When you put the actors side by side with how they looked 20 years ago, it's very brutal. We looked at it ten years ago and the actors didn't look that different. I used to joke with them that they must moisturise all the time! But 20 years is a long time and you can feel it. The guys dealt really well with how they look now and how that they were going to be compared to how they looked previously. It was honest. They weren't shy about owning up to where they are now, and that's what the movie is all about."
Jonny Lee Miller, who plays Simon (aka Sick Boy), agrees that this is not a traditional sequel: 'I always said there was no point in making a sequel to Trainspotting unless you're examining some bigger issues. What's it like being older? What have you done? What's happened to the characters and what are the implications? A straightforward sequel to a caper, with the answers to who got away and who got revenge, becomes very boring really. The only way you could make it interesting is to put people's lives in between it."
'The main question was -could John produce a script?'" says Danny Boyle. 'The actors naturally had reservations in terms of only wanting to do something as well as we did the first one -they didn't want to let people down by making a disappointing follow-up. John attempted a couple of versions which we all knew, including him, didn't work. Then we all went up to Edinburgh for one final go"me, John, Irvine, Andrew, and Christian. The 20th anniversary was coming up and we thought it's now or never. John went away and wrote a script that I knew, as soon as I read it, I could send to the actors. I thought -they'd be crazy not to do it'. They still might have said -no' because of all sorts of factors, not least because a couple of them are in serious full-time TV shows. But they all responded very positively, so we were able to get it going."
Screenwriter John Hodge was excited about exploring where the four old friends are now: 'Plot and character development go hand in hand really" he says. 'So once we start thinking about, say, Begbie, the question you have to ask is whether he has any children. Yes or no? And if he does have children, what's he got? So he comes out of prison … what's his relationship with his son going to be? Is his son a chip off the old block? No, he's a bit different. He's been brought up by his mother specifically not to be like Frank. This all takes you in different places and so starts to affect the plot. You come round to asking yourself -where does Begbie go now?'. He's reached this point of isolation, estranged from his family, what's going to happen now? And meanwhile there's another plot developing with Spud's writing stories. These two plots collide and take Begbie into a sort of understanding of himself."
Robert Carlyle (Begbie) felt a gamut of emotions going into the process: 'Everything … nervous and excited mostly maybe. It was a long time to wait to do it again. I expected it to be tough, but it genuinely wasn-t. It's a corny thing to say, but it was like an old pair of shoes. I knew this guy Begbie so well. He's changed a lot, but there-s still a lot of fun about the character -and a kind of despair as well. He's led a sad kind of life. And that is really what the film explores. It-s what have these guys done in the last 20 years and where are they now? It-s very emotional, much more emotional than I expected it to be and I think it-s probably even more emotional than Danny expected it to be.
'We always sort of knew that there would be a pleasure in seeing these four characters together again" agrees Danny Boyle, 'but the big surprise is the emotional impact. You see their faces, and it's immediate. There's a pathos. It's to do with our awareness of what time has done to them, and to us. The film kind of telescopes time"you look one way and the past is there, so close;;you look again"and it's gone. It's interesting, T2 is really an adaptation of two books: Porno, Irvine's 10 years later sequel but, even more, it's a direct loop back to Trainspotting. For me, the original book is like a modern Ulysses. It's unsurpassed I think, and reading it is still like the -rush of ocean to the heart'. The new film is constantly drawn back into its orbit and it's been a privilege to step back into that world".
'A Tourist In Your Own Youth' "The Making Of T2 Trainspotting
Danny Boyle assembled a mix of old and new to make the film.
Returning were the original cast, of course, joined by screenwriter John Hodge, producer Andrew Macdonald, as well as costume Designer Rachel Fleming, First AD David Gilchrist and composer Rick Smith, to name but a few.
New recruits were drawn from the ranks of recent Boyle collaborators, including producers Christian Colson and Bernie Bellew, editor Jon Harris, designers Mark Tildesley and Patrick Rolfe, director of photography Anthony Dod Mantle and hair & make up designer Ivana Primorac.
Danny Boyle says: 'It was important to me " vital really -to have the voices of many of the original team beside me. But I wanted fresh perspectives in the mix too" people who had the ability to look at the first film from the outside, and to bring something new to it. I wanted both authenticity and innovation. As is so often the case, the way we made the film has somehow got under its skin, and this mix of the old and new, the familiar and unfamiliar, has seeped into every frame of the movie".
Returning Costume Designer Rachael Fleming had actually been taking a break from the industry. But she could not bear the thought of missing out on ageing the boys: 'I haven't worked in nearly ten years because I've got five kids. So I didn't want to go back to work really. But then I read the script and just thought, -oh no, I can't let anybody else do these characters'."
