Hardman actor Robert Carlyle has revealed he was rejected from the role of a Kwik Fit Fitter in the famous 1980s TV advert.
The Hollywood star said the rejection was his lowest moment as an actor at that time and caused him to consider quitting.
Speaking at an Edinburgh International Book Festival event at the capital’s Usher Hall, he said: “It’s such a tough business to go in to. I remember, there were loads of things I didn’t get – I went for auditions and got rejected.
“In the first couple of years of my career, I was up for the Kwik Fit Fitter advert.
“You know the wee dance? I had to stand there in a room and do the Quick Fit Fitter dance, and I didn’t fucking get it.
“How humiliating is that? It was my lowest point and it was in London as well. I had to come back in the bus to Glasgow thinking ‘I’m quitting, I’m never doing this again’.”
Carlyle was was in Edinburgh to discuss his most famous film character, Francis Begbie, with its creator, the writer Irvine Welsh in front of a sell-out audience.
The Trainspotting psychopath is the subject of Welsh’s most recent book, The Blade Artist, and also central to the forthcoming Trainspotting sequel due to start filming in the capital and in Glasgow in May.
Some 20 years after Begbie first appeared on screen, Carlyle insists he never saw himself in the role as he pictured a larger physical presence — a chunkier, barrel guy.
He said it was director Danny Boyle who persuaded him to consider the part, and to whom he is now indebted.
He said: “It was a curve ball for me. I didn’t know what I’d be offered , I thought maybe Sick Boy because he’s thin. It was Danny who said ‘what about Begbie?’
“I pictured a big huge monstrous kind of figure. I said ‘naw, forget it’, but it was Danny Boyle who said ‘small psychos are the best’.
“Thank you Danny, I’ve been a small psycho ever since.”
Carlyle said his performance was inspired by watching Robert De Niro’s most famous “mirror” scene as Travis Bickle in the 1976 film Taxi Driver.
Asked what he most loved about Begbie, Carlyle said: “It was the size of the character. You don’t often get a chance to play a character that big.
“You were taught at drama school that everything on camera had to be quite small.
“I remember seeing De Niro in Taxi Driver and doing the famous scene he does in the mirror – ‘You talking to me’ – and how big that was, it was almost theatrical.
“It is very rare to actually find a part to do that with because most of it is smaller. Begbie was the first time I was given the opportunity to let rip like that.
“He’s such a theatrical character – a theatrical performance – that’s what I still love about it to this very day.
“He’s become strangely iconic. It’s all very weird but I’ll take it and I’m eternally grateful to Danny and to Irvine for creating and writing this part.”
Carlyle also revealed he finds the “reformed” Begbie in The Blade Artist “even scarier” as the reformed character who hasn’t quite left his violent past behind.
He added: “I think he’s even scarier. The stillness – you don’t want to meet this guy.”
Welsh said he realised the character of Begbie was essentially “Scottish” when the Trainspotting stage show was put on in Kansas and they couldn’t find a similar American character-type.
He said: “They took the Trainspotting stage play to Kansas and the other characters were immediately translatable.
“But the violence was very difficult. American violence is all about the gun. It’s very difficult to find a Begbie because on these islands – and particularly in Scotland – it’s all that kind of up close and personal kind of thing.
“The kind of rage and anger is very much related to here.”
Welsh said he finds it easy to write about violence but breaks down at sentimental movie love scenes.
He said: “I can write violence and watch violence without getting emotionally involved. I find it very difficult to write emotional or love scenes.
“I start to bubble up. I can go to the pictures with my wife and sit and watch a violent film, and I’m just thinking ‘I wonder how they did that?’
“She’s got her hands over her head and she’s screaming ‘I can’t watch this, it’s horrible’.
“But anything that’s emotional, I get really buzzed by that. If there’s a love scene I start to bubble – any sentimental scene.
“Every year I watch White Christmas and I’ve got tears streaming down my face. I’m a sucker for that kind of stuff. It distresses me and I don’t have that degree of separation.
“Violence and sex I see as a mechanistic thing that has to work on the page.”
Asked what he believes has changed about Edinburgh since he wrote Trainspotting, he replied: “It’s like Begbie says in the book, ‘They still drink too much and they’ve still got bad teeth but they’re fatter’.”
The Blade Artist catches up with Welsh’s iconic Begbie, played by Carlyle in Boyle’s 1996 movie Trainspotting.
Nick Barley, Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, said “Francis Begbie is already a formidable character in Irvine Welsh’s novels.
“In the Trainspotting movie, Robert Carlyle elevates Begbie to an unforgettable screen icon: ultra-violent and alpha-male, while also quite complex with regard to friendships and sexuality.
“It’s a real treat that Irvine’s latest novel revisits this fascinating character.”