Despite the fact that his excrement-flinging moment of glory in director Danny Boyle's flamboyant adaptation of the Irvine Welsh novel Trainspotting would forever leave an impression on adventurous filmgoers, and regardless of subsequent appearances alongside such Hollywood heavies as Ben Affleck in high-profile Hollywood releases like Pearl Harbor, actor Ewen Bremner has yet to achieve the level of success of Trainspotting cohorts Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle. An Edinburgh native whose art teacher parents actively supported his creative pursuits, Bremner first received widespread exposure when, at age 17, the theater workshop play in which he appeared transferred from Scotland to London's Royal Court. Subsequently making his feature debut with the U.K. television drama Heavenly Pursuits (1985), Bremner would take on supporting roles in Prince of Jutland (1994) and Judge Dredd (1995) before being catapulted into the international limelight as the hapless "Spud" in Trainspotting. Despite having essayed the lead as Renton in the popular stage adaptation of Trainspotting, Bremner no doubt made quite an impression with audiences in the key supporting role, his alternately pathetic and sympathetic put-upon character offering some of the film's finest comic moments. The following year, Bremner attempted to bypass the hype by taking some time off and pondering his future as an actor. Though such subsequent films as The Life of Stuff (1997) and The Acid House (1998, again adapted from the works of Welsh) contained Trainspotting's edgy humor, their attempts to be "hip" were notably strained, and neither film fared well at the box office. Bremner's role as the titular character in eccentric wonder-boy director Harmony Korine's Julien Donkey-Boy found him again overlooked when the film failed to click with critics and audiences, but the undaunted Bremner would soon crack up audiences with his supporting role as "Mullet" in Guy Ritchie's stylized follow-up to Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Snatch (2000). With his role in director Michael Bay's high-profile 2001 war film Pearl Harbor, the talented actor proved his versatility once and for all by essaying the role of a wholeheartedly patriotic American soldier fighting in WWII. When Bremner stepped back into fatigues the very next year for a supporting role in Ridley Scott's Black Hawk Down, it appeared as if he might finally be achieving the success that had previously eluded him. The next year, he appeared as none other than legendary surrealist Salvador Dali in the U.K. television drama Surrealissimo: The Trial of Salvador Dali, and in the following few years, he would balance such high-profile Hollywood releases as The Rundown (2003) and Around the World in 80 Days (also 2003) with such foreign gems as the Swedish film Sweet Dreams. He was in 2004's Alien vs. Predator, and the next year played an Inspector in Woody Allen's Match Point. He was part of the ensemble in the original version of Death at a Funeral, and reteamed with Allen for 2010's You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger. In 2011 he appeared alongside Ewan McGreggor in the drama Perfect Sense, and also appeared in the spy drama Page Eight.
Biography by Jason Buchanan
- Played Renton in the stage version of Trainspotting in 1995; his breakthrough role was Spud in Danny Boyle's film adaptation a year later.
- Worked six weeks in a Manhattan psychiatric hospital before taking on the part of a schizophrenic in Harmony Korine's Julien Donkey-Boy (1999).
- Met Marcia Rose, the mother of his daughter, Harmony (who is named for Julien's director), on the set of the short film Skin.
- Has appeared in a mix of low-budget indies such as Julien and The Zero Sum (2005) and big-budget actioners like Pearl Harbor and Black Hawk Down (both 2001).