Celebrate the 20th Anniversary of ‘Trainspotting’ With These 20 Facts

Read on for how the Beastie Boys inspired the movie’s opening scene.

July 19th marks the 20th anniversary of the U.S. premiere of Trainspotting, director Danny Boyle’s druggy breakout hit about heroin-addicted Scottish petty criminals that made Ewan McGregor a star before he ever played a young Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Here, 20 facts you probably didn’t know about his stone-cold cult classic. 

1. Ewan McGregor cut dairy and alcohol from his diet for only two months to get his heroin-addicted character’s skinny, beaten-up look.

2. The film took just a month and a half to shoot.

Due to the film’s relatively small $2 million budget, everything had to be done in six weeks.

3. The scene of Renton (McGregor) being hit by a car took 20 takes to complete.

4. Kelly Macdonald accidentally invited her family to watch the shooting of her topless sex scene.


5. Twins were used to film the part of the baby.

Taking a note straight out of Full House’s book, twins to play the infamous drug house baby. We assume neither twin was actually able to turn its head 360 degrees, though. 

6. The shit in the “worst toilet in Scotland” scene was just chocolate.

Apparently, it smelled delicious.

7. Director Danny Boyle had his actors prepare for the role by watching The Exorcist and A Clockwork Orange.

He wanted his cast to study the way rebellious (and apparently demon-possessed) youth acted in these classics.

8. One of the BB gun scenes was originally slated to have music from Mission Impossible playing in the background.

9. Trainspotting may have died but for its vibrant marketing campaign.

£800,000—just over a million dollars in U.S. currency—was spent on posters detailing who the characters were across the United Kingdom.

10. The first 20 minutes of the film was re-dubbed for American audiences because the Scottish accents were considered too heavy.

11. Ewan McGregor learned how to make heroin for the role and even considered trying it.

He used a glucose formula instead of the actual drug, however.

12. The role of Begbie nearly went to Christopher Eccleston.

The Doctor Who star was heavily considered for the role before it went to Robert Carlyle.

13. There’s no actual train spotting in the film.

Boyle called it a metaphor. Just as people who don’t train spot can’t understand the hobby, people who don’t use heroin can’t understand abusing it.

14. The Beastie Boys’ “Sabotage” music video inspired the opening scene.

15. A prosthetic arm was used for the close up shots of heroin injection.

16. Red and green colors were used thematically to illustrate the difference between a ‘pure’ life and a life of drug abuse.

17. Begbie (Robert Carlyle) was played as a closeted gay man.

After reading the scene where the psychopathic brawler Begbie hooks up with a transgender woman, Carlyle interpreted the character as a gay man who was aggressive because of his repressed sexuality. Irvine Welsh, who wrote the book the film is based on, agreed.

18. Kelly Macdonald blew away the rest of the actresses who auditioned for her role.

Then 19, she was said to have stood out from a crowd of actresses during the open casting for her character of seductive school girl Diane.

19. Diane and Renton’s sex scene was cut by one second for the film’s American release. 
It was so the movie could get an R-rating. 

20. There’s going to be a sequel.

h/t IMDb