WFF 2015: Robert Carlyle talks about Trainspotting, James Bond, and Hitler

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      The original cast of Trainspotting is reuniting for the sequel to Danny Boyle's 1996 hit film, and that includes Scottish actor Robert Carlyle, or the violent sociopath Francis Begbie, as you may recall.

      When CTV's Jim Gordon chatted with Carlyle at a special tribute event at the 2015 Whistler Film Festival on December 5, Carlyle talked about the film that catapulted his career.

      The period when Trainspotting was released was "nuts", he put it rather succinctly.

      Carlyle said he was filming Carla's Song in an area in Nicaragua where there was no media contact. Accordingly, he was oblivious to massive buzz about Trainspotting that was going on.

      When flew back into Britain the night of the premiere, he was in for a shock.

      "I'm walking through Heathrow Airport and I suddenly see Ewan McGregor's face on these magazines," he said. "When I left they didn't even know who Ewan McGregor was at all. This is fucking weird—every single magazine….That very first night in Glasgow, that very first premiere in Glasgow, it was like getting smacked in the back of the head. I thought, 'Wow, everybody, not only did they know this film, they all now knew me,' which was weird for me for sure. "

      The offers started coming in after that, and he went on to star in the 1997 smash hit The Full Monty, about six unemployed steelworkers who form an unexpected male striptease act.

      But he also relished playing a Bond villain in 1999's The World Is Not Enough, calling it "an incredible thing"

      You see, Scottish star Sean Connery was Bond when he was growing up.

      "He was the only guy who sounded like me so he was a big deal for me," he said.

      He couldn't believe it when he found himself flying on a plane with Pierce Brosnan, who played Bond in The World Is Not Enough, and being served champagne.

      Not only was the high-life astounding to him but he describes Brosnan as "one of the loveliest men I've ever met, actor or not".

      Consequently, he has advice for any actors given the opportunity to work on the Bond franchise: "Grab it."

      In comparison, he said he finds it much more challenging to play characters based on non-fiction sources.

      His role in Angela's Ashes, based on the memoir of Frank McCourt, was the first time he played someone from real life: McCourt's father, Malachy.

      "To me, he was just a man...who couldn't face up to his responsibilities. He just couldn't do it. He just didn't have it in him. But he wasn't a bad man. He wasn't a nasty man. He just couldn't help it. And he was obviously addicted to the drink as well."

      He called the production a"wonderful, wonderful experience" even though he found it to be "a very hard film to make". He noted, for instance, that the first four weeks of shooting consisted of burying children, which he was a very "hard thing" to endure.

      While he also found it difficult to play the lead role in Hitler: The Rise of Evil TV miniseries, he said he found out intriguing and lesser-known facts about the Nazi leader, such as how he had wanted to go to art school but was rejected three times.

      Currently, Carlyle can be seen playing Rumplestiltskin on the Vancouver-shot TV series Once Upon a Time, in which fairy tale characters are transported to the real world.

      He said he was glad to be back filming in Vancouver on the exact same stage in Bridge Studios where he had filmed Stargate Universe for two years prior to the new series. (He laughed about how his trailer is in the exact same spot.)

      Carlyle also starred in and directed the very dark comedy The Legend of Barney Thomson, in which he stars as an anger-prone Glasgow barber with a dwindling career who becomes a serial killer, aided by his sociopathic mother (played by Emma Thompson). The film had its North American premiere at the festival with a Canadian theatrical release date to be announced. 

      With his TV series, his directorial debut, and the WFF 2015 Maverick Award given to him at the evening, Carlyle certainly doesn't have to worry about a dwindling career at all. In light of the Trainspotting sequel in the works, just the opposite, perhaps.

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