'Once we were shooting," she continues, 'we did a shot where we used some lookalikes who I dressed in some of the original clothes" she says. The scene was supposed to be 20 years before. But one of the lookalikes did look very, very similar to Ewan. Suddenly you were in a weird throwback. It was a little bit freaky, but it helped bring me back the world".
-New Girl' Ivana Primorac, who worked with Boyle on Steve Jobs, enjoyed the collaboration with the old hands. 'I found myself leaning on other people's opinions and memories. You can't build the backstory to the characters the way I normally would. For other projects you research through the characters, through the script, or through conversations you've had with the director. Then I'd suggest and discuss those things with the actors. But with this piece, I've more often gone straight to the cast. Only Bobby Carlyle will know what happens to Begbie in prison. Only Ewan McGregor can suggest what Renton's been through. It has to ring true to them."
Another key incoming collaborator was Editor Jon Harris. Producer Christian Colson has this to say of Harris: -All of the films I have produced with Danny Boyle to date (Slumdog, 127 Hours, Trance, Steve Jobs) share a deep pre-occupation with memory and the past, and none more so than T2. Jon Harris has cut three of those movies and has been a key figure in developing with Danny the visual language to explore these ideas. T2 feels like the high point of this work. By finding ways to bring the past face-to-face with the present, Jon has done an amazing job of amplifying the emotional impact of the story. Like all great editors, he has influenced the film as a storyteller, and not just as a master craftsman".
Danny Boyle adds, 'I thought the film was about time, but about a month into the edit, when Jon Harris and I sat down to watch a cut in a screening room, I realized it was about masculinity too, or masculinity over time. It's the difference between boyhood and manhood. The irresponsibility of boyhood is the first movie, you don't give a fuck about anything, least of all time"or rather, you don't think you do. T2 flips it: it's time that doesn't give a fuck about you. Period. The film is saturated with images of disappointed men, and disappointed women, and disappointed children, even imaginary ones…Their bravado was so effortless before, but now it struggles to revive itself---so no wonder they seek each other out and endlessly try to recreate the past, either to enjoy it or take revenge on it".
'Re-uniting the original team after all this time was emotional, but not too emotional!" producer Andrew Macdonald says: 'We're all blokes and when blokes go to school reunions they don't really do a lot of hugging, do they? There's actually not that many scenes in T2 with all four actors together. And if you think about it, it was the same in the first film -there's the ending and a few scenes in the middle really."
Ewen Bremner, whose performance as Spud Boyle describes as -a combination of the subtle and the immense', says 'Day One was profound. It was quite emotional, almost surreal, for all of us, I think we all felt quite tender. We were given such a gift 20 years ago with these parts. And now it feels even more precious. We have this beautiful opportunity to work together again, to play these scenes and just share time."
The shoot was not an easy one in terms of logistics. Producer Bernie Bellew says: 'One of the main challenges was the scheduling of the shoot. Trying to come up with a plan that allowed us to shoot over 70 locations and 12 sets in 55 days, with the restrictive availability of our cast. We only had just over 4 weeks (the month of June) when all four of our key cast were available at the same time. So cramming 50% of the work into 35% of the schedule was tricky. Add to that, the fact that the script called for a lot of night exterior work, in Scotland, in the summer, with only three and half hours of darkness a night … but we refused to let anything become a nightmare!"
Danny Boyle and the team felt the influence of those that hadn't joined the team this time: 'Anthony (Dod Mantle) and I were very mindful to pay due respect to Brian Tufano, who shot Trainspotting. He was a huge help to me early on in my career, and it was a shame he wasn't well enough to come up to set. There's a couple of tributes to him in the film. We both felt that we were picking up a very impressive baton that he'd laid down for us. And similarly there's a colour palette that pays tribute to the original Production Designer Kave Quinn. She had been very bold at the time and our designers on T2 felt very responsible to her legacy. Rachael Fleming was the original Costume Designer on Trainspotting, and Steven Noble was her assistant. For T2 they designed together. The clothes in the first film were extraordinary. You look back now they don't look dated. That takes a very special eye and an enjoyment of the characters. And ultimately it's all about the characters. Anthony is amazingly sensitive with actors. Just like Brian Tufano was. And I think that's our currency. Everybody thinks the films are very stylish, but if you don't believe those actors the whole effect doesn't last very long."
'Slowslippy" "The Music Of T2 Trainspotting
Danny Boyle says 'people have quite an intense relationship with Trainspotting, and a lot of that has to do with the music. They've been kind of marked by it, remembering parts simply by the tracks. There were lots of people who really shouldn't have been watching the film but watched it because of the music. When it affects you, which I think the first film's soundtrack did, it amplifies emotions. They're trigger points really, which set off some kind of chemical reaction inside you about that section. T2 is very aware of the first film -not just in terms of characters and narrative, but its particular impact as a piece of style or culture. Music is a huge connector to those feelings, and to memory in general, and there is a particular charge set off within this film when we allude to music from the original".
