Irvine Welsh & Director Rob Heydon Talk About Bringing The Adaptation To Life
When Danny Boyle delivered the groundbreaking “Trainspotting” it proved that the unique language, tenor and prose of Scottish writer Irvine Welsh could be brought to the big screen with both style and substance. An adaptation of “The Acid House” soon followed and “Filth” is gearing up to shoot next year, and the next Welsh story to hit the big screen will be “Ecstasy.” But it was no easy journey.
The project has been in development for more than a decade, with financing coming and going before it was finally locked into place, with Kristin Kreuk, Billy Boyd, Adam Sinclair, Colin Mochrie and Dean McDermott coming on board to star. “Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy” follows Heather (Kreuk) and Lloyd (Sinclair) as they explore a chemical romance and discover whether their love for one another is real or not. Surrounding the story is a thriller that dives into the politics and lifestyles of the clubbers and gangsters, along with the good and the evil that comes with their world. The Playlist is premiering the brand new trailer for the film which you can see below, and we recently caught up with director Rob Heydon and author Irvine Welsh to talk about the project.
Welsh fans are probably already aware that “Ecstasy” was previously adapted into a stage play by Canadian playwright Keith Wyatt. While the initial plan was to use that work as a the foundation for the film, Heydon reveals they soon went back to the source. “So we want back to the book and went through fifty drafts of the script at least to really figure out what works [and] what doesn’t work,” the director said. “And then we had to mine the book for the subtext. And the book is boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-gets-girl-back all in the last five pages. And other than that, it’s [alternating] chapters of their lives and how they’re destined to meet one day, so that doesn’t really work for a film. So we had to change the structure quite a bit and add the gangster element.”
“We gave [Lloyd’s character arc] a bit more of a through line and a motivation for why this character wants to change his life,” Heydon explained about the changes from the page to screen. “That [club/drug] lifestyle is not sustainable in the long term. Heather brings a motivation to change, but also confronts him about why he’s still doing this in his mid-30s. Why he’s still partying like [he’s] 16.”
But at the end of the day, the story is less about drugs and more about the broader picture of their effect on relationships and even the perception of life. “It’s a transformational love story going from the love of ecstasy of the drug to the ecstasy of love,” Heydon says. “A lot of people think it’s ‘Oh, it’s Irvine Welsh, it’s going to be about drugs’ and that’s it, and sort of write it off at face value. It’s really about different states of modality and what is ecstasy and how do we get there and how do we live in a state of ecstasy every day.”
As for Welsh, he didn’t mind having his work being tinkered with, as he believes he didn’t get “Ecstasy” quite the he way he wanted on the page. “[It] kind of turned out to be formally kind of a straighter book than i wanted it to be — it’s much more of a straight-down-the-line-story — and I wanted it to be a bit more trippy than that,” the author explained. “That was my disappointment in the book, it wasn’t realized quite the way I wanted it to….To me it was very much realized as a stage play…to me it worked better on the stage than on the page…so I was excited about what would happen if it was given the cinematic treatment.”
With Heydon’s background in music videos and knowledge of the club world, Welsh had no reservations that he was the man for the job. “I was excited when Rob came on and wanted to do it because he was kind of steeped in that culture,” he said adding, “If that sensibility could be married to the kind of storytelling that was in the book, it would kind of work in the way that I would wanted the [book] to work.”
But still, it must be a little odd to hand your baby to someone else and Welsh gives an interesting description of what it was like to have his work developed into something brand new. “It’s brilliant, it’s just great. It’s kind of weird…it’s almost like you kind of discover you had this child in your teens that you didn’t know about and they come back and visit you, ” he said. “And you know they have something to do with you, but they totally had their own life experience and were growing in their own direction, you’ve had no influence or control over that…It’s uplifting but a slightly kind of scary and disconcerting experience as well.”
But for diehard admirers of the book, Heydon assures that not everything has been touched. “We kept all the best gems from the book. There is some amazing characters and dialogue and scenes in the book that we didn’t want to change at all because Irvine has such a distinct voice,” he says.
Of course, no Welsh film is complete with out a great soundtrack and “Ecstasy” will have tunes from Coldplay, Primal Scream, Tiesto, Deadmau5, Bonjay, The Mahones, Hawksley Workman and more to keep things moving. No word just yet on a release date, but a get a taste of what’s to come with the trailer below.