But now they are back in the city to shoot the long-awaited follow-up and Muirhouse shopping centre was yesterday turned into the latest location for the much-hyped sequel, with excited residents, photographers and fans gathering to watch the action unfold.
A crowd of around 40 people looked on as Ewen Bremner, who plays Daniel “Spud” Murphy, was filmed strutting into the run-down mall off Pennywell Road with his trademark lolloping, loose-limbed gait.
But the simple scene – which was shot four times before director Danny Boyle was happy with it – did not give much away about the plot.
And despite the best efforts of curious onlookers, the cast and crew were understandably tight-lipped.
Set 20 years after the events of the original film, Trainspotting 2 will be loosely based on author Irvine Welsh’s follow-up novel, Porno.
The book, which uses the pornography industry as its seedy backdrop rather than heroin use, catches up with the main characters as they hatch yet more questionable plans to make money.
Its cinematic adaptation will see the return of original cast members Ewan McGregor, Bremner, Jonny Lee Miller, and Robert Carlyle – with Oscar-winning Danny Boyle back behind the camera and screenwriter John Hodge once again writing the script.
Anticipation has been slowly building since Boyle first announced his intention to make a sequel in 2009 – and excitement recently reached fever pitch when the crew were spotted filming in Edinburgh earlier this week.
Boyle, 59, was seen directing Bremner in Leith – where most of the book’s action takes place – on Tuesday, before production moved to a car park in Gorgie.
Yesterday, Bremner, 44, was dressed in an ill-fitting grey suit and flamboyant orange shirt as the film’s sizeable production crew moved location once again to Muirhouse.
Despite their number and some expensive-looking equipment, they took just half an hour to set up once they had arrived outside the disused shopping centre.
Filming swiftly got under way but exactly what was being shot was shrouded in mystery.
Spud looked like a washed-up shadow of his former self as he flopped through the mall, his gurning, shell-shocked expression perhaps hinting at future troubles to come.
Meanwhile, a circle of chairs was set up in the corner of the shopping centre in the style of an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, leading one onlooker to speculate that they were a projection of Spud’s own subconscious as he tried to kick his drug habit.
The crew favoured a get-up-and-go style of film-making that allowed locals to come and go as they pleased, meaning it was easy to get close to the action.
However, the easy-going method was tested to its limit as children gathered round the production staff, eager to find out what was going on.
The adults, meanwhile, were free to take selfies with the good-humoured cast and crew between takes.
One onlooker said: “It’s fantastic. I’ve got my selfie, so I’m happy.
“[Bremner’s] facial expressions as Spud are great – he must practise them for ages.”
Last night, the crew were expected to move to Leith Docks for a further late-night shoot, with some roads closed until the early morning.
Trainspotting 2 is expected to be in cinemas next year.