The original 1996 perverse comedy “Trainspotting” revealed the good, the bad and the nauseating behind a group of Edinburgh junkies in constant pursuit of their next high. Whether chasing the intoxication from the chemical bliss of heroin or the joy of youthful abandon, the film centered around the empowerment of being young.
Twenty one years later, director Danny Boyle decided it was finally time for a sequel, “T2 Trainspotting.”
“The other film is obviously a great celebration of a certain period of your life through the most extreme prism you can imagine … the update is when they’re 46 and they’re f–ked,” Boyle said in a conference call with The Daily Free Press.
Original cast members Ewan McGregor (Renton), Jonny Lee Miller (Simon) and Ewen Bremner (Spud) joined Boyle on the conference call to promote the movie’s upcoming release in the United States on March 31.
“Age is cruel, and you don’t realize that until you get to this point in your life,” said Bremner of the two-decade gap.
In conjunction with reality, time and its resulting maturation drive the plot. The film presented actors with a rare opportunity to revisit characters of their past. Rather than focusing on capturing the vitality of youth, actors must now relay the discovery of fleeting human existence. Straying away from addiction, new themes center around the evolution of masculinity and the changing presence of friendship.
“It’s not your confidence, it’s your brash attitude to life, you don’t feel invincible anymore … Your mortality is more evident to you,” Miller said.
This deeper understanding supports Boyle’s incentive to wait until the right time to create the sequel.
Ten years ago, Boyle declined the chance to bring the cast back together after the release of Irvine Welsh’s novel “Porno.” The book was a sequel to the basis of “Trainspotting,” Welsh’s earlier release of the same name.
“It didn’t feel like there was a reason … The actors didn’t really feel any different, they didn’t look any different,” he said when explaining why he passed on the opportunity. The group later joked that the youthful appearances resulted from the preservative power of effective facial creams.
Bremner said he supports the delay with his own realization.
“It took us 20 years to realize that we’re just running on the spot and time is flying by,” he explained.
While the main group junkies didn’t change, Boyle took care to not rely on one-pony tricks in the new storyline.
“It has its own right to exist,” he said.
For example, Boyle ensured that “T2’s” soundtrack matched its own respective rhythm and “heartbeat.”
Despite the time apart, the group’s chemistry was reminiscent of an old group of school friends throughout the interview. When one member cracked a joke, the others created a chorus of laughter.
The sequel served as a reunion of sorts after many of its originators went their separate ways. Some credits include Boyle’s direction of Academy Award winner “Slumdog Millionaire” and McGregor’s assumption of Obi-Wan Kenobi in the “Star Wars” prequel trilogy.
“I hadn’t seen Jonny for maybe 15 years. And I hadn’t seen Bobby, I can’t believe that’s true,” McGregor said about the separation.
While each professional went onto their own paths, their return to “T2” stands as a testament to their loyalty to the work and each other.
In reference to the first film, McGregor shares their mutual understanding as artists.
“We were doing something really special and important, and so we were giving it our all,” McGregor said.
The same beliefs are carried into this new piece. While the motivations may be different, Boyle encourages each viewer to take their own derivations from the film. Rather than imposing certain messages, Boyle said he believes the work serves the purpose to be honest for the exact purpose.
“An actor’s filter is their safeguard of the quality of their work,” Boyle said, “and it has to be honest.”