Trainspotting (1996) Poster




John Hodge:  store security officer in pursuit of an unruly pair in opening scene.
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In 2009, Robert Carlyle, who played Begbie, told a BAFTA interviewer that he played Begbie as a closeted gay man whose outbursts of violence were due to his "fear of being outed". Irvine Welsh, who wrote the movie's source novel, confirmed that he wrote the Begbie of the book to have an ambiguous sexuality, and agreed with Carlyle's interpretation of the film's version of the character.
Ewan McGregor was open to injecting himself with heroin, to better understand Renton's character. He later decided against it.
Although it looks thoroughly off putting, the feces in the Worst Toilet in Scotland scene was actually made from chocolate and smelled quite pleasant.
The sex scene between Ewan McGregor and Kelly Macdonald had to be trimmed for the American release by a few seconds, mainly because it appeared that Diane - a schoolgirl in the film - seemed to be enjoying it too much.
Kelly Macdonald got the part when the production crew were handing out flyers across Glasgow, for anyone eager to audition. When Danny Boyle first laid eyes on her, in a corridor with a plain hairdo surrounded by many glamorous girls, he knew she was the one. He wanted someone unknown, so no-one would guess a 19-year-old is playing a schoolgirl. Macdonald still has the promotional flyer at home.
Danny Boyle used creative methods while directing, necessitated by the film's low budget. For example, in the scene where Renton shoots a dog with a BB gun and it then goes crazy and attacks its owner, Boyle got the dog to freak out simply by positioning himself just outside of camera range and screaming at it.
Danny Boyle used twins to play the part of baby Dawn, which meant neither of the babies were forced to be in front of the camera for too long. All of the cast used to play with the two babies in between takes so they could break the tension of the often difficult scenes they were about to shoot.
To play the skinny heroin-addicted Renton, Ewan McGregor was placed on a simple diet consisting of no alcohol or dairy products in order to lose weight. It only took him two months to reach Renton's desired size.
Ewen Bremner (Spud) had previously played Renton in a stage adaptation of the novel.
The whole film was shot in just seven and a half weeks.
For the close-up shots of Ewan McGregor injecting himself with heroin, a prosthetic arm was constructed by the make-up department, complete with pulsing veins, smack tracks and small pockets of blood that would appear when the skin was punctured by a hypodermic needle.
Danny Boyle had his actors prepare by making them watch older movies about rebellious youths like The Hustler (1961), The Exorcist (1973) and A Clockwork Orange (1971). The latter film is directly homaged in the scene set in the Volcano nightclub, which is very similar to that set in the Milk Bar in 'Stanley Kubrick''s film. Indeed, the track playing in the Volcano club is by Heaven 17 who took their name from A Clockwork Orange (1971).
The scene where Sick-Boy and Renton lie in the park and take potshots with their air-rifle was originally going to be set to the theme from Mission: Impossible (1966). Unfortunately Brian De Palma was setting up the film version of the TV show at the time so getting to the rights to the music simply proved to be too expensive - approximately three times the film's budget. Both actors were very hungover for the scene in question.
Jonny Lee Miller's character, Sick Boy, is obsessed with James Bond trivia. Miller is the grandson of Bernard Lee, who played "M" in the Bond series until 1979.
Kelly Macdonald, although supposedly 14 in the film, was 19 when making it. It was released on her 20th birthday.
The writing on the wall of the Volcano Nightclub is the same as that in the Moloko bar in A Clockwork Orange (1971). There are also paintings of Robert De Niro and Jodie Foster from Taxi Driver (1976).
Various options were considered to make the film more intelligible for American audiences. Subtitles were ruled out as they would spoil the effect of using them in the disco scene. Instead, the actors re-recorded the first 20 minutes of dialog, softening their accents to atune American ears to the Scottish dialect.
In one scene in London, while Renton is "visited" by Begbie, he's reading a book about actor Montgomery Clift who had lots of experiences with drugs and medication of all kinds.
Kevin McKidd (Tommy) missed the photo shoot for the promos because he was on holiday. This resulted in him being the only lead cast member not to be in any of the promotional posters or even the video cover.
The football team pictured in the opening credits is the Calton Athletic Club, who are actually drug addiction counselors and were the primary consultants for the film.
There has been some confusion over the title as none of that particular activity actually takes place in the film. Irvine Welsh has since gone on record to explain the title, comparing the unusual hobby to heroin addiction, ie, something that only the people who indulge in that pastime truly understand. To them, it makes perfect sense.
Was ranked number 10 on the British Film Institute's all time best British films.
Created much controversy when it was released in the USA for its content. Senator Bob Dole charged the film with glorifying drug use, but later admitted he hadn't seen the film. See also: Priest (1994), Natural Born Killers (1994), and Kids (1995)
Jonny Lee Miller was cast on the strength of his performance in Hackers (1995) and his ability to do an uncanny Sean Connery accent.
Of the main cast, only Jonny Lee Miller is not a Scot.
From the minute the film went into pre-production, Ewan McGregor was always first choice for the part of Renton.
Danny Boyle credits the Spike Jonze-directed music video for "Sabotage" by the Beastie Boys as a major influence on the opening sequence of the film.
The last scene with Spud getting the money in the locker is almost identical to a scene in Once Upon a Time in America (1984). Even the circumstances behind the scenes are very similar.
Before he took up screenwriting, John Hodge was a doctor and had to frequently deal with heroin addicts. Some of his experiences have been worked into the script. One such example is the junkies stealing a television set from an old folk's home.
The "Choose Life" monologue was originally planned for the middle of the film. Danny Boyle and his writer John Hodge were struggling to find a suitable opening when they hit on the idea of moving the monologue to the beginning. An iconic moment was born by that one simple act.
Although set in Edinburgh, most interiors, and some of the exteriors, were shot in Glasgow. A notable exception is the chase down Princes Street.
One of the reasons why the film proved to be so popular, particularly in its native UK, was its vibrant marketing campaign. It was actively modeled on the way that Pulp Fiction (1994) had been pitched to the public.
Due to the skimpy budget, most scenes had to be shot in just one take.
Ewan McGregor shaved his head and lost 2 stone for the film.
Shot on a budget of £1.5 million over a period of 35 days. Despite that low budget, PolyGram allocated an almost unprecedented £800,000 to go towards promotion and advertisement, such was their faith in the film.
Ewan McGregor was cast as Renton on the strength of his performance in Danny Boyle's previous film, Shallow Grave (1994). Boyle wanted an actor with the charisma of Michael Caine in Alfie (1966) and Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange (1971).
The shot of Sick Boy's finger ringing the Renton's doorbell in London is almost identical to a shot in Shoot the Pianist (1960).
The toilet-diving scene is a reference to Thomas Pynchon's 1973 novel "Gravity's Rainbow".
After moving to London, and immediately after requesting the keys for "Talgarth Road," Renton states in a voice-over that there was, "no such thing as society." This is a famously misunderstood direct quote from an interview in 1987 with then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
References to The Beatles:
  • The scene where the store detectives chase Renton down the street is reminiscent of the scene in A Hard Day's Night (1964) where The Beatles are pursued by fans.