Composer Rick Smith says, 'one of the greek philosophers, can't remember which one, thought that whatever you say about something, the opposite is equally true. The word he used for this tension was -fire'"and that's what Trainspotting had. It was in Irvine's book and it was in Danny's film, in the characters and in the music. 20 years on, I've loved writing and collecting music for T2 and can only hope that it catches in the same way".
Boyle concludes: 'On the first film, the heartbeat, the river run, was Underworld's Dubnobasswithmyheadman, and then the needle-drop of Born Slippy"but what a needle drop! And on T2 it was Rick Smith from Underworld agreeing to score the film and to help Jon Harris and I with the whole soundtrack"original score and needle-drops. But most of all, it was discovering Edinburgh's Young Fathers. They're the modern heartbeat of this film and protect us from any outbreaks of nostalgia. Wolf Alice is from my daughters and their inspiring tastes. THE Rubberbandits is what John Hodge watches at home when he should be writing!"
'Leith 2.1" "T2 Trainspotting & Scotland
Producer Andrew Macdonald says '1996 was a good time to be Scottish. And everywhere you went in the world, it was suddenly cool to be a Scot. It helped that we had such a talented local cast. All of the lead guys, except for Jonny, were Scottish. Then we had Kelly Macdonald, and Shirley Henderson, and Peter Mullan. It's hard to imagine a more talented group of people from such a small country. So much has happened politically since then, so it is going to be interesting to see how people react to the uniquely Scottish feel of T2."
Director of Photography Anthony Dod Mantle really felt the sense of belonging during the shoot: 'There's a presence this film still has. It's almost like a semi-ownership. The Scots audience don't feel they own Irvine or Bobby, but they know Begbie. When we were shooting the prison scene the prisoners almost felt this empathy with Begbie. It's extraordinary."
'We actually shot the first Trainspotting in Glasgow" admits Danny Boyle. 'Due to financing, and lots of other reasons to do with crew and budget, we only got to be in Edinburgh for a few days. This one was the other way around. We made it in Edinburgh with just a couple days in Glasgow. And that was nice. It was a real pleasure to be there to make the film because the locals were so proud about the first film. In fact, the whole country still talks about it. Apparently the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, sneaked out of a conference in Australia to watch the film. To have the nation's leader proclaim such pride in the original film makes you think -oh my God, what have we done?".
Screenwriter John Hodge certainly noticed the differences shooting in the two cities now: 'Edinburgh is so much busier. Then we didn't stop the traffic, we didn't even stop the pedestrians. We just got the two guys running along the pavement – the camera was on a quad bike in front of them. And the east end of Glasgow has changed beyond recognition. Huge council estates where we shot have all been levelled and a lot of pubs have shut down."
'My favourite moment was filming at Corrour Station" says Producer Bernie Bellew. 'We took a beautiful three-hour train journey into the Highlands to revisit the iconic location from the first movie. We were of course at the mercy of the weather and of Scotrail, neither of which let us down!"
Jonny Lee Miller also remembers that moment: 'It was really surreal;;a bit of a head-fuck actually. All four of us were sitting there, and there was this young actor dressed as Tommy (Kevin McKidd's character in Trainspotting) doing a scene. I don't know whether it was because of the wonderful setting, but it was very powerful. We all feel very lucky to have had this opportunity again."
The body doubles for the younger versions of the characters certainly had an effect. 'People kept saying -the guy that's playing you really looks like you'" says Ewan McGregor. 'So I walked past their trailer and did a double take. There's young Ewen in his white and grey stripes t-shirt, young me in my Hibs top, Tommy with his white hair and denim jacket, a young Jonny and a young Bobby. And it was just weird. I really didn't know what to say. I think partly because I felt like they were claiming me and partly to do with that fact that we're not 22 or 23 years old any more. Like in the movie we have to face up to it."
Lee Miller also noted another difference shooting in Scotland this time: 'Last time we made this guerrilla movie, where we could go anywhere and do anything with a small camera. No one gave a shit. We wanted to do that again but everywhere you went you always got this crowd of people. Still, what is it Danny Boyle said? Trainspotting is Scotland's Star Wars! The level of interest it generates here is amazing, people are so very supportive – it's wonderful to witness."
On The Director
Long-time Danny Boyle collaborator Anthony Dod Mantle says: 'Danny Boyle is an extraordinary man. He's so strong, and stubborn, and powerful, and enquiring. He's intuitive as well. But he's one of the true leaders -he won't waste any time, it's all about what you have to do now. On T2 he had to be more focused than I've ever probably known him to be before. Just totally devoted to the story, subordinate to it almost. It's his direction that is ultimately going to bring it through. To be on set with him is terrifyingly wonderful, and you've just got to go there. He's a one-off."
