In late 2009 we learned that Rupert had received the script for “Eddie The Eagle”, and later, director Dena Lowery had confirmed Rupert’s involvement. In early 2010, we learned that Eddie himself was quite pleased with the casting! In fact, he described it as “excellent casting”. A lot of hype has surrounded the movie and Eddie himself. He’s been declared “lovable loser” and “the worst Olympic ski-jumper” just to name a few labels. But Eddie’s story is of intrigue and smiles, disappointments and laughter. He is more than a lovable loser or the worst Olympic ski-jumper. He is all heart, but he’s far from a loser.
In the late 1980s, Eddie had a dream, he wanted to go to the Olympics as a ski jumper. Unlike most of his competitors he had no formal training, no money, and no backing. All he simply had was a dream. This is the kind of story we as human beings thrive on because Eddie went out and accomplished what most of us only dare to dream. I’ve often said that I think Rupert can relate to Eddie in a lot of ways. He too had a dream. He wanted to be an actor and he wanted to be Ron Weasley. Like Eddie, Rupert took a shot, even willing to embarrass himself (a rap video dressed up as his drama teacher?!) to get the part. He got his chance, as did Eddie. The only difference? Eddie’s dream didn’t turn out as well as Rupert’s. We all know Rupert’s story – fame, popularity, a movie career. Eddie got shut out of the ’92 Winter Olympics by the British Olympic Committee who was afraid he was making a mockery out of them.
Eddie was born as Michael Edwards in Cheltenham, England. Eddie was actually an excellent downhill skier and narrowly missed out on being on the Great Britain Olympic team in 1984! He decided to improve his chances to make it to the 1988 Olympic Games by moving to Lake Placid, New York, USA to train but his funds began depleting and Eddie found it easier to switch to ski jumping which would also make it easier to enter the Olympics. Eddie began his training under Chuck Berghorn.
Unfortunately, Eddie had some shortcomings when it came to this switch. His weight came in at 181lbs which is more than 20lbs over what one of his competitors weighed. Eddie was also short-sighted and it required him to wear glasses all of the time. Because of this, his glasses would fog up while skiing. And lastly his financial situation as previously mentioned. Eddie was self-funded. Interestingly, to this day America and Canada teams still have trouble getting financial support, some 20 years later!
Later, Eddie ended up training in Finland after he was finally picked for the Olympics. As noted, Eddie suffered with financial woes and his trainer in Finland invited him to stay at the mental hospital where he worked. He also slept in car parks, corridors, and cowsheds. Eddie even admits to eating scraps of food he scavenged from the trash!
Because of no sponsorship, Eddie claims to have been 7,000 pounds in debt and was a one-man show: Coach, doctor, driver and baggage man. But he admits that because of becoming “Eddie the Eagle” he was able to pay off the debt in one day!
Eddie ended up looking like an “idiot” for so many reasons. Many of which I’ve already mentioned (like the fogging up glasses); but when he first came to Canada, for the whole world to see at the airport, his bag ripped open and all his belongings flew everywhere. To make matters worse, he ended up walking right into a glass wall!
But finally, he got to make his debut at the Olympics. Sadly, it didn’t end as well as he hoped of course. He came in last in the jump, but he did hold the record for British Ski jumping at the time. He was also the world number nine in amateur speed skiing (106.8mph) and the stunt jumping world record holder (10 cars/6 buses). From there, the British Ski Federation and the International Olympic Committee made sure that Eddie would never be able to compete again because, as I said, believing that he was making a mockery of the olympics and the ski jumping sport. The rule, which requires Olympic hopefuls to compete in international events and place in the top 30 percent or the top 50 competitors, whichever is the lesser, was dubbed the “Eddie the Eagle” rule. Eddie tried but failed to get into the 1992, 1994, and 1998 Olympics (despite having a five year 5 year sponsorship with Eagle Airlines, which was a small business charter company).
It’s obvious that Eddie is so much more than what some people might think. All the struggles he endured, all the heart he mustered, and yes he came in last, but he was no ‘lovable loser’ but a guy with a dream that didn’t turn into Olympic Gold but did turn into a fascinating story. I am eager to see Rupert playing this. The drama of sleeping in cowsheds and eating out of trash cans. Training hard and having so many shortcomings. And yes the comedy of your bag ripping and your glasses fogging up. And the eventual disappointment of not making it anywhere but last. And of course, the fact that he’ll be the star of the movie. He won’t be starring along side, but the star of it all!