When asked about the themes of T2, his long-awaited sequel to Trainspotting, director Danny Boyle says: "It's about how disappointing men are."

Jonny Lee Miller - who played Sick Boy, the cult Trainspotting character who turned a peroxide-mopped miscreant into an emblem of Cool Britannia - agrees.

"I think so many men have this really sharp feeling of being a disappointment in their mid-40s," he says. "There's probably something chemical about it - the drop of testosterone, the fact that you don't feel the same way physically. It's a real thing. You do tend to feel like a disappointment."

I'm surprised by Miller's strength of feeling. The grammar school-educated son of theatre actors Anna Lee and Alan Miller from Kingston-upon-Thames seems to have done pretty well for himself. Thanks to his hit CBS TV series Elementary, now in its fifth season, he has a huge fan base in New York, where he's been living for 10 years with his wife, American actress Michele Hicks, and 6-year-old son Buster.

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When I ask whether he's ready to be plunged back into the post-Trainspotting celebrity he must have experienced 20 years ago, he looks at me blankly. "Well, I left London to be with Angie [Angelina Jolie] in LA [that year]," he says. "So that took me away from all the hoo-hah around Trainspotting. But, anyway, I won't go into that."

"That" is presumably the Miller-Jolie marriage, about which little is known, aside from the fact that they met on the set of the 1995 film Hackers, and that for their wedding the following March, Jolie wore a white shirt of Miller's with his name scrawled on it in blood - 18 months later, they were divorced.

Wasn't the hoo-hah surrounding their relationship just as big a deal? "Well, there wasn't one, because we were both completely unknown. Angie wasn't ... it was pre- all that."

So they were able to have a normal relationship without the pressures she's faced since? "Oh, yes," Miller replies.

Does he keep in touch with her? "Yeah - we're still friends," he nods, and before I'm able to ask whether he's spoken to the actress since the breakdown of her third marriage, to Brad Pitt, he throws me a small smile that says: "That's all you're getting."

In T2, Miller's character now prefers to be known as Simon, and is running a pub, alongside various scams. He has aspirations (to open a brothel) but, 20 years on, "his maturity level is sort of stuck".

Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) and Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) in T2.
Simon (Jonny Lee Miller) and Mark Renton (Ewan McGregor) in T2.

Miller says: "People thought Sick Boy was so cool in the first film, and I really wanted to get away from that."

Which he does. One of the most poignant scenes in T2 shows Simon touching up his roots with a toothbrush, "because we wanted it to be clear that he was trying hard - only it's not quite working any more".

And although none of the film's four lead characters - Renton (Ewan McGregor), Begbie (Robert Carlyle) and Spud (Ewan Bremner) - are thriving, Miller agrees that Simon is the saddest of them all.

"Really, the only winners in the film are women," he points out. "And that's intentional."

The movie itself may not quite hold itself up on its own merits, but as a nostalgia-fest in which you are, as Simon tells Renton in the film, "a tourist in your own youth", it's a charm.

The acting is superb and the cinematography slick, but some of the drug-taking montages have prompted the same questions Trainspotting did about whether the films glamorise drugs.

"Danny [Boyle] is obsessed with the truth, and I do think the bottom line is that if you're trying to be truthful, then you're going to be okay. So if you're running around saying 'Isn't heroin cool?' and just showing people having a great time on drugs, then yes, I think it would be irresponsible - and also not truthful.

"But, as with the first film, we were confident in our attitude towards it, which wasn't reckless. You're trying to show the attraction people felt to drugs and the buzz they got from them, as well as the consequences - and the devastation."