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Well, this is a good f-cking laugh, ain't it? You sweat that shite out of your system. 'Cause if I come back and it's still here... I'll f-cking kick it out. Okay?
~ Begbie in Renton's hallucination.

Francis "Franco" Begbie is the main antagonist of the Trainspotting franchise.

He appears as the main antagonist Irvine Welsh's 1993 novel Trainspotting, along with its 1996 movie adaptation, the 2000 novel Porno and its loose 2017 film adaptation T2 Trainspotting as well as its prequel novel Skagboys. He is also the titular protagonist villain of the 2016 novel The Blade Artist.

Ostensibly a friend of the main characters, he barely tolerates them and all of them fear him in return; unlike most of the group, he isn't addicted to heroin - indeed, he actively looks down on them for their chemical dependence, despite being a habitual smoker and an alcoholic. However, Begbie's real addiction is to violence, and he will gladly take any opportunity to indulge it, from picking fights at the pub to mugging unsuspecting tourists.

Brutal, pugnacious and temperamental, Begbie can easily be considered mentally unstable - one accepted by the rest of the group solely for his ability to supply them with cash.

He was portrayed by Robert Carlyle, who is known for portraying Rumpelstiltskin in Once Upon a Time, Renard in The World is Not EnoughAdolf Hitler in Hitler: The Rise of Evil, and Durza in Eragon.

Biography

Trainspotting

Introduced alongside his friends, Mark Renton, Daniel "Spud" Murphy, Simon "Sick Boy" Williamson, and Tommy McKenzie, Francis Begbie is one of the only two members of the group not regularly indulging in drugs - the other being Tommy. However, where Tommy is the upstanding straight man of the group, Begbie is easily the most morally reprehensible of the group next to Sick Boy. 

In his first major scene at the local pub, Begbie brags at length about beating Tommy at a game of pool and frightening off a "hard cunt" who challenged him to a fight. Tommy later reveals that Begbie was almost too hungover to hold his cue at the time and only won (barely) because Tommy was humouring him in a desperate attempt to avoid a beating. Likewise, the challenger was really just a man eating a packet of crisps at the bar, Begbie ultimately beating the unfortunate man to within an inch of his life for eating too loudly. Back in the present, Begbie finishes his drink and tosses his pint glass over the balcony and into the crowd below, badly wounding a female bar patron; far from owning up, he uses this as an excuse to start a massive brawl.

Begbie spends much of the following scenes tagging along with the rest of the group, either picking up girls at the club, or helping the rest of the gang mug tourists for drug money. When Renton and Spud get caught shoplifting, Begbie is one of the party guests for the celebration of Renton's acquittal. Unfortunately, Spud ends up going to prison for the next six months, and when Spud's mother arrives at the pub in a state of chronic depression, Begbie goes out of his way to insult her in front of the other party guests, freely displaying his lack of empathy for anyone bar himself. Though Begbie drifts away from the group soon after, his menacing anti-drug stance weighs heavily on Renton's mind: while being forced to go "cold turkey" by his parents, Begbie features in one of his withdrawal-induced hallucinations, threatening to beat the heroin out of him if he's still on drugs by his next visit.

Several months later, Begbie is wanted by the police for robbing a jeweller's shop at gunpoint. As he later bemoans at length, he was armed with a replica and only ended up stealing worthless costume jewellery by mistake. Now a wanted man, Begbie flees Edinburgh for London and tracks down Renton who is now working as a real estate agent and trying to start a new life free from drugs: forcing his way into his "friend's" bedsit and making himself at home, the fugitive soon makes himself at home as Renton's new unofficial roommate.

Unable to leave the flat for fear of being caught by the police, Begbie spends most of his time lounging in front of the television and littering the room with empty cigarette packets while continuously sending Renton out to buy more cigarettes. One day, he also has Renton place a bet on a horse race - and quite unexpectedly wins big. For once in a good mood, the two friends go out to nightclub, only for Begbie to accidentally end up seducing a transvestite, and Renton's good-natured joking only brings Franco's bad temper further into the spotlight, to the point that he actually threatens to castrate Renton if he even hints that Begbie might be gay.