  • While watching the train, the four friends arrange themselves in the same manner as The Beatles did on the back of the album "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".

  • The scene where the four friends cross the road and enter the hotel is reminiscent of the cover of the album "Abbey Road".

  • The scene where Renton wakes up on the couch in the morning at Diane's home and says hello to someone passing through the hallway while covered with a blanket to his chin, is reminiscent of a scene in Help! (1965) where Ringo is found in a trunk of a car covered up with a blanket, and upon being found, says hello.

-The "Mother Superior's" written in the dealer house is a reference to the Beatles song Happiness is a Warm Gun, a song about heroin, which has the line "mother superior jump the gun".
According to the liner notes from the second volume of the soundtrack, David Bowie's "Golden Years" was supposed to be what Diane sings to Renton during the withdrawal scene. Instead she sings New Order's "Temptation.'' Diane also sings the lyrics while having a bath and they can be heard again very faintly in the background during breakfast.
The biggest grossing British film of 1996.
Irvine Welsh had been approached by film-makers before about adapting "Trainspotting" for the screen but had resisted their offers. He was won over by Andrew Macdonald and John Hodge's enthusiasm for the project but only on the condition that they didn't adopt a Ken Loach semi-documentary approach to the material.
In the book, Begbie is a tall, intimidating big guy.
This movie was Kelly Macdonald's film debut.
Christopher Eccleston was offered the role of Begbie.
The opening chase scene after the robbery is a nod to The Clash's video for 'Bankrobber,' in which the bank robbers in the video are being chased in a similar fashion and similar camera shot.
Many of the book's stories and characters were dropped in order to create a cohesive movie script of adequate length.
First feature film of Kevin McKidd.
Alec Guinness has been succeeded in two of his roles by actors from Trainspotting (1996). Guinness portrayed Adolf Hitler in Hitler: The Last Ten Days (1973). Robert Carlyle portrayed Adolf Hitler in Hitler: The Rise of Evil (2003), while Ewan McGregor succeeded him in the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi.


Irvine Welsh:  as Mikey Forrester, Renton's heroin dealer.
Andrew Macdonald:  the prospective buyer of the "Victorian Townhouse" that Renton is trying to sell.
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Director Trademark 

Danny Boyle:  [bridge]  Renton is briefly seen crossing a large bridge.

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