By Martin Owens
Almost 20 years after the release of the hugely successful and popular Trainspotting and 10 years after its sequel, Porno, Irvine Welsh has once again delved into the characters of Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie.
Skagboys, Welsh’s favourite word for heroin, is the prequel to Trainspotting and joins the characters as they descend into addiction.
“Skagboys was originally the first 100,000 words of Trainspotting,” explains Welsh. “I cut it out, though, and plunged the reader straight into their world.
“Skagboys follows the gang just as they started to get into heroin. I’ve had it lying around for a while, wondering what to do with it.” Welsh admits there was difficulties in writing both the sequel and prequel to the bestseller after so long. “I haven’t encountered it in years, so I had to read Trainspotting again, which was weird.”
And with the adaptation proving to be such a hit, Welsh admits there was difficulties in getting to know his characters as he first wrote them. “It took a couple of reads before I could see the characters as I wrote them and get the faces of Ewan [McGregor], Bobby [Robert Carlyle], Ewen [Bremner] and Johnny [Lee Miller] out my head.” Capturing the success of Trainspotting in later adaptations has proved to be a tough task for Welsh and he has confessed that the critical acclaim has led to too much pressure and expectation being placed on his later work.
“Trainspotting has definitely cast a big shadow,” admits Welsh. “I can’t complain personally, though, as it’s done that for just about every edgy British film.”
One adaptation that Welsh believes will not suffer in the shadow of his first novel is his third novel, ‘Filth’. Filth follows the life of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson as he is winding down at work and gearing up socially – kicking off Christmas with a week of sex and drugs in Amsterdam. There are irritating flies in the ointment, though, including a missing wife, a nagging cocaine habit, a dramatic deterioration in his genital health, and a string of increasingly demanding extra-marital affairs.
He said: “I’ve seen the dailies [unedited footage] and they’ve exceeded my expectations. I think this is the best ever cinema adaptation of my work. James McAvoy is Bruce Robertson. “
Alongside James McAvoy on the cast of Filth is acclaimed British star, Jamie Bell, who will take on the character of Ray Lennox – Robertson’s colleague/sidekick.
“James as Bruce and Jamie as Lennox are just electric. They will Almost 20 years after the release of the hugely successful and popular Trainspotting and 10 years after its sequel, Porno, Irvine Welsh has once again delved into the characters of Renton, Sick Boy, Spud, and Begbie. deserve all the plaudits they’ll get from this movie.”
The adaptation of Filth, which has been in the works for years, has been close to cancelation numerous times in the past. It wasn’t until Welsh met Scottish director and producer Jon Baird that the film started to make progress. “Relief is the best way to describe it [the film being made],” confesses Welsh. “Meeting Jon Baird, who produced and directed it, was a game-changer. He had an allencompassing and compelling vision of how it would translate to cinema. It had so many previous homes, where nobody quite knew what to do with it. It needed somebody to really take it by the scuff of the neck, and Jon did that.”
Now that Filth has finally found a home, Welsh is now focussing on other aspects of his work. “I’m very busy at the moment. I’m working with HBO and the team behind the show Eastbound and Down on a US drama series. I’ve also got another film out and a novel that’s out soon.”
His other film is ‘Ecstasy’, an adaptation of his short story Ecstasy: Three Tales of Chemical Romance, stars Billy Boyd and was released on April 20th.
“Ecstasy is such a fun, cool movie – it’s a total romance. It’s like Sex in the City with young people instead of ancient ones and loads of drugs instead of Blackberries.”
Skagboys by Irvine Welsh is out now.