Junkies reunited as sequel gets go-ahead
ITS portrayal of the lives of heroin addicts in Scotland's capital was the unlikely smash that put the country on the movie-making map and brought international fame and fortune to its home-grown cast.
Trainspotting became one of the greatest British films ever made, ushering in a new era of gritty Scottish films that have generated millions of pounds for the economy.
Now, more than ten years on from its release, Danny Boyle, the film's director, has confirmed that Renton, Begbie, Spud and co will return to the silver screen in a follow-up to Trainspotting, revealing that he has been given the rights to the much-talked-about sequel.
Boyle has also given the clearest indication yet that the original film's leading star, Ewan McGregor, will be reunited with fellow actors Robert Carlyle, Ewen Bremner and co, claiming that "all the actors" have agreed to reprise their unforgettable roles.
Boyle has long talked about his desire to bring Porno, Irvine Welsh's follow-up to the cult novel that spawned Trainspotting, to the silver screen. However, the project has long been shrouded in doubt, with McGregor reportedly insisting that he does not want to be involved.
The news has been described as "fantastic" by film critics and Scottish Screen, which says there is a massive public appetite for a follow-up.
It is widely held among film critics that Porno cannot be made without McGregor, and public comments from the Crieff-born actor have seemingly killed off the possibility of a follow-up. As recently as last week the star was reported to have said: "They can go ahead and do it if they want, but it will be without me on board."
He said he was "very proud" of Trainspotting and insisted he "wouldn't do anything to damage it".
"I read Porno and I didn't think it was as good as Trainspotting. There was nothing new in it," he added.
McGregor was furious with Boyle when he chose Leonardo DiCaprio to star as the traveller on a Thai adventure in The Beach, a decision the director has apologised for.
But speaking this week at a preview of his latest movie, the science-fiction thriller Sunshine, Boyle reiterated plans to bring Porno to the cinema and indicated that McGregor was on board.
"Irvine has given me the rights to make the film. He could have made a lot of money selling it to one of the big production companies, but to his credit he has resisted that," said Boyle.
He added: "I just want to wait until the actors are in their 40s. I could make it now, but the problem is they all look the same. I want them to look ravaged by the passing of time".
McGregor could not be contacted to comment yesterday.
A spokeswoman for Scottish Screen described Boyle's indication that the original cast have agreed to take part as "fantastic news".
She said: "We would welcome the making of Porno in Scotland, with the original crew in place, with open arms. There's a huge desire amongst the public to see that happen, although we have yet to be approached about it.
"Trainspotting has had a massive impact since it was first shown more than ten years ago. People are still talking about it. It's still regarded as one of the greatest British films of all time, let alone Scottish films.
"It has played a huge role in raising the profile of Scotland across the world. It showed really for the first time a contemporary side of Scotland that people were not used to."
The spokeswoman said it had inspired a host of other "gritty" films shot in Scotland, such as Young Adam and Wilbur Wants To Kill Himself, films which have raised investment in Scotland's movie business to between £15 million and £20 million a year.
The Scotsman's film critic, Alistair Harkness, believes there is always a danger that bringing much-loved characters back to life can backfire, but reckons Begbie and the others will be in safe hands.
He said: "I think it's always intriguing to revisit characters to show how they've turned out over time, especially when those characters have made such a big impression on you.
"A film like Before Sunset, Richard Linklater's sequel to his slacker romance Before Sunrise, was fantastic, because the characters played by Ethan Hawke and July Delpy were so true to themselves that the sequel felt naturalistic and certainly wasn't just being made to cash in on previous success. Other times it doesn't work quite so well.
"I don't think that would be the case with Boyle. I think he's certainly one of Britain's best directors, and still as vital as he was when he made Trainspotting.
"I don't think anyone would want to risk tarnishing the memory of what they created - one of the best British films ever."