Ewan McGregor keen to begin work on Trainspotting sequel

Ewan McGregor as Renton with Robert Carlyle playing Begbie. Picture: Miramax
Ewan McGregor as Renton with Robert Carlyle playing Begbie. Picture: Miramax
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EWAN McGREGOR has revealed that a sequel to Trainspotting may be the next film he makes in Scotland.

The Perthshire-born actor revealed he was definitely “up for it” following years of speculation and that he had changed his mind about the wisdom of the cast and crew being reunited.

McGregor there was no longer any “bad blood” between him and director Danny Boyle after their much publicised fall-out after the actor was dropped in favour of Leonardo DiCaprio for the lead role in The Beach.

McGregor, who was unveiling an on-screen depiction of Jesus and Satan at the Edinburgh International Film Festival, described Boyle as one of the best directors he had ever worked with.

The 44-year-old said Boyle, had helped him produce some of the best work of his career, including his big-screen debut, Edinburgh-set thriller Shallow Grave, which was unveiled at the EIFF 21 years ago.

He described the prospect of the team behind Trainspotting - an the adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s best-seller, about a group of drug-addicted friends in the capital - being reunited after two decades as “extraordinary.”

Ewan McGregor and Ewen Bremner (Spud) in a scene from the film Trainspotting. Picture: Miramax

Ewan McGregor and Ewen Bremner (Spud) in a scene from the film Trainspotting. Picture: Miramax

And he revealed he recently revisited some of the locations used in the film with his family to “reminisce” about his role.

Crieff-born McGregor also spoke of his frustrations at having his acting ambitions curbed at school, saying he was regarded as a trouble-maker and was accused of “copping out” by trying to pursue courses in art and music, which he was banned from taking.

McGregor, who spoke of his ambitions to return to the Star Wars films, said he would be “back in a flash” to Scotland to film again he received a good enough script.

Asked about the much-mooted follow-up to Trainspotting, he said: “It might be the film that brings me back. I would be up for it, I’ve said that to Danny. Everybody has talked about it and speculated about it, but I don’t if it’s happening yet. I’ve not seen a script and I don’t know if there is one.

I would be up for it, I’ve said that to Danny. I’ve not seen a script yet and I don’t know if there is one.

Ewan McGregor

“It’s been a long, long time. I just think I’ve changed my opinion about it. We’ve all moved on and there is a lot of water under the bridge now.

“I miss working with Danny, I did some of my best work with him and he’s one of my favourite directors I’ve worked with. There was some bad blood and ill feeling, but that’s all gone now. I think it might be extraordinary to see a sequel 20 years after the original.

It emerged two years ago that screenwriter John Hodge had started work on a story “very loosely based” on Porno, Welsh’s sequel to his original book. Boyle, Hodge and producer Andrew Macdonald would go on to make three films with McGregor, but the last, A Life Less Ordinary, was back in 1997.

McGregor said: “For years and years, I was their actor. It was more important to me than anything and it defined who I am as an actor. It set the bar very high for me and I’m always looking for that connection, that trust and the power of what you can come out with. You’ve no idea where it is coming from.

“I came back to Edinburgh earlier this year, I hadn’t been for years other than just taking off and landing, but I arranged to meet my mum, dad and brother and the four of us stayed here for a weekend. It was great, I wandered around and looked for some of the old locations from Trainspotting, like where we ran down the street and I went over the car bonnet, and all that stuff. I had a little reminisce.”

Meanwhile McGregor, who was interviewed by broadcaster Edith Bowman, said he found the prospect of playing Christ on screen in Last Days in the Desert - which depicts his 40-day fast - as “overwhelming and scary”, but insisted he was not worried about any adverse reaction to his performance.

He said he had stopped reading books about Christ, including the Bible, during his preparations for the film, and had instead decided to focus on the father-son relationship between Jesus and God.

McGregor, who admitted playing the Devil “came more nautrally,” said: “There was nothing in the film that offended me. I played him with great respect, I hope. I really tried to play the Jesus who people think of as being God’s son. I tried to make it really simple and clear.

“But he has gone out into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights for a reason, and that reason is doubt. He is questioning himself and his purpose.

“I would think a Christian person would imagine that would what Jesus went into the desert for, to reconcile his future, if you like.

“This isn’t a biblical film or a film about Jesus, it’s actually a film about fathers and sons.

“Once I started concentrating more on that and concerning myself less about what people might expect to see and started to focus on a man who is having difficulty communicating with his father it become a lot easier and more truthful.”

McGregor, who spoke of his credited his acting career to his uncle, Local Hero star Denis Lawson, who was in the audience for the “in person” event at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, recalling that he had decided to try follow in his footsteps when he was only nine years old.

McGregor said Lawson had tried to get him to recall how he had felt after being beaten up in Glasgow to help him win a place on a drama course at Kirkcaldy College while he was working as a stagehand at Perth Theatre.

McGregor, who attended Morrison’s Academy, a private school in Perth, said he was allowed to leave after just a few weeks of his fifth year by his mother, Carole, and got his theatre job the following week.

He recalled: “I didn’t really know how to go about being an actor.

“At the school I went to I did a few plays here and there. I played the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood because I was the only person in the school who could say ‘the Sheriff of Nottingham.’

“I always wanted to be an actor and at school I really channelled that desire in the performance of music. It gave me the beginnings of a love for performance.

“It actually tears me apart that the first things in school to be dropped are art, music and theatre, and that things like maths, physics and English are seen as more important. It wasn’t like that at all for me. I just wasn’t made up that way.

“I was a French horn player, I played in a pipe band, I was a drummer in a ceilidh band and I did poetry readings. It terrified me, as it still does to this day, to get up in front of people.

“But there’s something really growing about the fact you are about to do something that you’re terrified me and every part of you is telling you ‘don’t do it.’

“When I was 16 I was starting to get into trouble all the time at school. They didn’t let me do art and music. They told me it was because I was copping out. **** off.

“It was just what I liked and was interested in, but instead of encouraging it I was disallowed from doing it.”

McGregor, who played the iconic Jedi Master role of Obi-Wan Kenobi in three Stars Wars films, revealed he would be willing to step back into the role if he had the opportunity in future.

“I’m as excited about seeing the new Star Wars film as much as anyone else. I’ve seen the trailer and it looks like they’ve absolutely nailed it.”

Asked he had any advice for aspiring you actors, he told the Lyceum audience: “I always want to say what Mick Jagger said: ‘Don’t sleep with the producer.’ But it’s actually not very good advice!

“The best thing to do is just do it and work in whatever way you can. It’s never been more open to people than now, when you can make a movie on your phone, and a very good one.

“There is an amazing history of cinema to delve back into. You can learn a lot by watching great movies. Although the styles of acting change throughout the ages you can still learn a lot by watching the classic actors.

“Then should you simply try and do it, make stuff happen, devise your own work and work where you can. The best actors and musicians are the ones who have earned it.”