A few months after the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards was asked at a press conference in Australia, in July 1988, why he thought he had become such a celebrity superstar: "It was not so much because I lost, but rather because I brought some color to the sport. I think I opened everybody's eyes as to how professional sport is nowadays. Then, all of a sudden I come along and show everybody what it should be - fun."
It now seems almost impossible for someone to replicate Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards' achievements. As detailed in the film, the standards required to qualify for the ski jump were almost immediately increased by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards never qualified for the event again.
Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards said to the British public broadcaster the BBC that the filmmakers had "done a very, very good job" on making this movie. Edwards also noted Taron Egerton performance playing him as "uncanny" stating Egerton "got my mannerisms and everything else just right."
In reality, the training and preparation time that Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards spent before the 1988 Winter Olympics was excruciatingly painful and difficult. Edwards has said: "I was sleeping in the car, in cow sheds, in a mental hospital. I was scraping food out of bins, and the whole time I'm thinking the next jump could very well by my last. I could kill myself. In some ways, the movie doesn't show how bad it really was."
One night, towards the end of 2014, Matthew Vaughn sat down to watch a film with his children. The film was Cool Runnings (1993), the comedy about the Jamaican bobsled team that defied all the odds to compete in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. "My kids were loving the film," said Vaughn, "and I started thinking, 'Why does nobody make movies like this anymore?' I wanted to make a movie that you could watch and just come out feeling inspired, and I wanted to do a film I could show my kids!" Perhaps spurred on by the remarkable coincidence that the Jamaican bobsledders and Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards competed at the same Olympics, Vaughn turned his thoughts towards making this movie.
Taron Egerton transformed himself for the role with the addition of a subtle wig, the trademark thick glasses, a little extra weight, a Cheltenham accent and, towards the movie's end, Eddie's iconic mustache. "But I also need to be really innocent," he said. "Hugh's bringing all the movie star pecs, and he's given me the room to be a bit eccentric."
The character of Bronson Peary, played by Hugh Jackman, was created especially for the film and did not exist in real life as the coach of Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards. "I rang Hugh up and sent him the script," said Producer Matthew Vaughn. "He remembered Eddie The Eagle. He told me he used to jump off the roof of his house in Australia and pretend it was a ski jump! Hugh loved the idea of doing this. He's never done anything like this before." Jackman has said he was indeed a huge Eddie the Eagle fan growing up, just another reminder of the huge impact Eddie's exploits had on the world at large. "Eddie was a legend who embodies that pure spirit of having a go, and he had a go at the most crazy, almost suicidal event in sport, the ski jump. I mean, I wanted to be in the Olympics as a kid. I just wasn't going to go this far!".
At the closing ceremony of the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, the President of the IOOC (International Olympic Organizing Committee), Frank King, actually referred to Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards by actually saying: "At these Games, some competitors have won gold, some have broken records, and some of you have even soared like an eagle".
After the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards later ran with the Winter Olympics Torch on January 7, 2010, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, during the flame's ceremonial circuit for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics in British Columbia, Canada.
Hugh Jackman loved working with screen legend Christopher Walken. "Honestly, no acting required!", Jackman laughed. "For one scene, the script says, 'the godfather of the sport walks into the room and everyone goes still'. That's pretty much what happened. It's Christopher Walken!, and he's the coolest, most relaxed guy from take one until the end of the shoot. It's all gold."
Around the time this movie debuted in theaters, Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards still did small ski jumps for charity. These are usually over cars, buses, or any structure, over which he is hired for people to see him jump.
The real-life Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards once famously said of his ski-jumping abilities: "Was I afraid of jumping? Of course I was. There was always a chance that my next jump would be my last. A big chance".
Hugh Jackman has said, "I had to do a scene where I sat on top of the jump, and I had a wire on to stop me from killing myself if I fell, and even then I was pretty freaked out! When you think that Eddie did that in the Olympics after doing hardly any jumps in his life, he had some serious courage."
According to The Daily Telegraph, "in 1990, the IOC (International Olympic Committee) implemented a new rule that to qualify athletes had to be in the top 50 or top 30 percent of competitors at world championships, known as the "Eddie the Eagle" rule, which ruled Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards out in 1992, 1994, and 1998. Because of his failure, he is one of a select group of athletes who became well-known for their lack of prowess, or their ability to lose with aplomb."
Hugh Jackman was drawn in by the chance to play Bronson Peary, a fictional character, who is a damaged, cynical soul, who was kicked out of the U.S. Winter Olympic team at the peak of his powers. His friendship with Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards enables a long-overdue healing process for Peary. "Eddie's dogged determination intrigues Bronson," said Jackman. "He likes this kid. He thinks he's flat out crazy, but he relates to him. They're both outsiders, they've both been shunned by the world, and it's a redemption tale for both of them. Through that growing friendship, Bronson starts to believe in himself again."
