The real Eddie the Eagle was initially worried that the film based on his 1988 Olympic bid could turn him into an “object of ridicule”.
Unlikely British Olympic ski jumper Michael “Eddie” Edwards is played by Taron Egerton in Eddie The Eagle, while Hugh Jackman stars as his reluctant, heavy-drinking fictional coach Bronson Peary.
Edwards soared to fame when he finished last at the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988. He attracted huge public support for his unorthodox approach and determination to succeed against all odds.
Appearing on the red carpet in London’s Leicester Square, Edwards pulled Egerton and Jackman in for a hug.
He told the Press Association: “I was worried that they would either turn me into some sort of superhero, or worse – an object of ridicule, a clown, a joke, but they’ve done a fantastic job.
“And they kept the heart, the essence and the spirit of the story just right. And I’m so proud of what they’ve done. I cry every time I see the film, it’s just brilliant.”
He added: ” I never thought, 28 years ago, that 28 years later they would be making a feature film about my life.”
Edwards, 52, also heaped praise on Egerton, 26 – even offering him skiing lessons.
“Taron plays me so well, he’s got my mannerisms, my accent, he looked just like me – with the moustache, the jaw, the glasses, the hair,” he said.
“I met him at Pinewood Studios about a month before filming and we sat down and had a chat about my life, and he wanted to get my accent and mannerisms. And I didn’t know whether he could ski or not. But he can ski a little bit, enough to make the film genuine.
“He did a great job – I’ll have to teach him to ski a bit better though.”
However, Egerton is not planning on taking up ski jumping any time soon, as the winter sport is famously dangerous.
“Not a chance. You’ve got to be crazy,” he said.
Jackman, 47, joked that he had already pursued a career as a ski jumper: “I’ve retired. I used to do a lot of it. It’s really dangerous, I’ve broken a lot of bones, I don’t like to talk about it.”
On playing the role of often-taciturn coach Bronson, he said: ” I loved the friendship in the middle of this, these two opposites who bring out the best in each other.
“But it’s a really good feelgood movie. I’ve got kids, I’m really thrilled to do a movie that I can take my kids to and that they love, and it’s got a great message that you don’t have to win to be a winner in life.”
Jackman has two children, Oscar and Ava.
Explaining the film’s appeal, he said: ” We’ve all felt like underdogs at some point, or are feeling like underdogs, in some area of our life at some point.
“Because if you take on anything challenging, there’s always a little bit of self-doubt: can I pull this off?
“And I think that’s why we love seeing these stories, to watch someone who did it, and also who did it with such fun and charisma and positivity.”