JONNY LEE MILLER
After walking the smack-filled streets of Leith as Trainspotting's Sick Boy, JONNY LEE MILLER returns to Scotland for Regeneration.
Words: Alan Morrison
l.lKli BIRDS l.\' Wl.\"l‘liR. it‘s no suprise to watch Scotland's young actors head sottth when they’y'e hit a certain level ol‘ success.
Surrey-lmrn Jonny Lee Miller. on the other
hand. can’t seem to keep away from the place. ‘I keep haying all these connections to Scotland] he muses. 'What's it telling me‘." Well. for one thing. it's saying he has hit worldwide celebrity stattis as the cool. peroxide-topped Sick Boy in 'I'ruinspotling. But ey en bel’ore that. he‘d played a Scot in the 'l‘\' lilm .llmi and was familiar enough with Sick Boy's stomping ground alter l'our trips to
the lidinburgh l‘estiyal with the National Youth .\lusic 'l‘heatre. Now he is back again. although this time the setting is (‘raiglockhart Hospital during World War I l‘or (iillies Maekinnon’s Version of the Part Barker noy'el chwu'mtiun.
‘l.ots ol' people still think I am Scottish. which is l'ine.’ smiles .\liller not that he
12 THE lIST ‘9 Se; '99/ 8 ,.:
thinks he is being typecast. ‘I always look really different anyway. I can be in the middle ol’ loads of people and no one knows who I am. 01' I can be in a drive-through .\lcl)onalds in l.os Angeles. when it’s getting dark and I'm wearing glasses. and a Mexican guy will recognise tne. It‘s really nice though. because people love the film. .\'o one comes up and goes. "that was really shit".'
'l'rui'nspotting's success started the ball rolling for Miller. whose only other high- prol'ile role was in teen computer l‘lick Hackers alongside his wife. American actress
Angelina Jolie. He has since starred opposite .\'iek .\'o|te and Julie (‘hristie in Alan Rudolph‘s Afterglow and is reunited with 'li'uins/miiing mate Robert (‘arlyle as they play a pair of highwaymen
in l’ltmket! And Ale/run. ‘We‘re like Burr/1 ('ussii/uy And The SHIN/(HUT Kid in lh’th century l.ondon.' explains the grandson of Bernard Lee. the original .\1 in the Bond moyies. ‘lt‘s a farce: l’lunkett ((‘arlylel is a really good highwayman and .\Icl.ean is an idiot. a drunken psychopath who becomes a highwayman. We run around robbing people.‘
Rt’gt’llt'l'tlIirHI is a much more sombre piece
ol‘ work. Miller plays Billy Prior. a young linglish ol‘l'iccr from a working-class background whose horrit‘ic c\pericnce ot' the trenches has left him deeply traumatised. Prior is driy en by a mi\ ol' anger. bitterness and ll'llSll‘illlUll. giying Miller the pcrl‘ect material for a career-best perl'ormance. The early part of the ﬁlm. in which Prior's war neurosis renders him mute. proyided a particular challenge.
‘lt was weird because it‘s more than just losing your \oicc.‘ .\lillcr e\p|ains. ‘In the book. it’s tleset‘ihetl llS being like a “numbness” to him. It‘s not like anything's jammed. it's just not responding to signals. What soldiers haye a hard time understanding — and the reason why they go nuts is that all neurosis is a build-up or small eyents. 'l’heir mate would be standing nc\t to them and suddenly his head‘s gone and they l'rcak out. But they think. “Hang on. that happened all last week and it ney'cr bothered me. Why lriyc l lost it now".’".‘
Making the ﬁlm also opened \liller's eyes to some of the true horrors ol‘ war. 'I don't think I was ignorant to that bel‘ore we startcdf he points out. ‘But Armistice Day l'ell during the shoot. It was my l'irst day in the trenches. and we had three minutes‘ silence. It was. really weird we were dressed up like soldiers. standing in the liclds . . . and l l‘elt really small. It hits home like a hammer. You feel really guilty. because you‘re going home at the end of the day to a nice warm hotel and there's no one trying to kill you. You tend to locus on war and bullets and shells and stuff like that. but the weather can be inst as deadly.’
[regeneration marks an important step l‘orward for Miller. taking him l‘rom teen star to dramatic actor. .-\nd. at the age of 23. the doors haye only begun to swing open.
Regeneration opens at the Cameo, Edinburgh on Fri 2 Jan and Glasgow Film Theatre on Fri 9 Jan.