'I can't claim to know the inside of Danny Boyle's mind" says scriptwriter John Hodge, 'all I can talk about are the qualities and attributes that I interact with. Danny Boyle's ability to take on responsibility and take leadership is second to none. He brings a relentless energy to the process and is involved with every aspect of the decision-making. But at the same time he's prepared to weigh up the advice and sometimes say -yeah OK you're the expert'. He works so very well with actors. Actors like him and are prepared to give that extra effort with a performance or to take it out somewhere where other people wouldn't if they didn't have faith in him as a director. The vision that he has is always bold, always exciting, and he keeps his eyes focused on making a film enjoyable for an audience. But I still don't know what's going on inside his head!"
'He's all about the truth of the scene" says Jonny Lee Miller of his director. 'What's right and what works, and what doesn't. He does want input. But if it's not right he's not going to sugar-coat it. He's very, very excited about T2. I've seen him passionate before, he's got so much energy. I worked with him in theatre and he never sat down over a five-week rehearsal period! But I haven't seen him so engaged before. Trainspotting was one of the best professional experiences in my life still to this day. So to get the chance to come back and not just reminisce with Danny and the guys, but actually do another piece of work with them, that's really a huge blessing -and it's not lost on any of us."
Ewen Bremner would not have considered T2 if Danny Boyle was not helming. 'It's utterly crucial that Danny is the man who's putting this together. He understands the weight of expectation that people have for this film and its significance in pop culture. It would be very easy to treat this as a by-the-numbers film: tick the boxes and match them to the template of the original. But the original made such an impact because there was no shot that was what you expected to see. And it's not an easy trick to pull off for 90 minutes straight. Danny Boyle's managed to do it again. There hasn't been a day when I've been on this set where I haven't felt like -… how did you come up with this?'."
'Danny Boyle is a genius" says Robert Carlyle. The way he thinks is just special – when you-re confronted with something like Danny Boyle you suddenly realise -ah, that-s what a director is'. This is what a director does. And he-s a wonderful, very soft kind of manipulative director. All the best ones are."
Ewan McGregor says: 'Danny Boyle was my first director. I did two television series before Shallow Grave. It's sort of like your first wife – because I always loved Danny Boyle and I've always felt like he got the best work out of me. I completely know that I'm in safe hands and I always have done really since the start. I hear him talking about Shallow Grave saying -I had no idea what I was doing'. But I think he really did, even then. He's just being humble"
Renton & The Boys"Irvine Welsh Looks At His Four Creations
It's a kind of first love type of thing. They're the first characters I wrote. Because of that you're drawn to them. As a writer you see characters as a set of tools that you've forged for a job. If you've got a theme that you want to explore you'll take them out of the toolbox. You catch up with them at different times of their life, and take an interest in them. A character can be dead to you for about ten years and then suddenly become interesting again; maybe through something you've gone through yourself or something you've seen in friends. You think -what if this character was going through something similar?'
I think people want to see what the characters are doing now because they are constantly trying to be better. No matter how dark the situation the audience will forgive them as long as they're trying to make an effort to reach for the light switch and get their way out. It must evolve in any kind of drama: you want the characters to change and be different at the end of the film. They must find some kind of wisdom, some kind of enlightenment.
So in T2 it's 20 years on and they're all in different places. Begbie, predictably, is in prison. Spud, predictably, is on the streets. Renton is still on the run from the vengeance of Begbie, as is Sick Boy Simon to a lesser extent. Simon's still hustling. He is very much in reduced circumstances, but then he always does feel a cut above the circumstance he's presently in. He's not happy about Renton being back and so tries to lead him in so Begbie can take revenge on him on his behalf.
Renton's an observer. He looks at what other people are doing, and makes up rules about life from this. He's a narrator, an analyst basically, which is quite a passive role compared to the nuttiness of the people around him. Ewan really brings charisma and intelligence to the role. Because of this Renton draws people in and gets them on his side.
It's funny that Jonny and Ewan have been friends for a long time and were business partners at one point. There's a powerful symbiotic relationship here that compares with Sick Boy/ Simon and Renton. In the movie the characters both want to be each other. Simon wants to be as intelligent and detached as Renton. For his part Renton wants to be as passionate and successful as Simon. There are so many characteristics that they covet in the other. And this incredible rivalry and deep-rooted respect comes out in the new movie.
Spud is a loveable loser, but thanks to Ewen's performance it never strips him of his humanity. There's a sense of pathos and depth in the role now that comes with age. I think he's going to break a few hearts in this one.
Alternatively, Begbie is just this crazy force. And in T2 he's not rehabilitated at all. There is still this force of rage. Obviously you have to show a bit of change in a character and what Bobby's done is added some nuances to him. Now there is this kind of danger of somebody that knows they're going down this path but can't resist it. It's great to see him inject that kind of doubt into the performance.
Release Date: February 23rd, 2017