Edit
Trainspotting (1996) Poster

(1996)

Trivia

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.
Jump to: Cameo (3) | Director Trademark (1) | Spoilers (1)
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.
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.
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.
Although it looks thoroughly off putting, the feces in the Worst Toilet in Scotland scene was actually made from chocolate and smelled quite pleasant.
Ewan McGregor read books about crack and heroin to prepare for the role. He also went to Glasgow and met people from the Calton Athletic Recovery Group, an organisation of recovering heroin addicts. He was taught how to cook up heroin with a spoon using glucose powder. McGregor considered injecting heroin to better understand the character, but eventually decided against it.
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.
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).
Ewen Bremner (Spud) had previously played Renton in a stage adaptation of the novel.
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.
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.
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.
The whole film was shot in just seven and a half weeks.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Jonny Lee Miller was cast on the strength of his performance in Hackers (1995) and his ability to do an uncanny Sean Connery accent.
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.
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.
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.
Was ranked number 10 on the British Film Institute's all time best British films.
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.
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)
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.
Due to the skimpy budget, most scenes had to be shot in just one take.
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.
Of the main cast, only Jonny Lee Miller is not a Scot.
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.
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).
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.
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.
The toilet-diving scene is a reference to Thomas Pynchon's 1973 novel "Gravity's Rainbow".
Although set in Edinburgh, most interiors, and some of the exteriors, were shot in Glasgow. A notable exception is the chase down Princes Street.
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.
Ewan McGregor shaved his head and lost 2 stone for the film.
The biggest grossing British film of 1996.
Christopher Eccleston was offered the role of Begbie, because he resembled how Danny Boyle imagined the character in the book.
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.
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.
This movie was Kelly Macdonald's film debut.
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".
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.
In the book, Begbie is a tall, intimidating big guy.
Many of the book's stories and characters were dropped in order to create a cohesive movie script of adequate length.
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).
First feature film of Kevin McKidd.
For the scene where Renton sinks into the floor after overdosing on heroin, the crew built a platform above a trap door and lowered Ewan McGregor down.
9 of 9 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The look of the film was influenced by the colours of Francis Bacon's paintings, which according to Danny Boyle represented "a sort of in-between land - part reality, part fantasy".
8 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Danny Boyle was excited by the story's potential to be the "most energetic film you've ever seen - about something that ultimately ends up in purgatory or worse".
6 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Filming took place in the height of summer. This was problematic when it came to the night shoots - given it doesn't get dark in Scotland until around 11pm in the summer and the sun's up again by 4.30am. On the plus side, the short nights meant that Danny Boyle and co could cram an awful lot of filming into one day (the director was usually on set around 7am and often didn't finish until 8.30pm), which given the fact they didn't have that long to make the movie came in very handy indeed.
6 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Sick Boy has black hair in the book (in the sequel novel Porno, he is described as looking like Steven Seagal. In the film, he's blonde.
5 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Producer Andrew Macdonald read Irvine Welsh's book on a plane in December 1993 and felt that it could be made into a film. He turned it on to director Danny Boyle and writer John Hodge in February 1994.
7 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Although the film eliminated several characters from the book, some of their traits and/or situations made it into the film. Spud's 'Traditional Scotish Breakfast' scene originally happened to Davie Mitchell, Tommy's decline into abuse and death originally happened to Matty Connell. Spud also inherited traits from Rab "Second Prize" McLaughlin. Allison was combined with Lesley, who was Dawn's mother in the book.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The scene where Renton is hit by a car took two hours and twenty takes to film, complete with a whole lot of intervention from the on-set nurse.
4 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
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.
Picked by Entertainment Weekly magazine as one of the "50 Greatest Independent Films" in a special supplement devoted to independent films that was only distributed to subscribers in November 1997.
6 of 7 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The film was shot in mid-1995 over seven weeks on a budget of $2.5 million with the cast and crew working out of an abandoned cigarette factory in Glasgow.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
For the look of the film, Danny Boyle was influenced by the colours of Francis Bacon's paintings, which represented "a sort of in-between land - part reality, part fantasy".
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Danny Boyle also directed the revamped music video for Iggy Pop's "Lust for Life", which was used to promote the film.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Begbie's moustache was based on Liverpool striker Ian Rush.
3 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Shirley Henderson and Kelly Macdonald went on to star as ghosts in the Harry Potter films. Henderson played Moaning Myrtle; MacDonald played Helena Ravenclaw.
6 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
In the book, Mark Renton has an older brother named Billy who is a soldier in the British Army. In real life, Ewan McGregor has an older brother in the RAF.
4 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Scott Rudin , apparently wanted to give Danny Boyle, John Hodge and Andrew Macdonald $250,000 towards making any film they wanted, off the back of Shallow Grave (1994). Boyle dismissed the offer as 'ridiculous', adding, 'We haven't even met the guy.'
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Danny Boyle told Empire that those involved with the film were making 'around 700 quid a week'.
2 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
For the role of Diane, Danny Boyle wanted an actress with no previous experience "so no-one would twig that a 19-year-old was playing the part" of a 14-year-old. The filmmakers sent flyers to nightclubs and boutiques and even approached people on the street, eventually hiring Kelly Macdonald.
3 of 4 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider.
3 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Kelly Macdonald and Kevin McKidd would later have voice roles in Brave (2012).
3 of 5 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The c word is used 18 times.
4 of 8 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The park where Renton and Sick Boy discuss was also the site of the grave in Danny Boyle's previous film, Shallow Grave (1994).
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Ewen Bremner had played Renton in the stage adaptation of the book.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Danny Boyle convinced Irvine Welsh to let Andrew Macdonald option the rights to his book by writing him a letter stating that they were "the two most important Scotsmen since Kenny Dalglish and Alex Ferguson". Welsh remembered that originally the people wanting to option his book "wanted to make a po-faced piece of social realism like Christiane F. (1981) or The Basketball Diaries (1995)". He was impressed that Boyle, Hodge and Macdonald wanted everyone to see the film and "not just the arthouse audience".
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Tommy's last name was changed from Lawrence in the book to Mackenzie in the film.
2 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Kelly Mcdonald, in her naiveté, invited her mother and brother to the set while filming her sex scene with Ewan McGregor.
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Kelly Mcdonald recalled that she almost wrecked her screen debut by getting drunk: "I think it was my first day filming - a whole day and night shoot.

"All the boys were quite naughty and were drinking, so I was drinking. I'd been in the pub for hours with various people who weren't filming scenes, and Shirley Henderson [who played Gail] said, 'You might want to stop drinking'. She was totally right. I think I was actually hungover by the time I did the scene. I was so young. I was flipping between the excitement of these boys I was hanging around with because they were all so cool and charismatic and had lots of stories and then being a nervous wreck and hiding in the toilets."
1 of 1 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
Renton has ginger hair in the book, to the point where he is described as resembling Alex McLeish. He has a shaved head in the film.
1 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The film's soundtrack features two different songs both titled, Temptation from Heaven 17 and New Order.
1 of 3 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink
The film is Dale Winton's first (and only) feature film appearance.
0 of 2 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Cameo 

Irvine Welsh: as Mikey Forrester, Renton's heroin dealer.
John Hodge: store security officer in pursuit of an unruly pair in opening scene.
Andrew Macdonald: the prospective buyer of the "Victorian Townhouse" that Renton is trying to sell.
8 of 17 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

Director Trademark 

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

Spoilers 

The trivia item below may give away important plot points.

It is generally accepted that the baby died of starvation and/or dehidration.
0 of 6 found this interesting Interesting? | Share this
Share this: Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Permalink

See also

Goofs | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

Contribute to This Page