Hugh Jackman loves a good underdog story. So when the chance came to play Bronson Peary, the fictional coach of real-life hero athlete Michael “Eddie the Eagle” Edwards (Taron Egerton) in the movie Eddie the Eagle, he snapped it up. On Wednesday night Jackman and Egerton walked the red carpet for the Miami Beach premiere of the movie, about how Eddie, a determined but unskilled ski jumper, made it to the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988.
We spoke to the duo at Juvia the following day.
Why did you decide to do this film?
HJ: It’s really an inspirational tale and something everyone can relate to. Spoiler alert: Eddie’s not exactly a world-class athlete but what he went through reminds me of some of the movies I loved growing up with, like Cool Runnings. Ones that sort of have great surprises in store. I think everyone harbors a dream. They may not say it out loud or tell you what it is when their guard is down. ‘What do you really want to do?’ Even when people were laughing at Eddie and telling him not to do this he said, ‘No. This is the only thing I love.’
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TE: What I liked about this movie is that there wasn’t an ounce of cynicism, the way comedies often work now. This kind of tugs at your heartstrings.
How did you prepare for the role, Taron?
TE: I was terrible at sports as a kid. Awful. They always shoved me into the goal. I had to learn how to ski to play Eddie which was a challenge in itself. But thankfully, no ski jumping. The guys who do this have a certain type of personality; it’s such a specialized sport. They don’t say, ‘Wow, this jump is so high.’ They say, ‘Wow!!! This jump is so high!’ Then they do it and land safely and laugh their heads off. They’re so cavalier and rock and roll. When you get up at about 90 meters and see what they do, you get a new respect for them.
Yes. Ski jumping does indeed look very risky.
HJ: 100 percent. I was scared to go out with these [professionals]. I even talked to one of the coaches. He said, ‘It all looks very graceful, but seriously, people die.’ It’s not really talked about. But one minute mistake is all it takes. In a sport like surfing you can build up, but with this, you just have to go.
What did the real Eddie the Eagle think of the movie?
TE: He cried. And not because he was upset. He loved it.
HJ: I think it was nerve wracking for him to watch his life unfold, but we really tapped into his spirit and showed he’s passionate, genuine and courageous. He does a lot of motivational speaking around Britain these days, with good reason.
What’s next for you guys?
HJ: I’d love to collaborate with Taron again. Honestly, this is as much fun as I’ve had on a movie, probably. We clicked immediately and laughed a lot, had a great crew. It was a blast.
TE: Yes, I’d love to work with Hugh again. But maybe next time as mortal rivals!