‘Trainspotting’ the Cast and Characters: Then and Now

The cast of Trainspotting 2 standing in a field

T2 Trainspotting cast | Cloud Eight Films

The 1996 black comedy, Trainspotting, is an adaptation of a book by Irvine Welsh. It showed Renton, a heroin addict, trying to get clean while being surrounded by drug-addicted friends. The movie’s plot got a lot of criticism before it came out because many feared the movie would glamorize drug use. However, the gritty film showed the dark side of drug use, became highly regarded, and was nominated for Best Adapted Screenplay at the Academy Awards. Now, over 20 years later, we are getting a sequel titled, T2 Trainspotting.

It’ll be interesting to see how the movie’s characters have changed after all this time, since, of course, the cast members have gotten older. So, in order to see how much the cast and characters have changed, here are the Trainspotting characters then and now.

1. Ewan McGregor as Renton

Ewan McGregor as Renton in Trainspotting and Trainspotting 2 side by side

Left: Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting | Channel Four Films, Right: T2 Trainspotting | Channel Four Films

The actor lost a whopping 26 pounds for the role of Renton. He also had very short hair for the role. Years later, it looks like the actor is at a different weight. His character also has adopted a new style in clothing and hair.

Since filming the first movie, McGregor played young Obi-Wan Kenobi in the Star Wars prequels. He also starred in Big Fish, which got Oscar buzz, but sadly didn’t result in an Oscar nomination for him.

2. Ewen Bremner as Spud

Ewen Bremner as Spud in Trainspotting and Trainspotting 2 side by side

Left: Ewen Bremner in Trainspotting | Channel Four Films, Right: T2 Trainspotting | Channel Four Films

The actor plays the kind-hearted addict, Spud. It looks like the character actually hasn’t changed much when it comes to style.

Ewen Bremner has acted in Snatch, Black Hawk Down, and Pearl Harbor since starring in Trainspotting. He will also be in the Wonder Woman movie.

3. Jonny Lee Miller as Sick Boy

Johnny Lee Miller as Begbie in Trainspotting and Trainspotting 2 side by side

Left: Jonny Lee Miller in Trainspotting | Channel Four Films, Right: T2 Trainspotting | Channel Four Films

Jonny Lee Miller plays the addicted con artist in the films. This transformation might be the biggest, considering Sick Boy now looks much more intimidating and has less hair.

The actor is currently starring in the Sherlock Holmes adaptation, Elementary with Lucy Liu.

4. Robert Carlyle as Begbie

Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting and Trainspotting 2 side by side

Left: Robert Carlyle in Trainspotting | Channel Four Films, Right: T2 Trainspotting | Channel Four Films

Robert Carlyle plays the hot-headed Begbie. It looks like the character still accessorizes the same way, and kept the awesome mustache after all these years.

After the first movie, Carlyle starred in The Full Monty, 28 Weeks Later, and is now playing Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time.

5. Kelly Macdonald as Diane

Kelly Macdonald as Diane in Trainspotting and Trainspotting 2 side by side

Left: Kelly Macdonald in Trainspotting | Channel Four Films, Right: T2 Trainspotting | Channel Four Films

The actress played the young school girl who comes across Renton in the first movie and becomes his underage seductress.

Kelly Macdonald has had some cool roles since then, including playing Helena Ravenclaw in the Harry Potter series and Merida in Brave. Now, the actress is back and rocking short hair for the role of Diane.

 6. James Cosmo as Mr. Renton

James Cosmo as Mr. Renton in Trainspotting and Trainspotting 2 side by side

Left: James Cosmo in Trainspotting | Channel Four Films, Right: T2 Trainspotting | Channel Four Films

James Cosmo plays the father of Renton, who wants his son to get sober and stay clean. It looks like the character has grown out his hair and changed his facial hair for the second film.

After Trainspotting, Cosmo went on to act in Troy and The Chronicles of Narnia. He also played Father Kellan Ashby in Sons of Anarchy.

7. Shirley Henderson as Gail

Shirley Hednerson as Gail in Trainspotting and Trainspotting 2 side by side

Left: Shirley Henderson in Trainspotting | Channel Four Films, Right: T2 Trainspotting | Channel Four Films

Gail has probably the most disgusting and memorable scene in the original movie. Thankfully, Shirley Henderson is back to play the role. We don’t get to see much of her in the trailer, but Gail looks pretty different now.

The actress, also was in Harry Potter where she played Moaning Myrtle.

8. Irvine Welsh as Mikey Forrester

Irvine Welsh as Mikey in Trainspotting and Trainspotting 2 side by side

Left: Irvine Welsh in Trainspotting | Channel Four Films, Right: T2 Trainspotting | Channel Four Films

Irvine Welsh played the drug dealer in the first movie. It looks like his character has moved up in the business and has fancier clothes and jewelry. He also doesn’t have any hair!

The actor has been doing more writing than acting over the years. The last thing he wrote was Filth starring James McAvoy.

Ewan McGregor, 1995 versus 2017

Ewan McGregor

Left: Ewan McGregor | YouTube, Right: Ewan McGregor | Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images

We already looked into Renton’s then and now, but we couldn’t stop ourselves from taking a second look at Ewan McGregor. On the left is a picture from an interview he did promoting the first film in 1996. The picture on the right is him at the world premiere of T2: Trainspotting. Way to make us feel old, McGregor!

Follow Nicole Weaver on Twitter @nikkibernice

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