Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024
Tuesday June 18, 2024

Benedict Cumberbatch discusses the absurdity and depth of playing a monster in Netflix’s Eric



Benedict Cumberbatch reveals the challenges and emotional depths of portraying Vincent in Netflix’s 1980s-set thriller, Eric

Benedict Cumberbatch found himself in an unusual situation, running through New York in a 7-foot monster suit. This bizarre experience occurred while filming the new Netflix thriller series, Eric. “It was one of the most ludicrous things I’ve ever done – and I’ve done a few,” Cumberbatch told BBC News. “It was fun though – and painfully funny.”

Eric, set in 1980s New York, stars Cumberbatch as Vincent, a troubled father whose nine-year-old son, Edgar, goes missing on his way to school. Vincent, a charmless puppeteer and co-creator of the children’s TV show Good Day Sunshine, spirals into despair. His already unhappy marriage with Cassie, played by Gaby Hoffman, crumbles further as he becomes increasingly caustic and destructive.

Wracked with guilt and desperate to find Edgar, Vincent fixates on creating a real-life version of Eric, a monster his son imagined and drew. The puppeteer begins to hallucinate Eric, who appears next to him, wisecracking and poking holes in his ego. This dynamic adds a psychological depth to the story, penned by Oscar-winning writer Abi Morgan.

Morgan, known for The Iron Lady and The Split, delves into Vincent’s psyche, exploring themes of trauma and mental health. Cumberbatch explains that Eric represents Vincent’s “shadow self,” a concept developed by psychiatrist Carl Jung to describe hidden parts of the psyche. Vincent’s traumatic childhood, marked by emotional neglect and a loveless upbringing, manifests in his adult life, affecting both his family and career.

Hoffman, who portrays Cassie, reflects on the impact of Vincent’s upbringing. “When you’re not properly loved as a child, and not given the space to discover yourself, you struggle with that as life goes on,” she says. The series captures this struggle, showing Vincent’s pain and its ripple effects on those around him.

On set, Cumberbatch was impressed by Olly Taylor, who played Eric for much of the series. Acting alongside Taylor, Cumberbatch admired the life and character he brought to the monster. However, when Cumberbatch donned the 20kg suit himself, he found it both ludicrous and humbling. Navigating the suit required wearing goggles that showed camera feeds, making movement a challenge. Despite the difficulties, Cumberbatch felt a deep appreciation for Taylor’s dedication.

Morgan’s inspiration for Eric came from her theatrical upbringing and experiences as a nanny in 1980s New York. The show’s themes reflect the city’s complexities, tackling issues like addiction, family breakdown, mental illness, homophobia, racism, and the AIDS epidemic. Morgan emphasizes that these themes, though historical, remain relevant today.

Playing Detective Michael Ledroit, McKinley Belcher III confronts these issues head-on. Ledroit, a black gay police officer, faces numerous prejudices while searching for Edgar. Belcher, a black queer man himself, found the role daunting but necessary. He draws parallels between the 1980s and the present, highlighting ongoing struggles with acceptance and identity.

Another subplot involves the disappearance of Marlon, a black teenager whose case receives less attention than Edgar’s. This disparity introduces Cecile Rochelle, Marlon’s determined mother, played by Adepero Oduye. Cecile’s relentless pursuit of justice provides a guiding presence for Cassie, navigating the darkness of their shared experiences.

Morgan concludes that Eric’s message extends beyond personal parenting to societal influence. She views the show as a mirror reflecting both historical and contemporary issues. “It’s about being fearless and saying, ‘What does this say about our own times, as well as the period it’s set in?'”

Eric, a layered and poignant exploration of human complexity, premieres on Netflix on May 30.


Benedict Cumberbatch’s portrayal of Vincent in Eric highlights the actor’s versatility and commitment to complex characters. The series delves deep into psychological and societal issues, making it a significant piece of contemporary storytelling. Analyzing Eric from various perspectives reveals the multi-faceted nature of the show and its broader implications.

Politically, Eric addresses systemic issues such as racism and homophobia through characters like Detective Ledroit. The series portrays the struggles of marginalized groups in 1980s New York, drawing parallels to current social justice movements. This reflection on historical and ongoing discrimination provides a critical lens for viewers to consider contemporary political climates.

Sociologically, the series explores family dynamics and the impact of childhood trauma on adult behavior. Vincent’s destructive actions stem from his unresolved emotional issues, highlighting the importance of mental health support. Cassie’s insights into the effects of a loveless upbringing underscore the need for nurturing environments for children to thrive.

Economically, Eric touches on the disparities in media attention between missing children from different racial backgrounds. Marlon’s case, overshadowed by Edgar’s, illustrates the systemic biases that affect resource allocation and public interest. This economic lens emphasizes the importance of equitable treatment in all societal aspects, including media representation.

From a local perspective, the show paints a vivid picture of 1980s New York, capturing its vibrant yet tumultuous atmosphere. Morgan’s personal experiences add authenticity to the setting, resonating with those familiar with the city’s history. The depiction of New York as both a backdrop and a character in its own right enriches the narrative, grounding it in a specific cultural and historical context.

Gender perspectives in Eric reveal the complexities of male vulnerability and the societal pressures on men to suppress their emotions. Vincent’s journey reflects the damaging effects of toxic masculinity, challenging traditional gender norms. Cassie’s role further highlights the emotional labor women often undertake in their families, offering a nuanced view of gender dynamics.

Analyzing Eric through the lens of race and minority experiences emphasizes the intersectionality of the show’s themes. Characters like Ledroit and Marlon’s mother, Cecile, navigate multiple layers of discrimination, reflecting the compounded challenges faced by marginalized communities. This perspective reinforces the importance of inclusive storytelling that represents diverse experiences.

In conclusion, Eric’s rich narrative and complex characters provide ample material for in-depth analysis. The show’s exploration of political, sociological, economic, local, gender, and race perspectives offers viewers a comprehensive understanding of the issues it addresses. Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance, coupled with Abi Morgan’s insightful writing, makes Eric a compelling and thought-provoking series.


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