Prior to joining the British team as a ski race, Eddie was a ski instructor in the Italian resort of Colle di Tenda. In an interview with "The Guardian" he claimed he had plenty of practice jumping across pistes often "jumping at least 40 meters, possibly even 50".
Reportedly, Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards signed a contract consenting to the making of a movie about him 17 years prior to the picture's release in cinemas in 2016, and 11 years after the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympic Games.
Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards' exploits were solitary in real life. Largely shunned by the ski jumping community, he would either train himself or go through a string of short-lived coaches. However, for the movie, director Dexter Fletcher and producer Matthew Vaughn wanted to create a character to join Edwards through every step of his journey. "We needed someone we can relate to, a participant we can imagine ourselves to be," said Fletcher. "Our attitude towards Eddie would be that he's mad, but we're won over by his inspirational enthusiasm and approach."
To accurately depict Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards' training routine, and the big jumps he undertook at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, Dexter Fletcher, and Director of Photography George Richmond, had to find a way of doing it safely, and repeatedly. "There are 13 or more jumps in the film, and it's always the same action - a guy goes up somewhere steep, he jumps off and then he lands," noted Fletcher. "We had to find a lot of new ways to do that, and as soon as you get on a screen, everything becomes flat, and the height of something is reduced by 50 percent, at least."
Taron Egerton has said of this movie, and his central character role of Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards: "I wanted to do something that was the antithesis of an action hero, and show another side to myself."
To prepare for the role, Egerton did meet with the real-life Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, which helped inform his performance. "Eddie is a very reasonable and pleasant, affable chap," he said. "He has optimism, and he's focused. There are things about Eddie that are heroic."
One of the commentators makes a clear reference to the Jamaican Bobsled team from the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, which was famously portrayed in Cool Runnings (1993), and had starred the late John Candy.
At the 1988 Calgary Olympics, ski jumpers have their skis "v-style" (tips spread apart) while in the air. V-style ski jumping came to competition in the 1990s. At the Calgary Olympics, ski jumpers kept their skis parallel in the air.
Production solutions involved judicious use of CGI, helmet-cams to increase the feeling of speed as the skier speeds down the slope, and the construction of complex platforms in and around the 70 meter and 90 meter jumps. The latter allowed Dexter Fletcher, Cinematographer George Richmond, and Second Unit Director, the legendary Vic Armstrong, to devise shots where the camera would swoop and fly, and be able to depict the sheer speeds of a ski jumper as they leap into the unknown. "George and I got very creative," added Fletcher. "We found ways of coming up with fun angles, and ways to communicate how high and dangerous this is. It's about choosing the right people to help you bring it to the next level."
Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards was concerned that a version of this movie, starring Steve Coogan playing him, might be "too broad and mocking". He said: "These scripts I would read just emphasized the slapstick. It was like they were imagining this Alan Partridge sitcom. I said this isn't right, and so it all died a death."
According to an interview with Hugh Jackman by Steven Zeitchik published in the Los Angeles Times, "Jackman says before he signed on to Eddie the Eagle, he never took the athlete seriously, influenced by a phrase in his native Australia in which to 'Eddie the Eagle' something was to reach beyond one's grasp, as in, 'You're studying to become a brain surgeon? What are you, Eddie the Eagle?'. I assumed he was a prankster. Then I realized this was really his dream. I think some of the antics (Eddie) played heavily to the crowd and held memorable press conferences, were to cover a genuine fear of doing the jumps." The actor paused. "I don't blame him."
Young actor Taron Egerton learned how to ski for the role, in order to replicate the positions required for ski jumping, from the "INRUN" position (the first position a ski jumper adopts as they come down the slope) to the take-off move and the "TELEMARK", which allows the jumper to land with one foot in front of the other. "Well, I did about 15 hours!" he laughed. "I was quite nervous doing it. It's hardcore. You realize how dangerous it is when you're doing it. Be under no illusions, ski jumping is an incredibly dangerous sport. I won't be doing the 90 meter jump!" laughed Egerton. "You have to do it every day from the age of four just for it to be safe. It's why Eddie kept hurting himself." Hugh Jackman, no stranger to doing his own stunts, such as in the X-Men and Wolverine movies, was also daunted by the sheer difficulty of a 90 meter jump, which requires total focus and mastery of the human body just to take off, let alone land safely.
