'Trainspotting"s Robert Carlyle on the 'disgusting' characters he plays

TORONTO -- Robert Carlyle admits he has a knack for despicable roles.

Which might explain why he was hounded for years to play his latest violent onscreen kook -- a Glaswegian barber-turned-serial killer.

See Full Article

The affable Scot notes the Canadian script for "The Legend of Barney Thomson" circled him several times before he accepted the challenge, which included directing the grisly black comedy.

The pitches came from "different people, coming from different parts of the world," all convinced Carlyle was the man to play the downtrodden Barney, an accidental killer.

The "Trainspotting" star admits he can't seem to shake the psycho characters, and he suspects it's partly because of the way he approaches them.

"Barney, on the page, isn't technically a likable character," Carlyle says in a recent phone interview from Vancouver, where he shoots the ABC/CTV series "Once Upon A Time."

"He's a pain in the ass. He's abusive, he's ... just an idiot. So you need someone who could actually try and turn this somewhat dislikable character into someone who you care about."

Not unlike his approach to playing the loathsome, ultra-violent Begbie in "Trainspotting," he allows.

"Begbie is a disgusting character. But again, when I was taking that part on I was also aware of the fact that I had to try and make this guy in some way likable. I tried to inject Begbie with a heavy, heavy dose of comedy," says Carlyle, also known as a desperately unemployed steelworker in "The Full Monty," an alcoholic deadbeat dad in "Angela's Ashes," and a Bond villain in "The World Is Not Enough."

"A lot of people can look at Begbie and think, 'Oh, he's just terrifying.' Well, I don't know if he is. I don't know if Begbie even actually exists like that. I think he's more of, almost, a cartoon-type figure."

He was convinced to tackle "The Legend of Barney Thomson" by a rewrite from Glaswegian scribe Colin McLaren, who injected the missing element he craved -- "as the Irish would say, the crack," says Carlyle.

When it came to directing, he worked on an "old-fashioned" plan for his first feature behind the camera.

"It would be no moving cameras, no dollies, nothing whirring around. It's quite flat and quite a straight-telling of the story."

He enlisted seasoned pals Ray Winstone to play a browbeaten police inspector and Tom Courtney as the chief superintendent. And he turned to Emma Thompson to don some serious prosthetics and makeup to play Barney's foul-mouthed, bingo-loving mother.

Twenty years later, Carlyle says he looks forward to revisiting his most famous deranged lout for a "Trainspotting" sequel that begins shooting May 15 in Glasgow.

"Same as we did before, same team, everyone's back," he says, being careful to keep plot points secret.

"They're older. Everything they do is older. And I'm very aware of that, getting to the (age) of 55 next month. You get slower and all these guys are slower.... It's got something about it that I think will resonate with people 20 years later."

"The Legend of Barney Thomson" opens in Toronto and Vancouver this weekend before hitting other cities.



Advertisements

Latest Entertainment News

  • National Arts Centre Orchesta to tour as part of Canada 150 celebrations

    Entertainment CTV News
    The National Arts Centre Orchestra is hoping to entertain and educate during its cross-country tour commemorating Canada's 150th birthday. The first leg of the tour starts in Atlantic Canada, running from April 26 to May 7, before heading back onto the road this fall with stops in Central and Western Canada from Oct. Source
  • New couple Diane Kruger, Norman Reedus go public

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Diane Kruger has left no doubt about her relationship with The Walking Dead star Norman Reedus after they were photographed kissing in New York City. The Inglourious Basterds star has been friends with Norman since they portrayed lovers in 2015 movie Sky, and now it appears their chemistry onscreen has been reignited in real life. Source
  • Brie Larson to star as first female U.S. presidential candidate

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Actress Brie Larson has signed on to star as the first female U.S. presidential candidate in a new movie. The Oscar-winning Room star will also serve as a producer on Victoria Woodhull. Ben Kopit is writing the script for the film, but is unclear when it will start shooting or premiere. Source
  • The Magnetic North Theatre Festival cancels 2017 season

    Entertainment CBC News
    One of Canada's premier theatre festivals has cancelled its 2017 season due to financial constraints. The Magnetic North Theatre Festival — which showcases and promotes Canadian theatre nationally and abroad — was scheduled to take place this summer at various venues in the capital, including the National Arts Centre from June 16-24. Source
  • 'Tapping into the comedy of couples': How Chuck Barris made TV that was ahead of its time

    Entertainment CBC News
    First, he had The Dating Game. Then came The Newlywed Game. And he followed it all up with the madcap mayhem that was The Gong Show. Sure, many have written off the game shows as mindless and low-brow. Source
  • Alex Trebek, Odd Squad among Canada's Daytime Emmy contenders

    Entertainment CBC News
    Alex Trebek, Jeopardy's man with all the answers, and Canadian kids programs Odd Squad, Annedroids and Dino Dan: Trek Adventures are among the latest nominees for the Daytime Emmy Awards. The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences unveiled the contenders for the 44th annual daytime television honour on Wednesday. Source
  • TLC's 'No Scrubs' writers get added to Ed Sheeran hit 'Shape of You'

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- The songwriters behind TLC's 1999 megahit "No Scrubs" are now listed as co-writers of Ed Sheeran's No. 1 hit "Shape of You." On the website for performance rights organization ASCAP, Kandi Burruss, Tameka Cottle aka Tiny and Kevin Briggs have been added as co-writers of "Shape of You," co-written by Sheeran, Steve Mac and John McDaid. Source
  • Mishael Morgan creates classic 'Young and the Restless' vixen

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    SHAUN PROULX/ 24 HOURS Donald Trump is not to be spoken of in Genoa City. I’m on the phone with Mishael Morgan, the 31-year-old Toronto-raised actress who has played resident she-devil Hilary Curtis on The Young and The Restless since the femme fatale stormed into town with a suitcase full of vendetta in 2013. Source
  • Our picks for casting 'Feud: Charles and Diana'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    Emmy winner Ryan Murphy seems to have hit the nail on their well-coiffed heads with his brilliant casting of Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon as battling rivals Joan Crawford and Bette Davis in his juicy first instalment of FX’s Feud: Bette and Joan, which is currently airing on Sunday nights. Source
  • 'Wheel of Fortune' fail: No, the play is not called 'A Streetcar Naked Desire'

    Entertainment Toronto Sun
    In the pantheon of "Wheel of Fortune" fails, one contestant's missed answer Tuesday night was pretty epic. With two blank spaces remaining, a player named Kevin guessed "C," leaving him with the following puzzle: A S T R E E T C A R N A _ E D D E S I R E Source