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Screenwriter: Hugh Jackman won't play Lake Placid's Chuck Berghorn, exactly

February 13, 2015
By MATTHEW TURNER (mturner@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - The media got it wrong. Hollywood star Hugh Jackman will play a fictional ski jumping coach, not Lake Placid's Chuck Berghorn, in a film about the life of Olympic ski jumper Michael "Eddie the Eagle" Edwards.

The movie, titled "Eddie the Eagle," won't be filmed in Lake Placid, where Berghorn and others first taught Edwards how to ski jump in the 1980s.

Filming of the movie is expected to begin next month in Germany. British actor Taron Egerton was cast to portray Edwards, Britain's first-ever ski jumper, during the run-up to the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. According to several news reports, including England's Daily Mail, Jackman was cast to play Berghorn. But that was wrong, according to the film's screenwriter, who reached out to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise this week.

Article Photos

Chuck Berghorn smiles at the 1980 Winter Olympics in his hometown of Lake Placid.
(Photo provided)

Screenwriter Sean Macaulay said Jackman will play a fictional U.S. ski jumping coach inspired by some of the U.S. coaches who taught Edwards. Macaulay said the false information about Berghorn, 65, was assumed incorrectly by Daily Mail gossip columnist Baz Bamigboye, who broke the news about the casting, and then it spread throughout the Internet. The information was shared by many media organizations, including the Enterprise.

"Jackman is indeed playing a coach," Macaulay said, "but he's a fictional character called Bronson Peary."

Two Lake Placid coaches were known to have trained Edwards while he was here: Berghorn and John Viscome. The film, however, will focus on the training Edwards received while in Europe before the Olympics, although in real life no U.S. coach trained Edwards in Europe, Macaulay said.

Berghorn, who was shocked when he first heard Jackman would play him in a film, said he was relieved the coach would be a fictional character.

"I was worried if they were going to use my name," Berghorn said.

He wasn't upset, either.

"It's no big deal one way or the other," Berghorn said. "It just doesn't matter. Yeah, I would've liked to have had my name up in lights, more or less, but if I don't, I don't. That will just be the way the ball bounces."

Edwards went on to become one of the most famous athletes of the 1988 Winter Olympics, although he came in last during both ski jumping events. In Britain, he is seen as an everyman who fearlessly pursued his dreams.

"He was a national hero," Macaulay said. "Even now, he can turn up to cut a ribbon and give a motivational speech, and he is a rock star. He is like your mad uncle, a part of the family. They love him."

Macaulay, a British-born screenwriter and journalist who lives in Los Angeles, described the movie as a humorous biography that will show how Edwards failed with style. "Cool Runnings," a 1993 film about a group of underdog Jamaican Olympic bobsledders, was "definitely an inspiration" for "Eddie the Eagle," he said.

"It's definitely not downbeat, kitchen-sink realism," he said. "It's not silly, throwaway comedy. It's true to the spirit of his adventure."

Macaulay described Jackman's character as "a hard-nosed purist about skiing" and "a former golden-boy skier and a burnout" who sees Edwards' attempt as "his way back to redemption."

Berghorn said he will definitely watch the film and is curious to see Jackman play the role of coach.

Fellow Lake Placid resident Jay Rand, a 1968 Olympic ski jumper and longtime friend of Berghorn, said the turn of events isn't so unfortunate.

"On the bright side," Rand said, "everybody knows who Chuck is now."

 
 

 

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