Coach Bronson Peary asks Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards who his favorite actress is, with Eddie answering "Bo Derek". When Peary then proceeds to compare ski jumping to making love to Bo Derek, you can hear Ravel's "Bolero" playing. This refers to 10 (1979) starring Bo Derek, in which her character desires to make love to the music of "Bolero".
Fifteen years or so earlier, Matthew Vaughn and his then directing partner, Guy Ritchie, had been sent an Eddie the Eagle screenplay with a view to turning it into a movie. That deal hadn't worked out, but something about it resonated with him. "I thought it was charming, and worth making. Loads of people had bought it since, but nothing had happened," Vaughn explained. "I tracked down the script, said I wanted to buy it, and three months later we were filming."
One problem the production faced on location in Austria and Germany was a lack of snow. "We were filming in spring and at the tail-end of a mild winter," said Dexter Fletcher. "There was one shot where Taron goes to the top of the 70 meter jump and looks down, and there was no snow! We had to bring some in from higher up the mountain in a truck, and spread it out around the slope."
Matthew Vaughn quickly assembled his dream team both in front of, and behind the camera. Deciding immediately that he didn't want to direct ("This is a whole new experience for me, making a family-friendly feel-good film!"), he turned to his old friend, Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher had starred in the first movie produced by Vaughn, Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (1998), and the two had remained in touch ever since, during which both had become directors. Fletcher's helming debut, Wild Bill (2011), in particular, caught Vaughn's eye. "I loved Wild Bill (2011)," said Vaughn. "Dexter's good at heart, and he's good at looking after people."
According to the Wikipedia webpage about the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, "one of the most popular athletes from the games was British ski jumper Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, who gained infamy by placing last in both the seventy and ninety meter events finishing 70 and 53 points behind his next closest competitor, respectively. Edwards' 'heroic failure' made him an instant celebrity. He went from earning 6,000 pounds per year, as a plasterer before the Games, to making 10,000 pounds per hour per appearance afterward. Left embarrassed by the spectacle he created, the International Ski Federation altered the rules following Calgary, to eliminate each nation's right to send at least one athlete and set minimum competition standards for future events. Regardless, the President of the Organizing Committee, Frank King, playfully saluted Edwards' unorthodox sporting legacy, which would also be commemorated with a 2016 feature film, Eddie the Eagle."
The coach characters in the two movies featuring the 1988 Winter Olympics, Cool Runnings (1993) and Eddie the Eagle, portrayed each by John Candy and Hugh Jackman respectively, are both fictional characters.
The real-life Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards once recorded a song which was sung in Finnish entitled "Mun nimeni on Eetu" ("My Name is Eetu") even though Edwards didn't speak a word of Finnish. The movie features a Finnish ski-jumping competitor character called Matti Nykänen (Edvin Endre) who is nick-named "The Flying Finn". Later, Edwards recorded yet another Finnish language song which was this time called "Eddien Siivellä" ("On Eddie's Wing"). Both of the tracks were written and composed by Finnishfolk and rock singer Irwin Goodman (aka Antti Yrjö Hammarberg).
The movie documents events at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, as did the earlier movie Cool Runnings (1993). Eddie the Eagle was released 23 years after Cool Runnings, which featured the famous Jamaican bobsled team. Both movies feature protagonists, who competed at the same Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988, and were not medal winners, but were struggling and ridiculed competitors, who showed great spirit and determination.
Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards was originally a downhill racer, who almost made the British Olympic team for the 1984 Sarajevo Winter Olympics in Yugoslavia, but ended up in qualifying for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics in ski-jumping. Eddie changed sports because training in downhill racing was too expensive. The other movie featuring the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics prior to this was Cool Runnings (1993), whose story was co-written by Michael Ritchie, who had directed the Robert Redford movie Downhill Racer (1969), and later the snow survivalist comedy The Survivors (1983).
The picture is multi-cultural, with it being an international co-production between three nations: the UK, the U.S., and Germany, while the film stars Welshman Taron Egerton, Australian Hugh Jackman, with American legend Christopher Walken appearing as well. The picture is set in England, but mostly in Canada, in Calgary, Alberta. The production also filmed in Austria and Germany.
About twenty seconds into the official trailer, two football shirts appear on a clothesline, a maroon one with the number 5, and a green one with the number 1. It's a reference to the 2012 Scottish Cup final, where Heart of Midlothian beat city rivals Hibernian 5-1.
Publicity for this picture categorically states that the movie is "inspired by true events". Two taglines for the film read, "inspired by a dream come true", and "the hysterical true life story of Britain's most famous ski jumper Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards and his journey to Olympic fame".
The full name of the town Garmisch, Germany, featured in the film, is Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the full spelling of the place is also featured in the movie. The city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1936. Eddie the Eagle debuted in theaters in 2016, which is the 80th Anniversary of the games that were hosted there.
