Inspired by a true story, Eddie the Eagle, which debuted at a secret screening at the Sundance Film Festival Tuesday night, is an uplifting underdog movie about Michael “Eddie” Edwards (Taron Egerton), an amateur ski-jumper who represented Great Britain at the 1988 Calgary Olympic Games.
Although Edwards came in last place, he became world-renowned for his daring effort. Jackman, 47, plays Eddie’s coach, Bronson Peary, a character created for the movie.
“This movie’s got such a great message, that you don’t have to win to be a winner,” Jackman told PEOPLE prior to the movie’s screening. “As a parent, it’s the kind of movie I love for my kids to be able to see and to take their friends to.”
He added, “You ask a lot of kids now who their heroes are, they’ll mention [Michael] Jordan, LeBron James or Steve Jobs. All these ridiculously successful people, but it’s that or bust. There’s no one who goes, ‘Oh, that fireman down the street’ or ‘My teacher.’ This is sort of like everyman is the hero.”
Eddie the Eagle‘s feel-good message is what drew Jackman, Egerton and director Dexter Fletcher to the Matthew Vaughn-produced project.
“It’s a great message to get out there. It’s also great fun and it makes you smile, and at this point in time in the world, I think there’s no greater thing we can give,” the Australian actor said.
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For Egerton, the movie also gave him an opportunity to explore a different kind of role. “It was a fantastic chance to play a real character part,” the Kingsman: The Secret Service star said.
“And, I was unemployed at the time,” Egerton joked.
Eddie the Eagle soars into theaters Feb. 26.