In 'Eddie The Eagle,' The Struggle Is Very Real...
...and everybody knows what that's like. Sometimes, it just feels as if no matter how hard you try, or what obstacles you overcome, that dream just keeps slipping a little further away.
For Eddie Edwards, that dream was to be an Olympian. Since he was a small child with bad knees and a leg brace, all he ever wanted was to compete under those Olympic rings. He wanted a moment of glory in the greatest sporting competition in the world, and his journey to that moment caught the hearts of everyone watching in 1988.
Eddie the Eagle producer Matthew Vaughn's latest team-up with Kingsman: The Secret Service star Taron Egerton chronicles that incredible journey. Funny, bright, heartwarming and at times intensely upsetting, the film might be about the sport of ski jumping, but it's not a film just for sports fans. In fact, if you are expecting a movie all about competition and athleticism, you might well be the only person walking out of the theater disappointed. Eddie's story isn't about the ability to hurl himself off a snow-covered slide further than anyone else. It's about the ability to keep on believing, even when it seems like there is absolutely nothing left to believe in.
When Eddie was young, he wore a leg brace. His knees were damaged and he spent years in an ugly, Forrest Gump-style contraption. For most people, that would be enough to put them off sports for life — but not Eddie. He wasn't exactly athletic, either. While other children might have a natural talent for running or dancing or something, Eddie was clumsy. Despite his physical limitations, though, he wasn't about to give up.
Nor did he give up when his father told him that he simply wasn't good enough. He didn't give up when his family couldn't afford the kind of sports training that most Olympic athletes enjoy from a very young age. When he found a sport that he could actually succeed in (downhill skiing), he just kept on going, day after day, in whatever equipment they could manage to find.
Even when he actually managed to make the qualifiers for the British Olympic Downhill Ski team — when he should have been able to proudly hold his head up and grab onto his moment with both hands — the obstacles were only getting bigger. Without the kind of pedigree and breeding that the British Olympic Association wanted as its representatives, Eddie didn't make the team. He was told over and over again that he would simply never be an Olympian — not now, not ever. And even then, even when anyone would have forgiven him for giving up, he refused to. He set out to do whatever it took to keep hold of his dream, no matter what anybody else said.
Eddie, of course, did become an Olympian. A famous, beloved, amazing Olympian who outshone almost everyone else at the Games that year just by being himself. He simply kept going until he got there, one step at a time. He endured mockery, poverty, injury and the kind of training regime that would ruin a lesser man. He got his moment, and he did it on his terms.
Hugh Jackman stars in Eddie The Eagle as Bronson Peary, the gifted ski jumper who disgraced himself and was kicked off his Olympic team. Now a surly, alcoholic snowplow driver at the training grounds, he does all he can to convince Eddie to quit. Until Eddie does everything he can to convince Bronson to help.
Jackman himself knows the value of patience, hard work and faith. While many actors in the US start working in their childhood or teens (often doing bit parts, ads or even larger roles before they hit double digits), Jackman didn't even study drama until he was nearly finished with a BA in Communications. In his 20s, he completed a one-year course in acting, followed by his years at the Western Australian Academy Of Performing Arts. He graduated into several small TV and stage parts Down Under, but it seemed as though global fame would elude him.
At the age of 30 (young in the real world, but getting on in Hollywood years), Jackman managed to make it to London's West End for a stage performance of Oklahoma!. Some actors might have put aside their Hollywood dreams, but after years of training, working in film, TV and musical theater and paying his dues, Jackman was almost there.
In 1999, he was cast in a new comic book franchise — one that would completely change the landscape of cinema. Bryan Singer was making X-Men, and he wanted Jackman front and center as Wolverine. The X-Men movies were not only blockbusters, but they sparked a superhero renaissance. For Jackman, they made a relatively unknown actor one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Since then, he has appeared in nearly 50 other productions, has won a Golden Globe and been nominated for an Oscar. He was ranked 21 on Forbes' list of The World's Highest-Paid Actors in 2015, raking in a cool $23 million. There has even been a petition in Wolverine's hometown of Edmonton, Canada for a statue of Jackman (as Wolverine) to be erected. All of which happened because he just kept going until he got to where he needed to be.
Sometimes it seems that everybody and their cat wants to be a writer. Blogs, self-publishing and open platforms (like Moviepilot!) make it possible for everyone to have a shot at their dream.
As a child, I always wanted to write. The complete opposite to Eddie, I spent my days with my nose stuck in a book, dreaming of creating whole new worlds for other people to read. I wrote my first Choose Your Own Adventure book (remember those?) at seven, and my first full novel at 10 (it was terrible, but it was a novel). I wanted to write — but with the need for a "real job" impressed upon me, I chose to keep it as a hobby.
It was my love for writing that kept me going when I was working two jobs and attempting to write blogs and find my voice at 2 or 3 a.m. I honed my craft with free classes, lots of books, careful study and endless practice. My first published articles were in a local magazine, which paid me the grand total of absolutely nothing. After a while, a website site was willing to pay me actual money to write, and from there, another. I kept working other jobs, budgeting carefully, sleeping very little, and living on coffee and ramen. I freelanced for another year, writing all day and working at a bar at night, living the starving artist life for a little longer.
Now I may not be the keyboard equivalent of the star of a blockbuster franchise, but I'm getting there. I'm no longer trudging home from a bar at 4 a.m., only to get up again at 9 a.m. to write. I'm no longer living on 99c noodles or living paycheck to paycheck. I'm editing the novel that I have dreamed of penning since I was seven, and when someone asks what I do, I'm not an "aspiring" anything these days. Simply a writer. Not only have I got here from a starting point of unpaid passion posts, but I have further to go — and I won't stop putting one word in front of the other until I get my Eddie The Eagle moment. Probably not even then.
Hugh Jackman became one of the best-known, highest-earning actors in Hollywood, despite years of paying his dues in relative obscurity. Eddie Edwards became Eddie The Eagle, despite opposition from every direction, and near-insurmountable odds. I managed to reach the point where I get to wake up every day and know that I am living the career I have wanted for decades, and know that if I just keep going, I'll get even further.
Now it's time for your story. With perseverance, there's nothing to stop you reaching your Olympic moment, whatever that moment might be. And if you need a little extra boost to get you started, go watch Eddie The Eagle for a dose of inspiration and a reminder that it's not just the destination that matters, it's being willing to do the work to get there.