Sometime afterwards, Sick Boy joins the pair in London and moves in with Renton and Begbie. Unfortunately, Sick Boy is currently trying to reinvent himself as a pimp and drug dealer, and quickly becomes an even bigger problem than Begbie, particularly after he pawns a rented television set and attempts to steal Renton's passport for good measure. Unable to deal with Begbie's violent temper-tantrums and Sick Boy's endless get-rich-quick schemes, Renton finally sets the two of them up with a new flat altogether: a supposedly impossible-to-sell property being leased by Renton's boss, it's believed to be perfectly secure. However, when the estate agency finally finds potential buyers - and brings them to inspect the property while the two squatters are still in the flat - Begbie ends up viciously assaulting them.

This incident ultimately forces Begbie, Renton and Sick Boy to return home to Edinburgh, both to avoid further police attention over the assault and to attend the funeral of Tommy (who had died of toxoplasmosis some time after being introduced to heroin). After being reunited with the recently-released Spud, Begbie and Sick Boy reveal a new plan to make money, and though Renton balks at the idea of returning to the lifestyle so soon after Tommy's death, Begbie makes it abundantly clear that his participation is mandatory.

One of Sick Boy's drug-dealer friends has accidentally acquired two kilos of high-quality heroin following a drunken night out with a pair of Russian sailors, and now wants it off his hands at a low price of £4,000; in turn, Sick Boy has made contact with a major drug dealer in London prepared to pay top dollar for the product. Unfortunately, Begbie is able to confirm that Renton is the only one of them with the money to buy the two kilos, press-ganging him into blowing almost all his savings on the deal. For good measure, he also forces Renton to test the purity of the heroin by shooting up.

Following a tense journey to London in which Begbie spends most of his time worrying about getting caught by the police and screaming at Sick Boy for not remembering to bring a pack of cards for the coach trip, they finally meet up with the drug dealer and are able to sell the heroin for £16,000. Briefly united by mutual joy and relief, the four of them celebrate at a pub in London and discuss their plans to split the the money between the four of them; however, Renton grows increasingly uncomfortable as he realizes that Sick Boy and Begbie are casually entertaining the idea of stealing the money for themselves.

Then, while Begbie is bringing back a round of drinks from the bar, another patron accidentally bumps into him, spilling beer down Begbie's shirt. Enraged, he attacks the man in a temper-tantrum, bashing his face against the bar and kicking him viciously in the head; Spud tries to intervene, but ends up getting his hand sliced open when Begbie draws a knife. Then, with Sick Boy insisting on leaving before the police arrive, Spud begging to go to a hospital, and an entire room full of witnesses looking on, Begbie refuses to leave until Renton brings him "a fuckin' cigarette."

The following morning, Renton comes to the conclusion that he can no longer tolerate his so-called friends or the lifestyle they have forced him back into. So, while the others are still asleep, he steals the £16,000 from Begbie and flees the hotel; however, he acknowledges that Spud never did anything wrong, and leaves £2,000 for him in a locker. Upon waking up to find the money gone, Begbie trashes the hotel room in a rage while Spud and Sick Boy hastily flee the scene; unfortunately for him, this eventually results in the police being called to investigate, presumably resulting in his arrest.

Francis Begbie is last seen in the ruins of the hotel room, reaching for his knives and preparing to fight. Though he is likely only arrested for vandalism, sustained police attention likely results in the outstanding arrest warrant for armed robbery being discovered (and possibly his most recent assault cases as well), ensuring that Begbie will be serving a lengthy jail sentence.

T2 Trainspotting

20 years later, Francis Begbie is still in prison, serving a 25-year prison sentence for his multitude of crimes. Given his long record of unpleasant behavior, his latest appeal for early release unsurprisingly falls on deaf ears, resulting in another temper-tantrum in which he openly assaults his lawyer.

Before long, he hits upon a scheme to escape from prison, and begins planning. In a surprisingly clever move, he studies medical textbooks for injuries severe enough to be hospitalized without risking death, then has his cellmate stab him in the chest with a knitting needle; though his "attacker" gets carried away and injures Begbie a little more seriously than intended, Franco is successfully transferred to a civilian hospital for treatment. As soon as he's recovered, he tricks his police guard into leaving him unaccompanied and uncuffed, giving him the opportunity to escape. On his way out, he chances upon a doctor, who he promptly knocks out and switches clothes with, allowing him to escape without raising the alarm.

