In 2002, author Irvine Welsh published Porno, a sequel to his 1993 novel Trainspotting. In turn, director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, Steve Jobs) contemplated a sequel to Trainspotting, his 1996 film based on Welsh's book. His initial attempt at coming up with a script fell flat.
"We had a go at it, and it was not very good," he says during a recent conference call. "I didn't even bother sending [the script] to the actors because it didn't feel like there was a real reason to do it. Obviously, there's an onus on you when you return to something with the impact that the first film had. If you're going to update it, you've got to have a reason. And it didn't feel like there was a reason. Also, the actors didn't really feel any different, and they didn't look any different. We used to joke that they looked after themselves so well they still looked in their early 20s."
But two years ago, Boyle and screenwriter John Hodges met in Edinburgh with Welsh and a couple of producers. That meeting proved more fruitful and led to T2 Trainspotting, which reunites the cast of miscreants from the original movie, including Mark "Rent Boy" Renton (Ewan McGregor), Daniel "Spud" Murphy (Ewen Bremner) and Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson (Jonny Lee Miller) as well as their nemesis Francis "Franco" Begbie (Robert Carlyle). Just as unhinged as the original, T2 Trainspotting features excessive drug use and gratuitous sex and violence. And yes, it boasts a killer soundtrack too. The film opens Friday areawide.
"What emerged was much more personal," says Boyle. "It is obviously a sequel; you can't deny that, but it has its own right to exist really, which is obviously the passage of time, and especially masculine behavior over time. The other film is obviously a great celebration of a certain period of your life through the most extreme prism you can imagine, these junkies in Edinburgh, and then obviously the update is when they're 46 and they're fucked, as Renton says."
The plot centers on Mark's return to Leith after having moved to Amsterdam. Simon greats him with a fierce beating and Francis, who's just escaped from the pen, wants to kill him. Despite their simmering feud, Mark and Simon form an alliance along with Daniel, who still struggles with his addiction to heroin.
The film features some terrifically outlandish moments, and Miller and McGregor really shine when their characters have a go at one another. While the rampant use of drugs might turn off more prudish types, Boyle says he's simply trying to stay true to his source material and let his talented cast take it from there.
"You hope people recognize [the film] as honest really," says Boyle. "Whatever the circumstances that you're portraying, however extreme the story — and you certainly find this with good actors — it won't let you do anything that feels dishonest. Doing a film like this, which comes after a first film which was such a hit and such a celebration of such extremes, it won't let you just repeat that because they're now in their mid-40s, these guys, and it's a different landscape for them; they don't have all the answers."
In other words, the movie represents the often-harsh realities of aging.
"You've got all the answers when you're in your early 20s, and you mock and sneer about the whole thing really," says Boyle. "And that's expected, and welcomed actually, as you step out of childhood, you're allowed that. You're not when you get in your mid-40s. So, I hope people take away that it's an honest picture, however extreme the elements, you see of them all."