Taron Egerton: 'I won't sex up Eddie the Eagle'

Rising star Taron Egerton's next major film role will see him play the hapless British skier. He would rather be an everyman than a Hollywood hero, he tells Jessica Barrett

Jessica Barrett
Wednesday 17 June 2015 21:11
Taron Egerton: 'The perception is your life changes overnight and you wear Dolce and Gabanna and drive a Mercedes'
Taron Egerton: 'The perception is your life changes overnight and you wear Dolce and Gabanna and drive a Mercedes'

When a Hollywood actor claims "I'm still so normal, I try to stay as grounded as possible", it's rarely true. Usually they say it as their helicopter waits in the back garden to take them to their personal shaman's vegan baby shower down the road. But with Taron Egerton it is true. Granted, he might not be at the Brad Pitt/George Clooney level just yet but, with one major movie already under his belt (Kingsman: The Secret Service), a starring role as Eddie the Eagle alongside Hugh Jackman and Christopher Walken on the way, and a part in the forthcoming Krays film Legend with Tom Hardy, Egerton is definitely on the fast track to stardom.

There are few 25-year-olds who would be less affected by it all than Egerton is. "I still live in Aberystwyth, where I was brought up and where my mum and stepdad still live," he says (his broad Welsh accent comes as a bit of a shock having seen him do "London chav" so convincingly in Kingsman, though he says that just means he's "done his job" well).

"I'm going to my sister's school sports day. There are some parts of my life that are wonderful and it's amazing to get to go to cool events and award shows and things like that, but I think the outside perception is that your life just changes overnight and you wear Dolce and Gabanna suits and drive a Mercedes. But life's just not like that. I've made these films and I'm really proud but my lifestyle hasn't changed."

Still, he wasn't on multi-million dollar film sets before his big break. And though he proudly admits he's only ever been to Los Angeles twice (adding, "and I've never been to Hollywood", perhaps not realising that they're sort of the same thing), he's just wrapped a three-month shoot for Eddie the Eagle in Germany. While physical preparations to play the Winter Olympics underdog were straightforward – "I didn't do any training at all," he says – it was a lengthy process to get the script to a place that he and producer Matthew Vaughn were happy with.

"One of the main things was to handle it very affectionately," he says. "There were some previous incarnations of the script where Eddie's character was slightly made fun of and that wasn't something I wanted to do. I wanted to do something that was as sympathetic as possible. It's an "inspired-by" story rather than a biopic. It's a sports buddy-comedy, I guess. It's me and Hugh Jackman trying to make each other laugh. We had a lot of fun along the way.

"When Matthew first approached me to do it, I didn't want it to be a sort of sexed-up Eddie the Eagle. The thing about him was that he was a sort of everyman, so I'm not so muscled-up in this film. It was a great chance to do something different with a character who was not quite as 'Hollywood'."

Taron Egerton, on set in Germany, taking to the slopes as glorious Olympic failure Eddie the Eagle (Rex)

Egerton's turn in Kingsman, which was directed by Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch producer Vaughn and written by Jane Goldman (Mrs Jonathan Ross), prompted the Hollywood bible Variety to comment: "A star is born." Egerton bats off that accolade with a bashful laugh. "You read something like that and it's very complimentary," he says, "but the moment you start to believe stuff like that… It's one person's opinion on the other side of the globe. I'm very conscious of… I don't feel like a star."

He spent eight months working in Welsh high-street shop Peacocks after being turned away from four different drama schools in London when he was 18. "No disrespect to Peacocks or any of its employees but I didn't really enjoy it very much," Egerton says. "I applied to drama school when I was about 18 and didn't have any luck anywhere. They basically turned me away and said I had a bit of growing up to do. I went back to Aberystwyth and did my growing up by spending eight months working in Peacocks. I also went to Kenya and volunteered for a few months and then went back and auditioned again; Rada was one of the only ones that offered me a place."

Taron Egerton stars with Colin Firth in 'Kingsman'

After booking a couple of television programmes, including Sky drama The Big Smoke, Egerton answered an open call for the part of Eggsy, a London teen who is recruited to work alongside Colin Firth's Harry Hart as a secret agent. "I'd never done a big studio audition before with someone who was that well known," he says, adding that he and Vaughn have built up a close relationship over the past two years. "He's invested massively in me. He has placed me right at the heart of these two projects despite me having little to no profile – and there are millions and millions of pounds flying around in the production of these things. So I owe him massively."

Now, though, he's ready to take a breather in Aberystwyth and just be "normal" again for a bit. "I'm not going to do anything for the summer, is the honest truth. It will probably be September or October when I start work again but what that is, I can't say at the moment. I suppose I'm a little bit lazy. You always hear about Tom Cruise hopping from job to job to job but the stress that is involved with a shoot, I really feel like I've earned three months off by the time it's finished. If I was a 'job hopper', I wouldn't be able to watch my sister not do very well in the egg-and-spoon race. And that's kind of what life is about."

'Kingsman: The Secret Service' is out now on Digital HD and on Blu-ray and DVD; 'Legend' is released 11 September and 'Eddie the Eagle' next year

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments