Blow for Edinburgh Film Festival as Trainspotting star Robert Carlyle quits due to illness

Robert Carlyle and Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting from 1995.
Robert Carlyle and Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting from 1995.
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ACTOR Robert Carlyle has been forced to pull out of the Edinburgh International Film Festival because of illness.

The Scots star, who appeared in Trainspotting and The Full Monty, had been due to appear at an “In Person” event this weekend.

The chance to hear Carlyle talk about his acting career was seen as one of the main draws of this year’s programme.

But a film festival spokeswoman said: “We can confirm Robert Carlyle is ill and is unable to attend.”

It was not revealed what illness he is suffering from.

Meanwhile. hundreds of tickets for tonight’s gala opening of the festival remained unsold hours before the UK premiere of Killer Joe at the 1900-seat Festival Theatre.

A spokeswoman for the festival said: “There are still tickets available for tonight, but that might be to do with the size of the venue.”

One of the film’s stars, Gina Gershon, and its director, William Friedkin, are expected at the gala opening along with other big-name figures like Jim Broadbent and Elliott Gould, who have agreed to chair prize juries this year.

Friedkin has described the film – which revolves around a young drug dealer persuaded to murder his mother for insurance money – as “about the good and evil in everyone, the struggle for our better angels to triumph over our demons”.

Among the other guests due to appear tonight are Scottish actors Ewen Bremner, Gary Lewis and Kate Dickie, as well as broadcaster Edith Bowman, who is also one of this year’s jury members.

A lavish after-show party is scheduled for the National Museum of Scotland.

Tonight’s gala, which starts at 5pm, is seen as crucial for the festival as it attempts to get back on track following its badly received “rethink” of the long-running showcase last year. Critics complained about the lack of awards, star names and red carpet glamour. Ticket sales plummeted from 44,500 to 34,500.

But when Tokyo-based author and film critic Chris Fujiwara was appointed as the film festival’s new artistic director earlier this year, he said he was determined to make the festival a showcase to attract the best and the brightest in the movie industry and promised to bring back the premieres, awards and the red carpet.

Critics have praised this year’s programme, particularly for the strength of its international films.

Some 121 new feature films are included, around double last year’s total, while 76 UK premieres are in the line-up.

Among the expected highlights are the new IRA thriller Shadow Dancer by Man on Wire director James Marsh and new horror Lovely Molly, by Blair Witch Project’s co-director Eduardo Sanchez.

All tickets for the closing gala - the European premiere of Disney-Pixar animated film Brave - have been snapped up.

And a host of big-name stars are expected to attend, including stars Kelly MacDonald, Kevin McKidd and Robbie Coltrane.