Free at last, Begbie reunites with his family and tries to recruit his son as his partner-in-crime. However, "Franco Junior" is content to study Hotel Management at college instead, and even after being press-ganged into a burglary, shows no aptitude for a life of crime, much to Begbie's disappointment. Furthermore, his attempts to sexually reconnect with his wife end up failing thanks to erectile dysfunction on Begbie's part, only fueling his bad mood even further. Eventually, he becomes so frustrated that he moves out of the house entirely and into a warehouse owned by one of his criminal associates.

Eventually, he tracks down Sick Boy (now known by his real name, Simon), finding him running an inherited pub he hopes to transform into a sauna/brothel for his girlfriend, Veronika. After a little preamble, he reveals that Renton has been discovered: however, though Renton has already reconnected with him in person and is actually living in Simon's flat, the former con-artist lies to Begbie, claiming that Renton was seen in Amsterdam. Simon is now planning a long-running revenge scheme against his former friend, and presumably hoping to use Begbie against him when the time comes.

With nothing else to do with his time other than watch TV and drink heavily, Franco soon becomes obsessed with hunting Renton down and taking revenge. Eventually driven from his safehouse by sheer boredom, he takes a large dose of viagra and makes his way to a club for a night out; by sheer bad luck, this happens to be the same nightclub where Simon and Renton are enjoying themselves, and after the viagra fails to kick in on time, Begbie storms off to the restroom for another dose - where ends up taking the stall right next to Renton. When Begbie accidentally drops the pill packet on the floor, Renton passes it back to him after some good-natured joshing on his part and some less-than-good-natured threats on his neighbor's part... and in the pause that follows, the two belatedly recognize each other.

Renton has barely enough time to open the door and flee for his life before Begbie chases after him: leaving the club at speed, he leads his former friend on a frantic chase across Edinburgh, eventually ending up at a multi-story carpark. After an attempt at hiding among the cars fails due to an inappropriately-timed call from Simon, Renton manages to escape by leaping onto the roof of a departing car, though Begbie manages to slash his arm open on the way out of the carpark. Already exhausted from the chase, Begbie's pursuit is further delayed when, in an amusing twist, the viagra finally kicks in.

No longer trusting Simon and running low on options for finding Renton again, Begbie decides to pay a visit to Spud; by this time, Spud has been employed as a contractor in the efforts to transform the pub into a brothel, and is now doing his best to remain heroin-free by channeling his energies into writing down the stories of his time as an addict. Consequently, Begbie arrives to find the flat wall covered in notes, and his initial plan of demanding information from Spud is put on hold as he investigates them; initially mocking Spud for his new hobby, believing that nobody will ever read or care, he becomes increasingly concerned when the he realizes that he might have made an appearance in one of the stories.

He then challenges the terrified Spud to read one of his stories; he obediently reads through, almost overwhelmed with horror when he ends up narrating an incident in which Begbie pissed himself. Far from being angry, however, Begbie is genuinely amused and encourages Spud to read on, growing increasingly enamored with his writing as he relives the glory days of his youth. However, the meeting turns sour when the topic of the drug deal comes up and Begbie learns that Renton left money for him. Fortunately, he is distracted when Veronika arrives at the flat; unfortunately, he takes this as an opportunity to steal her phone, sending texts to both Renton and Simon asking them to meet up at Simon's pub at midnight.

However, as Spud and Veronika flee in terror, Begbie decides to read one more of the stories left behind: it discusses an incident in which the Renton, Begbie and Spud were loitering around a condemned train station, only to bump into an old wino who mocks them for "trainspotting"; for once, Begbie was unable to retaliate in any way, seeming sad and uncomfortable throughout the confrontation. The story ends with Spud realizing the drunkard was actually Begbie's father. Shaken by the memory, Begbie returns home one last time to tell his family that they will not see him again for a long while and wishes his son luck in life, expressing the belief that he will be a greater man than either his father or his grandfather, and then departs.

Although Spud tries to warn the two of them in advance, Begbie confronts Renton and Simon in the pub, knocking Simon out for protecting Renton. He then chases Renton throughout the pub, at one point trapping him inside a half-finished room where safe from Begbie for a moment, Renton reminds him of their first meeting in primary school, where he was made to sit next to Begbie. This only serves to fuel Begbie's anger, as he was older at the time, being forced to repeat a year. He bitterly berates Renton for being one of the clever ones who could get ahead in life whilst he had to take what he could with his fists and crashes into the room with a sledgehammer.

