Eddie Edwards, aka Eddie the Eagle, is very nice. That’s to be expected: In 1988, at the age of 24, the southern Englishman became a sudden celebrity when he came in last in ski jumping at the Olympics in Calgary, Canada. It wasn’t that he lost that made him famous; it was his uncontainable enthusiasm when he finished a jump — and that he had only been ski jumping for 20 months.
“Everyone else had been jumping for 20 years! There was no way I was going to beat those people,” he tells us. “For me, getting to the Olympic games was my gold medal. I knew I was going to come in last.”
His inspirational and stranger-than-fiction tale is now, perhaps inevitably, a movie. “Eddie the Eagle” stars Taron Egerton (the boyish lead of “Kingsman,” here even more affably eccentric) as Edwards in a story he admits is heavily fictionalized. The surly coach played by Hugh Jackman: He’s an amalgamation. The injuries: They're real.
“It’s not factually correct. But then it wouldn’t be a movie; it would be a documentary. But what they’ve done is capture the heart and essence of my story,” he says. “I loved it. I needed a box of Kleenex after I watched it.”
Edwards chronicled his tall tale exploits in the 1999 book “On the Piste.” Since then he’s fielded movie offers; people like James McAvoy and Martin Freeman have at some point been considered to play him. He says he’s seen 16 scripts over the years, not all of them ideal.
“The worst ones were from Steve Coogan. They were just him doing Alan Partridge,” he admits, referring to the comic’s most famous character: an oblivious and venal entertainment personality. His version took a more savage take on the Edwards story. “Even the dialogue is what you’d expect Alan Partridge to say. I didn’t like that.”