Renton role for Carluke boy Ben in T2 Trainspotting

Ben Skelton with his brother Zak  (Picture Sarah Peters)
Ben Skelton with his brother Zak (Picture Sarah Peters)

Ben Skelton wasn’t even born when the hit film Trainspotting came out in 1996, but the 11-year-old has a starring role in its sequel.

Although T2 Trainspotting has now been released to rave reviews, it will be another seven years until the High Mill Primary pupil, of Allan Avenue in Carluke, will be able to see his own performance as the younger version of Ewan McGregor’s character, Mark Renton.

“He went to the premiere in Edinburgh two weeks ago with his mum, but he wasn’t allowed to stay to watch the actual movie as it carries an 18 certificate,” explained proud dad Paul.

In fact, the only member of the Skelton family to see Ben’s screen debut so far is his equally chuffed mum Lisa.

Paul being an offshore North Sea oil worker, he will have to wait for his next shore leave to watch Ben play Renton as a child being brought up in the troubled, drug-infested Edinburgh housing schemes of the 1980s.

Far from being the traditional pushy stage parents, Paul and Lisa, let alone Ben himself, never had any thought of him having a film career, and his casting in T2 Trainspotting came about almost by accident.

Explained Paul: “I was a member of the Holytown Wado Kai karate centre since I was six and started taking Ben along. Its leader, Charlie Lindsay, taught me and is now teaching Ben too.

“A former member of the group is now a casting agent, and she was looking for someone to play the boy Renton, and I understand that it was Charlie who suggested that there might be the kid she was looking for among his current students.

“She came along, and Ben was asked to an initial audition and then went to a full-blown one, with the film’s director Danny Boyle present.

“They ended up selecting Ben, although I thought they might go for one of the younger kids.”

He said that Ben, accompanied by his mum, spent three days on set on locations in Bathgate and Edinburgh filming his scenes and, although his is a non-speaking part, they form a significant part of the £14.5m movie, also starring Robert Carlyle, as Renton looks back on his life through flashbacks.

Lisa said: “They shaved Ben’s head so he looked more like a younger Renton, and, I must admit, he does look a bit like a young Ewan McGregor like that.”

The Skeltons have another son, Zak, but the five-year-old is anything but jealous of his big brother’s sudden stardom.

“Not at all,” says Paul. “In fact, Ben has been jokingly calling him his security since the filming, so he doesn’t feel left out of it all.”