Renton finally escapes onto the roof, where Begbie throws him down into the half-finished ceiling below. Renton's throat gets caught on a wire, hanging him. Begbie bear-hugs Renton, trying to make him strangle to death. However, Simon runs to Renton's rescue, covering Begbie with pepper spray. Begbie, by now all but insane, prepares to shoot them both with a shotgun, but Spud knocks Begbie unconscious with a toilet bowl. Afterward, they lock him (unconscious) in the boot of a car and park it outside HMP Edinburgh, the prison he broke out of previously, awaiting for the police to find him and send back to prison.

Personality

Begbie was a violence-addicted, sadistic and brutal maniac who loved nothing more than causing commotion and hurting people for no aparent reason. On top of this he was an extremely wrathful individual and would often times brutally beat and even stab someone who he deemed as either insulting him or annoying him. Begbie was also eager to impress those around him and often twisted the truth about certain stories to make himself seem grander and tougher. He was also a fairly pretentious man who looked down on his friends for their drug addiction ans saw himself as superior for not putting heroin in his body.

Begbie did have a soft side however; his family. Begbie didn't view his dad with much respect as he was an old drunk who barely even saw him and decided that the last thing he wanted to do before getting vengeance on Renton was make amends with his estranged son and wife.

Appearance

In his prime Begbie was a tall, handsome, lean man with long slicked black dark brown hair and a full thick mustache. Often times Begbie preffered to wear jumpers of geometric design above other clothes and often wore simple trousers and shoes alongside these. On special occasions and on the heroin deal Begbie wore a grey suit with a pink shirt and black tie.

As he got older and after spending twenty years in jail Begbie became significantly more muscular and had a more threatening and imposing look. His hair was greying and much shorter than it was in his youth however his moustache remained the same, his face also looked far more hardened and tired than it once had and he had a few missing teeth. Throughout his time in jail Begbie was forced to wear a green prisoner's uniform but after escaping he stole a doctor's clothes as a disguise before taking several items from his own home to wear; including a black jumper with geometric patterns in the middle, a black bomber jacket, greyish black jeans and black shoes. He also wore a sunhat and shades to disguise himself when out in public after his escape.

Quotes

Picture the scene: The other f**king week there, down the f**kin' Volley with Tommy, playing pool. I'm playing like Paul-F**king'-Newman by the way. Givin' the boy here the tannin' of a lifetime. So it comes to the, down to the last shot, the deciding ball of the whole tournament. I'm on the black and he's sittin' in the corner looking all f**king biscuit-arsed. When this hard c**t comes in. Obviously f**kin' fancies himself, like. Starts staring at me. Lookin' at me, right f**kin' at me, as if to say, "Come ahead, square go." You ken me, I'm not the type of c**t that goes looking for' bother, like, but at the end of the day I'm the c--t with a pool cue and he can get the fat end in his puss any time he f**king wanted like. So I squares up, casual like. What does the hard c--t do? Or the so-called hard c**t? Sh**s it. Puts down his drink, turns, and gets the f**k out of there. And after that, well, the game was mine.
~ Begbie bragging about his version of a game of pool story.
Begbie: Nobody movie! That lassie got glassed, and no c**t leaves here till we find out what c**t did it!
Man in the pub: Who the f**k are you?!
Begbie: Yeeeeeesss!!
~ Begbie before breaking out a fight in the pub.
F**king listen to me you piece of junkie s**t. A joke's a f**king joke, you mention that again I'll cut you up!
~ Begbie threatening Renton.
Begbie: You bring the cards?
Sick Boy: What?
Begbie: The cards, the last thing I told you was to mind the cards.
Sick Boy: Well I've no brought them.
Begbie: Get's f**king boring after a while without the cards.
Sick Boy: Well I'm sorry.
Begbie: F**king late like.
Sick: Why didn't you bring them?
Begbie: Cause I f**king told you to bring them ya doss c**t!
~ Begbie losing his temper after Sick Boy forgot to bring cards onto the coach.
WHO'S THE F**ING SMART C**T NOW?!
~ Begbie's final words during his villainous breakdown in T2 before being knocked out.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Trainspotting's director Danny Boyle originally wanted Christopher Eccleston to play Begbie. However Eccleston was unable to take the role as he was filming the series Our Friends in the North.

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