At least two novelty competitors at the Olympic Games have had nick-names with letter "E" alliteration. Eric 'The Eel' Moussambani Malonga, of Equatorial Guinea, competed in the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympic Games. He finished the 100-meter swim dead last, with a time of 1:52, but captured media attention.
The picture had its World Premiere on January 26, 2016, at the Sundance Film Festival. This film fest is notable for being set amongst snow-capped mountains, showing a direct relevancy to the ski-jumping subject matter of the movie.
Taron Egerton put on 28lbs to play Eddie. He did this by eating ice cream and potato chips. Why he did it is a little unclear as the real Eddie wasn't particularly overweight in the time period the film is set in.
The movie's Action Unit Director, Vic Armstrong, has previously worked on such ice and snow bound pictures as Bear Island (1979), Die Another Day (2002), and The World Is Not Enough (1999). For Your Eyes Only (1981), which Armstrong did not work on, featured several winter sports, which included ski-jumping. Eddie the Eagle (2015) shot snow scenes in "Seefeld in Tirol" in the Austrian state of Tirol. Spectre (2015) had filmed in Tirol, Austria, the first Bond movie ever to do so. James Bond creator Ian Fleming spent some time during his early life in the Tirol. In 1927, Fleming was sent there by his mother to the town of Kitzbühel, in the Tirol.
The Eddie name Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, is a nickname version of the name Edward, with the similar "Edwards" being his surname or last name. Taron Egerton, who portrays Edwards, had recently played a character called "Edward 'Mad Teddy' Smith", in Legend (2015). Moreover, Egerton had played a character called Edward Brittain in Testament of Youth (2014). As such, Eddie the Eagle is the third production in which Egerton has had an Edward(s) character name.
The film features a CGI software reversed age archival photograph of the characters played by Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken. Similarly, a CGI software aged reversed archival photo of Daniel Craig and Christoph Waltz appeared in Spectre (2015). Both Waltz and Walken have played arch-villains in Bond Movies, Waltz in Spectre (2015), and Walken in A View to a Kill (1985), a Bond movie which featured a snow sequence at the start of the film. Craig has played James Bond in four movies at the time of the theatrical release of Eddie the Eagle, while Jackman was considered for the Bond role, which ultimately went to Craig. Also, similar CGI software was used in X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) to make Sir Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian McKellen appear twenty years younger. Hugh Jackman appeared in that movie in his iconic role as Wolverine.
In Adelaide, South Australia, one of the local Australian Rules football teams, the Adelaide Crows, were shown the movie in a special early private screening, prior to its release. The weekend after seeing the movie, player Eddie Betts, who has the same first name as Eddie 'The Eagle' Edwards, was integral to the team winning the game. The local newspaper, the Adelaide Advertiser reported on April 18, 2016, "it just had to be little Eddie Betts, the crowd darling of Adelaide Oval, to kick the two important goals to seal the match against ladder-leading Sydney. Fan favorite Eddie Betts conjured up his trademark magic from his pocket, but was also sighted in the midfield and occasionally cleared a ball from defense. He has never been in better form."
The street featured in the film, Stephenson Street in North West London, was also featured in The Ipcress File (1965). One of the house featured was used to shoot the music video of 'Our House' by Madness.
Dexter Fletcher, an actor before he became a director, has portrayed a character named Eddie in film and television at least twice. In Dead Cert (2010), he played Eddie Christian, while in Boon: Walking Off Air (1989), Fletcher portrayed Eddie Cotton.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
A key part of Bronson Peary's character arc, is his relationship with his former coach, Warren Sharp, who kicked Bronson off of the U.S. team all those years ago. Sharp remains a huge presence in Peary's life, particularly in a climactic scene, where the two meet for the first time in over a decade. But the character presented Dexter Fletcher and Matthew Vaughn with a casting challenge. "It had to be someone on a par with Hugh Jackman," said Fletcher. "That's Christopher Walken. When he came on set, it was just brilliant. What he does is so 'Walken', but it's powerful and moving, and means that Hugh's character is more three-dimensional as well."
During the film, mention is made in the background, via a tannoy announcement, of the Jamaican Bobsled team. The film Cool Runnings (1993) tells the story of the first Jamaican Bobsled team, that also entered the Winter Olympics at Calgary in 1988 and captured the public's affections. There are many similarities between the two films. Disgraced coach, underdogs not expected to achieve any recognition, and both based on true stories.
The film ends with an epilogue, which is a famous quotation from Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics. It states: "The most important thing in the Olympic Games, is not the winning, but the taking part. The important thing in life, is not the triumph, but the struggle."