Underdog sports dramedy

Eddie The Eagle

is based on the true story of Michael "Eddie" Edwards who realised his dreams of becoming an Olympian, despite limited ability and financial resources.

Edwards' fearlessness and perseverance led him all the way to the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics, where he became the first ski-jumper ever to represent Great Britain.

Edwards is played by Taron Egerton, last seen in Kingsman, and the film also stars Hugh Jackman in the fictitious role of Eddie's coach, a disgraced former champ. It's not the only departure from Edwards' own life to make the movie the ski-jump answer to the bobsled tale of Cool Runnings. But Edwards doesn't seem to mind. Now 52, he says the movie is a nice footnote to his Calgary adventure.

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"To be named 'Eddie the Eagle' at those games at Calgary was really something and then to have a movie made about me ... " he says, shaking his head. "Who would have thought?"

Meeting Edwards at a Beverly Hills hotel, his fish-out-of-water demeanour is a refreshing change from actors in promotional mode.

Raised in a working class family in Gloucestershire, his Olympic ambitions began young.

"As a child, I was always getting into risky and dangerous situations with the potential to hurt myself but my parents never stopped me doing what I wanted to do. They assumed I'd eventually learn from all the times I hurt myself and that I'd grow out of it. But I just got worse," he laughs. "And when I started skiing I had some pretty bad accidents. I broke my neck, broke my back, broke some fingers and thumbs. Then when I started ski-jumping they just went, 'Oh my God, what's he going to do now?'

"But they never stopped me doing what I wanted to do and I am very, very grateful for that.

"I represented this little tiny David of a country against these Goliath nations of ski-jumping. People thought, 'Wow. This is what the Olympics should be about'.

"All the injuries and the fear, all the craziness I went through was worth it because I got there in the end."

Surprisingly, Edwards says there is little skill involved in his sport. "You just need courage. It helps if you're physically built the right way - tall and as light as you can possibly be - but if you practise, practise, practise and you've got a halfway decent coach, you can do it."

Edwards says Jackman represents an amalgamation of all his coaches, though the Australian star based his character on a real person - Ginger Baker, the infamously cantankerous drummer from the band Cream.

"Someone suggested seeing the movie, Beware of Ginger Baker, and I was like, 'That's my guy'. The sport is very rock 'n roll and my character was this guy who was good, but had a seriously bad attitude," he laughs. "And I just thought Ginger Baker was perfect for that."

Edwards spent time on the mountainside sets in Bavaria. Jackman was struck at how relaxed he was about the process. Or maybe he was just bored.

"I think for a guy who is used to the adrenaline rush of ski-jumping, on set it can be a little sort of hard going and slow.

Egerton does a remarkable job of playing Edwards, even if he didn't quite go where the Eagle dared.

"I learned to ski for the movie but I didn't ski-jump in the movie. I sat at the top of the ski jumps. I sat up there for hours and hours and hours," he says.

"Actually, I did go down the first 10m on a rope. Then they caught me in a net," he laughs. "That was the most terrifying thing I've ever done.

What: Eddie the Eagle starring Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman

When and where: Advance previews at cinemas Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Opens Thursday