trainspotting - where are they now?

With the film’s 20th anniversary on the horizon and news of a sequel, we take a look at what the main cast of Trainspotting have been up to.

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10 September 2015, 11:15am

19 years after its release, not only does Trainspotting remain one of Scotland's most raw and uncouth film exports, in 2015 it serves as the perfect antithesis to the collective beige of the onslaught of spy films and computer generated superhero epics. An adaptation of Irvine Welsh's novel of the same name, neither before nor since have the effects of heroin been so indulged on screen or the bleak realities of addiction so artistically (read: graphically) explored. While poster shops and misguided marketers of the noughties truly bastardised its opening monologue, seminal moments like Rent Boy's toilet dive, Spud's STB moment and the unprecedentedly bleak and brutal realism of the sudden infant death scene (and still and still the tabloids managed to get themselves in a lather about how Trainspotting 'glorified drug use') make it an outrageous, iconic film like no other.

It nurtured the careers of Robert Carlyle and Jonny Lee Miller, and catapulted Ewan McGregor and director Danny Boyle from the underbelly of Edinburgh into Hollywood and beyond. Here's what some of the cast of Trainspotting have been up to in not much detail at all. Hint: it's mostly Ha'rry Potter.

Ewan McGregor - Mark "Rent Boy" Renton
Whilst already enjoying some success off the back of his role in Shallow Grave, it was McGregor's role as Mark Renton that made him a household name and shot his career into a whole new galaxy (quite literally, his role as Obi-Wan Kenobi followed not long after). You've probably seen him in the greatest film of all time, Moulin Rouge, but have you seen his... Instagram? Like this and this. Listen out of for his dulcet Scottish tones in an upcoming remake of Beauty and the Beast.

Robert Carlyle - Francis "Franco" Begbie
The second most high profile role in Robert Carlyle's career followed in quick succession to Trainspotting; Gaz in The Full Monty, making the mid-90s perhaps his golden years. In spite of this, roles in The World Is Not Enough and Boyle's The Beach and 28 Weeks Later, plus a rash of American TV roles mean Carlyle's trademark centre-parting and truculent stare have remained in the public conscience ever since. He also just released his directorial debut, The Legend of Barney Thompson.

Ewen Bremner - Daniel "Spud" Murphy
Despite that show-stealing bed-soiling scene, Ewen has not quite encountered the same success as his Ewan-with-an-a co-star. That being said, a steady stream of work has followed, including a Trainspotting reunion with EwAn in Jack the Giant Slayer. The Herald Scotland recently confirmed everything we wanted to be true of him; "Quiet, unassuming, friendly, thoughtful, and not a man given to rash outbursts." 

Jonny Lee Miller - Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson
A whole host of TV and film roles followed for Sick Boy, including but not limited to the actual role of Angelina Jolie's actual husband in real life for 18 months. Catch him as Sherlock Holmes in the US TV show Elementary, and looking hunky on the red carpet. We're not in Leith anymore.

Kelly Macdonald - Diane Coulston
19 years old at the time, Macdonald had no acting experience when she auditioned for the film, but thanks to the role of beguiling Diane, has gone on to appear in Harry Potter, No Country for Old Men and Anna Karenina. Look out for her in Ricky Gervais' new film Special Correspondents next year.

Kevin McKidd - Thomas "Tommy" MacKenzie
Staying loyal to Scottish cinema (a quick glance at his filmography confirms a career continually cast as either a Hamish, Kenny or Duncan), McKidd's career didn't however enjoy the instant ascent enjoyed by some of his co-stars. A recent role as the voice of Lord MacGuffin in Pixar's Brave however meant another Hollywood Trainspotting reunion, this time with Kelly Macdonald.

Peter Mullan - Swanney "Mother Superior"
A few things, mostly Harry Potter.

Shirley Henderson - Gail Houston
Harry Potter.

Danny Boyle - Director
The Olympic Opening Ceremony and possibly other things. But not Harry Potter

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