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. We talked to Jackman about how Eddie, a determined but unskilled ski jumper, made it to the Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988.
Why did you decide to do this film?
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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.’
Ski jumping does look very risky.
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?
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.