Eddie the Eagle Interview: My Feet Didn't Touch the Ground for Three Years
Eddie the Eagle has had a very interesting life indeed.
In 1988, he became the first ski jumper to represent Great Britain at the Calgary Olympics. He came last in the 70 and 90-metre events but in doing so (and in the spirit of the underdog) his results endeared him not only to his home nation but to people around the globe.
The then president of the Olympic Organising Committee, Frank King, also recognised Eddie’s efforts in the closing ceremony by saying “At these Games, some competitors have won gold, some have broken records, and some of you have even soared like an eagle”.
Almost overnight, Eddie became a household name and was much in demand - and, since then, he has remained in the public eye for nearly 30 years.
Speakers Corner has worked regularly with Eddie Edwards over the years and, with the recent release of the Eddie the Eagle film, we wanted to catch up with him in an interview. However, such is the life of filmmaking and promotion, Eddie has been travelling the globe with its main stars Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman promoting the film. He got back last week and we finally got hold of him to ask him about life after Calgary, fame and being the subject of a major film.
You’re famous for being the first competitor to represent Britain in Olympic ski jumping in 1988; did you ever imagine you would still be in the public eye nearly 30 years later?
No, I am extremely surprised at how busy I am. When the movie came out it was like Calgary all over again. So if I can ride this wave for another 30 years until I retire then that will be excellent.
What is the most abiding memory of the Calgary Winter Olympics?
The opening ceremony - when they lit the Olympic flame - was really good; the big hill at 120 metres; having 89.5 thousand people shouting my name; and then the closing ceremony with the Olympic president mentioning me in the closing speech. That was wonderful.
You became a household name very quickly; how did you deal with the fame afterwards?
My feet didn’t touch the ground really for about 3 years. I was travelling around the world opening shopping centres, golf courses and hotels. I was also doing loads of weird and wonderful television shows and meeting lots of interesting people from the media, politics, royalty, film stars and musicians. It eventually died down but I’ve always managed to be doing some kind of work. It just depends on things like the Winter Olympics , then things get busy again. Also, if I do a programme like Splash [the British television series that follows celebrities as they try to master the art of diving], I get a lot of work in again. It ebbs and flows, as it were.
And very much flowing at the moment, Eddie. So when did you first hear about the film: Eddie the Eagle?
I signed the deal to make the film 17 years ago. When the producer, Matthew Vaughn [Producer of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch and director of films: Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick-Ass, X-Men: First Class, and Kingsman: The Secret Service], bought the rights about 18 months to 2 years ago, he rang me to let me know and told me that they were going to start filming in 3 months’ time. That was fantastic, and now the film is out. They’ve done a brilliant job and I love the film.
Were you on hand during the filmmaking process, or did you let them get on with it?
I did all my work 17 years ago when I signed the deal. I sat with the scriptwriters when they put the initial screenplay together. I did, however, sit with the director Dexter Fletcher [before filming] for an afternoon to go through the key moments in my life. I then met with Taron Egerton [who plays Eddie in the film] as he wanted to get an idea of my accent and my mannerisms.
That was going to be our next question: have you met the other Eddie?
Yep, I’ve met him now a few times. After our initial meeting, I met with him again on set and I've just spent the last two months travelling the globe with both Taron and Hugh [Jackman] promoting the film.
What are Taron and Hugh like?
Yep, very nice. They’ve been lovely. Hugh is really, really nice, and Taron’s a great guy. It’s been great fun, not only being on set with them but also promoting the film. It’s been a fantastic two months and I’ve really enjoyed it.
What are you up to now?
Well, the main promotion for the film has just finished; I did my last one last week. There’s still a possibility that I may go to Japan or Australia. As a result of the film, I'm making more appearances and doing more speaking. I’m getting asked to do a lot of different things which is great. There’s a chance of doing more ‘celebrity’-based programming; a couple of documentaries; a new book; a theatre tour; and skiing as well. I’m hoping to get a lot of skiing in and do promotions around that.
Thanks, Eddie. We wish you all the best with that and really appreciate your time today answering our questions.
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