New movie celebrates Brit Olympian Eddie Edwards
Eddie The Eagle, starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman, is an inspiring tale of the "never-say-die" spirit, and the real Eddie Edwards shares what it means to be an underdog
Eddie The Eagle is a true underdog story of someone who dares to chase his dreams through the power of determination, imagination and his indefatigable personality.
Eddie Edwards (played by Kingsman: The Secret Service's breakout star Taron Edgerton) is not one you'd associate with the word "athletic".
He was clumsy, accident-prone, and suffered from very poor eyesight. Yet nothing could stop him from pursuing his childhood dreams of becoming an Olympian.
He tried his hand at various sports, before settling on downhill skiing and becoming accomplished, thanks to perseverance, passion and intense training.
Disappointed when he narrowly failed to make the British Olympic team in 1984, Edwards decided instead to try the difficult and dangerous sport of ski jumping, planning to represent his country at the highest level.
What he lacked in skill he made up for in heart and determination. Displaying great tenacity, Edwards took on the British Olympic Committee and the Winter sports establishment, who effectively wrote him off.
He managed to train and scrape enough money together to travel around Europe, where he competed and improved his skills. Edwards was the sole British entrant at the 1987 World Championships, placing 55th. That meant he could go on to represent his country at the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada.
The fact that Edwards made it to the Olympics was a testament to his strength of character and sheer force of will.
His achievement also proved to people, that whatever their background or upbringing, they too could fulfill their dreams with hard work and perseverance. Edwards didn’t win a medal, but the fans took him to their hearts.
Eddie The Eagle is this incredible and uplifting tale that celebrates Edwards' perseverance and passion. Opening here Mar 31, the biopic also stars Hugh Jackman as Edwards' cynical (fictional) coach Bronson Peary.
Here the real Michael “Eddie” Edwards shares what it took to make it to the Olympics, what it means to be an underdog and what success is all about.
Did you always have a dream that you were going to do something out of the ordinary?
I always wanted to represent my country at the Olympic Games, but I didn’t know that it was going to be ski jumping. That is just how it turned out. Everything else that has happened on top of that has been a huge bonus.
I had no idea that I would have a movie made about my life, but I always hoped big things happen.
Michael "Eddie" Edwards with Taron Egerton on the set of Eddie The Eagle. PHOTO: TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX
When did you first hear Taron’s name in connection with playing you in the film?
The first time I heard that Taron Egerton was playing me was when (producer) Matthew Vaughn rang me. I didn’t get to see Kingsman: The Secret Service, which Matthew directed and Taron was in, because I was so busy doing other things. I went to Pinewood to meet Taron and we sat for an afternoon and had a chat. He picked up my accent and mannerisms and he was a very nice guy. When I met him out on set about two months later it was like looking in a mirror. It was amazing.
Was it weird to run into him on set – this version of you, nearly 30 years prior?
It was very, very strange. I arrived in (German ski resort) Garmisch and it was a lovely Spring day.
I walked on set and the first two people I saw were Taron and Hugh Jackman. I just couldn’t stop looking at Taron. The hair, the moustache, the glasses; he had me down to a tee and they’d done such a good job.
I still have a lot of my Olympic stuff, and the people from the wardrobe department came down to my house and I showed them photographs of the things I wore back then and they took all my stuff away and replicated it all. I saw it on set and thought it was incredible.
In the film, Eddie epitomizes a classic underdog. Would you describe yourself in those terms?
Oh yes, absolutely, I’ve always been an underdog and that is fine with me. It inspires me to try harder and do the best I can.
Being an underdog has never been a negative thing for me. I have done the best I could with what I have. I was very much an underdog because I was doing a sport that Britain had never done before. We have no ski jumps, no snow and no equipment and I was this tiny David against Goliath ski jumping nations who had everything in their favour.
Obviously you didn’t win at the Olympics, but you always seemed so excited and joyful. Did you feel successful?
Yes for me, getting to those Olympic Games was my gold medal, the fact that I got there against all the odds, despite so many people telling me that I would never do it. I managed to get there in the end and that was the loveliest and the greatest thing for me.
To go through all these experiences that I went through was worth every minute.