If you really set your mind on something, then you can achieve greatness. That was Olympic athlete Michael “Eddie” Edwards’ mindset, and his inspiring attitude, resilience and unwavering determination have now been turned into a film, Eddie the Eagle. Right here is everything you need to know about this feel-good flick.
1. Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards wasn’t your typical ski jumper
Edwards was Great Britain’s first ski jumper, who competed in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. But his story is much more interesting than that.
His career as a ski jumper began after he narrowly failed to qualify for the 1984 Olympics as a downhill skier. Because he was running out of money, he decided to make a tactical decision, thus, a ski jumper was born.
“I didn’t have much money, so thought I’d better find something cheaper to do. I went along to the ski jumps [in Lake Placid, where he had been training] and thought: that looks alright,” he said.
2. His financial situation was a huge stumbling block
Edwards’ lack of financial support made his journey that much harder. He had to do a variety of odd jobs, including babysitting and cutting grass, to keep his dreams alive. At one point his home was a Finnish mental health hospital, where he reportedly paid around $1.86 a night to stay. His worn, second-hand gear also presented a problem.
“When I started competing, I was so broke that I had to tie my helmet with a piece of string,” Edwards confessed to Smithsonian magazine. “On one jump the string snapped, and my helmet carried on farther than I did. I may have been the first ski jumper ever beaten by his gear.”
While he may not have been the most talented skier the world has ever witnessed (he finished dead last in the Winter Games), his determination earned him a huge amount of respect.
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3. There’s a star-studded cast
The comedic biopic is helmed by director Dexter Fletcher who already has multiple acting credits to his name and has previously directed Sunshine on Leith and Wild Bill.
The movie stars Taron Egerton (as Michael “Eddie” Edwards) and our very own Hugh Jackman as the fictional character Bronson Peary, Edwards’ trainer and disgraced former U.S. ski team star.
4. Hugh Jackman’s character doesn’t exist in real life
Yes, Hugh Jackman’s character doesn’t exist — real-life Eddie was reportedly trained in Lake Placid by two well-respected coaches: Chuck Berghorn and John Viscome — but we are particularly pleased that screenplay writers Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton chose to create Bronson Peary.
One, because who doesn’t love watching Jackman play an alcohol-swigging bad boy, who could have been a great athlete had his ego not gotten in the way, and two, because the character, although not inspired by any one coach in particular, is reportedly loosely inspired by the men responsible for Edwards’ training.
According to History vs. Hollywood, Macaulay told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that Jackman’s character was inspired by a few of the coaches who taught Edwards — so, while fictional, there is some sense of authenticity.
5. The film is already a great success
The film is already enjoying critical acclaim. It had a big opening week in the U.K. taking $3.9 million (around AUD $5.1 million) and according to Deadline it was the biggest opening of a British film since the James Bond movie, Spectre, last October — so we already know it’s worth watching.
6. It will make you dream big
Eddie the Eagle’s story will inspire and encourage you to reach for your dreams, and there are some really moving moments in the movie too, with lines like, “I know what it feels like to be written off,” “I can get you your moment but it’s going to hurt like hell,” and “You’ve got more spirit than any of those other jumpers out there.”
When you’ve been told you can’t so many times, you may start to believe it, but Eddie is proof that you should not.
Eddie the Eagle comes to cinemas in Australia on April 21, 2016.