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Written by Claire Cornwall
Mark "Rent Boy" Renton
Renton is the primary character in the movie and is a morally ambiguous heroin addict whose actions create a feeling of ambivalence in the audience. To play him McGregor lost 28 pounds and shaved his head to magnify his gaunt appearance. To learn more about heroin addiction he read books and went so far as to travel to Glasgow to meet recovering heroin and crack addicts at the Calton Athletic Recovery Group. He also learned how to cook up heroin with a spoon and considered injecting it to better understand the character but ultimately decided against it.
Jonny Lee Miller
Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson
Sick Boy is a con-man and also a heroin addict. Miller, a Londoner, came to director Danny Boyle's attention in the movie "Hackers" in which he has an American accent and Miller did not disappoint at his audition, reading for the role in a Sean Connery Scottish accent.
Daniel "Spud" Murphy
Ewen Bremner had already played the role of the good-natured Spud in the stage adaptation of "Trainspotting" and readily agreed to recreate the role on screen, stating that the characters felt like "part of my heritage".
Francis "Franco" Begbie
Psychotic Begbie is a pivotal role in the movie and one that Carlyle plays with a menacing combination of sanity and sociopathy, but surprisingly he was not the first choice for the role. An actor named Christopher Eccelstone closely resembled how Danny Boyle had visualized the character in the book and he was the original choice for Begbie until Boyle decided to cast Carlyle instead. Carlyle said of his role, "I've met loads of Begbies in my time. Wander round Glasgow on Saturday night and you've a good chance of running into Begbie."
Thomas "Tommy" MCKenzie
Tommy is a clean-cut athletic guy and Boyle needed an actor for this role who could film in real time and lose weight and muscle mass to show his decline. Tommy's descents seems worse than that of his friends because he was so athletic in appearance at the start of the movie.
Diane meets Renton in a nightclub passing herself of as a young woman but is in reality a fourteen year old girl with fake identification and an unruly nature. Danny Boyle cast an unknown actress for this role because it was imperative the audience found her believable as a fourteen year old and not realize that a nineteen year old was playing the part. Macdonald brought a fresh-faced arrogance to the role and her blackmailing of Renton is entirely consistent with her wily personality and gift for manipulation.
We learn most about Mrs Renton when Renton's parents take him back into his family home to go through withdrawal.
The Rentons provide a surprisingly normal picture of Renton's upbringing and alternate between deep frustration and anger with him for descending into drug addiction and practical concern for his well being. They believe going through withdrawal at home is his best opportunity for a sober future.
Allison is friend and fellow addict to Rebton and his group and the mother of a young infant. Her daughter Dawn dies from neglect whilst the group are in a heroin-induced stupor and none of them have noticed. This incident is the strongest example of how heroin has taken over their lives and caused them to have no awareness of anything else.
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