Over a quarter of a century ago, a humble plasterer from Cheltenham named Michael Edwards became the first competitor to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping. With no money and no professional experience, his efforts at the 1988 Winter Games in Calgary were nothing short of extraordinary. Despite coming last, it was Eddie’s can-do attitude that won over the public’s hearts as he hurtled down the ski jump in a pair of hand-me-down boots. On his return from Calgary, Eddie now dubbed Eddie the Eagle’ wrote a book and there was talk of a movie deal, but the project melted away and Eddie sank back into obscurity. His success in 2014’s Splash! revealed a hint of better things to come, and this week finally sees the UK release of his long-awaited biopic, Eddie The Eagle. It’s all in there,’ he says of the plotline. I reckon it’s 60-70 per cent true.’

Starring Hugh Jackman as his coach, the role of Eddie is captured superbly by 26-year-old Taron Egerton. It was like looking in the mirror,’ recalls Eddie, now 52, after meeting the Welsh actor on set. Sadly, Eddie, who filed for voluntary bankruptcy in 1992, is unlikely to get rich on the movie’s proceeds. Having signed over the film rights for £180,000 18 years ago, it’s estimated he’ll only make £200,000 from the project. Recently divorced from his wife of 13 years, Samantha, Eddie is currently single and is devoted to the couple’s two daughters, Ottilie, 11, and Honey, nine. Here the colourful character chats to OK! about sleeping in cowsheds, hanging out with Hugh and how it felt being branded a flop

Were Taron and Hugh star-struck when they first met you?

Yeah! Hugh came running over and said: I want a selfie!’ I’ve met him a few times since, and we had dinner together in Beijing last week. He’s a really, really nice guy. Taron’s lovely, too. We spent an afternoon chatting over tea and biscuits because he wanted to pick up my accent and mannerisms.

Was it strange seeing Taron dressed as you?

It was very surreal. He looked just like I looked at 24. He had the jaw, the moustache, the glasses, the helmet, everything. It was like looking in the mirror!

How much input did you have in the film?

Lots initially, but nothing came of it until 15 months ago. My jaw hit the floor when I heard. I thought, wow, my film is finally being made after 17 years! When I first watched it, I was blown away. It made me cry.

You were branded a flop after the Calgary Olympics. Did that hurt your feelings?

People that know me know what I’m like, so I didn’t mind. It was just the biggest thrill to be written about, because I was hoping to get some sponsorship.

While training for the Olympics you were very short of cash. Did that make you more appreciative of money?

Absolutely. I didn’t know where my next meal was coming from. I slept in the car even when it was -25ËC, I slept in cowsheds, in a psychiatric hospital, and yeah, I scraped food out of bins. I did whatever I had to do in order to carry on ski jumping.

Are you working as a plasterer now?

Yes. If I’m not busy doing an after-dinner speech, then I’ll be busy plastering somebody’s ceiling. It keeps me fit and I enjoy it.

Tina Hobley said she might take legal action after getting injured on The Jump. What’s your opinion of that?

I’ve injured myself loads of times ski jumping. You’ve just got to get up, brush yourself down and carry on. I certainly wouldn’t go suing people.

What did your daughters make of the film?

They loved it. My eldest, Ottelie, says she’s got more street cred at school now that her dad’s life has been made into a movie!Here’s the new trailer for the Eddie the Eagle movie, based on a … Bestcelebritystyle



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