Trainspotting fans rejoice! We may see Porno after all.
Jonny Lee Miller first came to fame in Danny Boyle's classic film, Trainspotting. Since then, Jonny's had a pretty interesting career, including a brief marriage to Angelina Jolie. He stars here as Scottish cyclist Graeme Obree, a severely depressed man who shattered the world speed records on a bike. So much so that his riding position was actually banned from competition. I've interviewed my fair share of Englishmen, but Jonny was one of the few who sounded authentic. It was like we were talking to him in a café instead of a press junket. "Porno", the novel sequel to Trainspotting is still on the radar. Jonny comments that Danny Boyle is waiting for the actors to age before shooting the sequel.
Had you done much bicycling before this film? And how much did you actually train?
Jonny Lee Miller: I use a bike to get 'round London, but other than that, I wasn't really a cyclist. I did get really into it and now I cycle regularly. I spent a couple of months just riding on the street, doing my own training. But I had to travel to another city to ride with a coach in the national velodrome. That was logistically difficult, so I only went a few times.
What was it like riding the older model bikes that Graeme that used?
Jonny Lee Miller: We had two replicas of the 'old faithful' bike that Graeme broke the record on. He built us two new ones, which were pretty much the same. It's a really hard bike to ride, especially when you're trying to emulate his riding position; which is a ridiculous way to go 'round a track. He has this real ability to fold himself up, which is really difficult to do.
Was that the 'Superman' position?
Jonny Lee Miller: No, the Superman position was the second position he invented. They banned the first one. He's got his elbows tucked in, bent over flat, and leaning ahead over the bike. It's a great aerodynamic position, but that was banned; so he had to come with the Superman one. It's where he's got his arms straight out in front.
Did you ever meet with Graeme?
Jonny Lee Miller: Yes, me and Laura Fraser (Anne Obree), we sat down with Graeme and Anne. We had frank discussions. They were very helpful because we could ask them anything. Then Graeme was 'round for most of the filming, especially when we were doing the track stuff. He became another member of the prop department, fixing the bikes and stuff. He also doubled for me.
Did he like the film?
Jonny Lee Miller: Yes, he had one concern about upsetting Chris Boardman (sp?). He's such a lovely guy. He wasn't bothered 'bout anything with himself, but didn't want to upset Chris.
How's his mental state today?
Jonny Lee Miller: He's in very good shape, as far as I know.
Was it painful for him to see his depression reenacted?
Jonny Lee Miller: Well, those were the days he wasn't around. That was for his benefit and mine. It's great to have someone around to pick up a few mannerisms, but when it comes to that stuff; it's too weird. He totally understood how I felt and the process. He was very understanding 'bout that.
How do you prepare to play a depressed character?
Jonny Lee Miller: Most people know someone whose had to deal with depression. I didn't really read about depression, but I did read his autobiography; which is not ghost written. It's pretty frank. I found a lot of information in there.
Where the judges that biased against the Scottish?
Jonny Lee Miller: I don't know. I think it was just personally against him. I just think they had issues with his riding position and the fact that he just threw his bike together. I can't really comment on why they did what they did.
How did you get involved with this film?
Jonny Lee Miller: The producers came to me, quite a while ago actually.
What attracted you to this role?
Jonny Lee Miller: As an actor, it's a great part. It's got all these different things. Then the story is an incredible story, one which most people aren't aware of. I thought it was a great story to tell.
Where does this film fit in the pantheon of sports films?
Jonny Lee Miller: I don't really burden myself with that. I just thought this is Graeme Obree's story and it's worth telling. It was also a great chance for me. I thought it had a different take, I personally haven't seen this story before. So that's enough for me, you just go and do the best you can.
There was something mentioned that you came pretty close to breaking a record as well. Is that true?
Jonny Lee Miller: I don't know about that. I heard that rumor myself. I think it had something to do with the track lapping, nothing to do with any real record. That would be just impossible. I can hammer it 'round the track pretty quick, but for that long is a whole 'nother planet.
You shot to fame in Trainspotting, which has pretty much become a classic film. Has there been any discussion with Danny Boyle (the director) about doing the sequel, "Porno"?
Jonny Lee Miller: (laughs) I just want to point out that's the name of the book. It sounded like you said me and Danny were doing a porno (laughs). I know that they've thought about writing that script. But a couple years ago Danny was saying he wanted us to be older. Because the characters are all a lot older and a lot has gone on. So he wants us to be physically five years older. I can't speak for the others, but I'd be interested in doing it if they had a good script.
Dont't forget to also check out: The Flying Scotsman