Kevin McKidd on Trainspotting 2 and comfort ZonesThe Red Bulletin met up with the Scottish-American actor at the TV Festival in Monte Carlo to talk about life after Trainspotting, breaking the daily routine and why directors have it harder than actors
THE RED BULLETIN: There is this legend about the famous movie poster for the Trainspotting. You are the only actor missing from it. Is it true that you were already on holiday when they shot it and that’s the reason why you are not on it?
KEVIN MCKIDD: Yes. I was away. I was off on holiday with my girlfriend at the time and I missed the shoot. I don’t think about it now. It doesn’t bother me. At the end of the day my character was in the film and being involved did huge things for my career. That was pretty much my first film after drama school. So it was a blessing to be in that film and to land that role. A lot of people auditioned for it. I don’t think the poster thing affected me. Thank god!
What’s your take on Trainspotting 2?
They are shooting it right now. I spoke to Danny Boyle recently because he needed my permission to use some of the footage. They are going to use flashbacks when they talk about my character. So Tommy MacKenzie, my character, is going to be in it again. The young version of me! So yes, I am excited to see it. It should be fun. I am trying to get to Scotland to hang out with everybody, but I am not sure if I can make it. But I hope I can.
What’s the best thing about being an actor?
One of the most fun aspects about being an actor is that you get to learn skills that you normally wouldn’t learn. You learn to do surgery, you learn to ice skate, or you learn martial arts. I did a martial arts movie and I had to learn how to do martial arts. All those new skills that you get to learn and walk in other people’s shoes. I played a millionaire once, somebody who makes hats, so I kind of know how to make hats.
Are there any downsides to your job?
Not really. Since becoming a director, I now realise how lucky actors are. The directors are the ones who really have to work hard. They have much more responsibility and much more stress. When you are an actor, you come, you do your lines and they say: ”Okay, go back to your trailer. We will call you when we are ready.” The director has to be there every single minute, making sure that everything is as it should be.
Perhaps the only downside is the uncertainty life as an actor brings with it. I have been very fortunate to be on a show where there is no uncertainty (Kevin plays Dr. Owen Hunt in the tv series Grey’s Anatomy). It is going to be around for a long time and it is a huge blessing, because most of an actor’s life can be very precarious.
Would it bring you out of your comfort zone if you had to do real surgery?
(Laughs.) Oh yes! I would never want to do surgery. I would be terrified - way too much responsibility. It would scare the life out of me. I have such respect for surgeons. Surgeons have to make such critical decisions that are really serious all the time. I can’t imagine having that much responsibility every single day.
You’ve been around for a while. You have seen many places, met many interesting people through your job. What’s the most important lesson you have learned in life so far?
To be brave and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Try things that are quite scary in life and understand that you are going to be fine. People – myself included – want to stay comfortable. We want to keep things in a realm where there is no risk. And I think that is really the only place in life where something significant happens, or something changes to become something new. So yes, I feel like I am more and more confident in taking risks.
Is it easy for you to leave your comfort zone?
I have always pushed myself. I guess it is part of my nature. When you feel that inner voice telling you that you are getting a little bored or something is becoming repetitive, then you should listen to it. Just listen to that instinct and take a step back and take a moment to really let your inner voice speak to you.
You like to sing. What your karaoke song?
(Laughs.) I don’t know, probably something Scottish. Like a Simple Minds song. I was a big Simple Minds fan.
Do you know the band in person?
I am friends with guitarist Charlie Burchill. So maybe “Don’t You Forget About Me”. That’s the song I would go for karaoke-wise.
Last topic: Guilty pleasures …
I love to surf, but that is not really a guilty pleasure is it? I like beer!
Do you have a favourite beer?
There is actually a beer in California, a craft beer called Pliny The Elder, which is a brilliant beer. You have to drive to Northern California to buy a crate of it. You actually have to drive up there. That would be my guilty pleasure.