As British icons go, James “007” Bond and Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards couldn’t be further apart if they tried. The former is a super-suave super-spy, all Omega watches, deadly quips and lady-friendly moves. The latter is a hopeless but loveable, eternally last-placed ski jumper with milk-bottle glasses and all the killer instinct of a goldfish.
And yet… In British actor Taron Egerton, have they found a common denominator?
This month, the 27-year-old will hit screens as Edwards, in director Dexter Fletcher’s charming Sundance favourite Eddie The Eagle, which details his equally uplifting and unlikely real-life quest to become the first-ever British ski jumping competitor, at the 1988 Winter Olympics.
It’s a lovely story, albeit one with a little movie-massaging – here, Edwards’ trainer looks remarkably like Hugh Jackman – that Egerton brings pathos to without ever over-egging it. His is a charming performance, but hardly one to inspire pin-up status.
It’s also, frankly, a fairly natural career trajectory for an actor whose biggest gig just three years back was a bit-part on ITV’s Inspector Lewis.
Thing is, Egerton isn’t on a natural career trajectory. He’s about to go nuclear. At the time of writing, he is rumoured to be in the final three to play the young Han Solo, in Phil Lord and Christopher Miller’s (the directors of The Lego Movie) Star Wars anthology movie, which will hit in three Christmas’ time.
What’s guaranteed is that Egerton will soon be tackling another legendary character in another huge blockbuster, with 2017’s Robin Hood: Origins, where he will play the title role. And then there’s the small matter of reteaming with director Matthew Vaughn for the sequel to the movie that put him on the map: 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service.
And that’s where Bond comes in. Three years ago, we were on that set, watching the climax. “Pretty uncanny, isn’t it?” whispered Vaughn as we watched Egerton in action. “How well he carries that whole Bond thing off?”
Certainly, the sequence was hardly doing Egerton a 007 disservice – he was, after all, fighting an evil lady with blades for feet, in a megalomaniac’s secret lair no less – but, even so, the way he carried himself… the sideways, mid-fight almost-wink to camera… the way his suit just fitted.
We don’t know much, but we do know this. With Daniel Craig almost certain to hang up the Walther PPK, and his replacement (Idris Elba? Damien Lewis?) likely to be on a three to four movie contract, on an average three-year turnaround between instalments, Egerton will be 39 when the situation next becomes vacant. Craig was 38.
“You do the math,” said Vaughn with a grin.