Star-Spotting After 20 Years
Danny Boyle’s celebrated Scottish indie Trainspotting, based on Irvine Welsh’s novel of the same name, first hit theaters in the U.S. on July 19, 1996. Ewan McGregor stars as Mark “Rent Boy” Renton, a heroin addict who quits, goes through withdrawal, relapses, and commits various felonies with his crew of junkie friends in the worst part of Edinburgh. In celebration of the cult hit’s 20th anniversary — and in anticipation of the forthcoming next film, T2: Trainspotting (arriving in theaters in February 2017) — see what the cast is up to now, ahead.
Before his breakthrough performance as Renton in Trainspotting, McGregor had already collaborated with Danny Boyle on the director’s first feature, 1994’s Shallow Grave, in addition to a few other, minor credits. In the 20 years since he played “Rent Boy,” however, McGregor has become a superstar of both indie films and studio blockbusters. He has collaborated with such eminent filmmakers as Todd Haynes (1998’s Velvet Goldmine), Baz Luhrmann (2001’s Moulin Rouge!), Ridley Scott (2001’s Black Hawk Down), Tim Burton (2003’s Big Fish), Ron Howard (2009’s Angels & Demons), and Roman Polanski (2010’s The Ghost Writer), and he played Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequel trilogy (1999–2005). Next, McGregor will star in and make his directorial debut with this year’s American Pastoral, and in 2017, he will star in the third season of Fargo on FX, play Lumière in Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast, and reprise his role as Renton in Trainspotting 2.
Bremner had accumulated a handful of credits in the UK before he played Daniel “Spud” Murphy in Trainspotting, and he has been active in the industry ever since. Some of his credits from the last 20 years include 2001’s Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down, 2005’s Match Point, 2007’s Death at a Funeral, 2012’s Great Expectations, and 2013’s Snowpiercer. In 2017, he will appear in The Lake, join the DC Extended Universe in Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, and reprise his role as Spud in Trainspotting 2.
Jonny Lee Miller
Other than his starring role in 1995’s Hackers, Miller had worked primarily in British television before he played Simon “Sick Boy” Williamson in Trainspotting. Since then, in addition to a thriving stage career, Miller has appeared in 1997’s Afterglow, 1999’s Mansfield Park, 2006’s The Flying Scotsman, 2009’s Endgame, and 2012’s Dark Shadows. On the small screen, Miller starred on Eli Stone for the duration of the series’ run from 2008–2009, appeared in the fifth season of Dexter in 2010, and currently stars as Sherlock Holmes on Elementary. He will play Sick Boy again in next year’s Trainspotting sequel.
McKidd made his big-screen debut when he played Tommy in Trainspotting. Since then, he has appeared on television in the 2000 Anna Karenina miniseries and on Rome from 2005–2007, and he has played Dr. Owen Hunt on Grey’s Anatomy since 2008. McKidd’s film credits have included 1999’s Topsy-Turvy, 2008’s Made of Honor, and 2010’s Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. Due to — spoiler alert — Tommy’s death in Trainspotting, McKidd will not reprise the role in the 2017 sequel.
Carlyle had a variety of roles through the early ‘90s, but broke out with the one-two punch of Trainspotting and The Full Monty in 1996 and 1997, respectively. Since playing Renton’s psychopathic friend Begbie, his film credits have included The World Is Not Enough and Angela’s Ashes in 1999, Eragon in 2006, and 2007’s 28 Weeks Later. Notable among his various television credits are his starring role on Stargate Universe from 2009–2011 and his portrayal of Rumpelstiltskin on Once Upon a Time since 2011. Next, he will step back into Begbie’s shoes for Trainspotting 2.
Macdonald made her acting debut playing Diane in Trainspotting, and has been a prolific actress since. Some of her notable credits include 2001’s Gosford Park, 2003’s Intermission, 2007’s No Country for Old Men, and 2012’s Anna Karenina. In 2011, she joined the Harry Potter universe as the Grey Lady in Deathly Hallows Part 2, and in 2012, she provided the voice for the Princess Merida in Pixar’s Brave. From 2010–2014, she starred on Boardwalk Empire as Margaret Thompson. She will appear next in this year’s Swallows and Amazons and next year’s Okja.
Over the course of the early ‘90s, in addition to collecting a handful of acting credits, Mullan wrote and directed three short films before he played Swanney in Trainspotting. He made his feature debut as a writer-director with 1998’s Orphans, which he followed up with 2002’s The Magdalene Sisters and 2010’s Neds, also performing in the latter two films. Mullan’s other acting credits since Trainspotting include 2006’s Children of Men, 2014’s Hercules, and the last two Harry Potter films, in which he played Death Eater Yaxley. In television, he starred in the first season of Top of the Lake in 2013, and played Jim O’Casey in the miniseries Olive Kitteridge in 2014. He will deliver a motion-capture performance as Akela in Andy Serkis’ 2018 Jungle Book.
Nicholas, who built a long television résumé over the ‘70s, ‘80s, and early ‘90s, picked up her first feature credit when she played Mrs. Renton in Trainspotting. Her roles since 1996 have included 1997’s Behind the Lines, 2009’s Bomber, and 2014’s The Quiet Ones. She will appear next in 2016’s Synced.
Cosmo had already completed two of his most famous roles, in 1986’s Highlander and 1995’s Braveheart, before he played Mr. Renton in Trainspotting. Since then, he has appeared in 1996’s Emma, 2004’s Troy, and 2005’s The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (in which he played Father Christmas), among many other credits. His long list of television roles includes playing Jeor Mormont on Game of Thrones from 2011–2013. He will appear in the 2016 remake of Ben-Hur, among various other upcoming projects.
Vidler had made her feature debut in 1993’s Naked and made a few television appearances before she played Allison in Trainspotting. Since then, her credits have included the 1997 TV movie The Woman in White, 2002’s Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself, and episodes of various TV shows.
Director Danny Boyle was just starting out when Trainspotting hit theaters in 1996. The drug-addict dark comedy was his sophomore directorial effort, after 1994’s Shallow Grave, and he has amassed an impressive résumé since. His directorial credits include 2002’s 28 Days Later, 2008’s Best Picture–winning Slumdog Millionaire, 2010’s 127 Hours, and 2015’s Steve Jobs. He now has an Oscar and a Golden Globe to his name — both for directing Slumdog — as well as a long list of nominations for various awards. What’s next for Boyle? Why, 2017’s Trainspotting 2, of course.