André Holland Talks ‘The Eddy’ and Why Playing Elliot Was Terrifying

Grief is one of those emotions that can cause you to lose focus, It can send you off-kilter, setting you in a daze until something comes along that jolts you out of it. Netflix’s new limited series The Eddy is a story about grief, reconnection, and restructured dreams.

Directed by La La Land’s Damien Chazelle, The Eddy follows Elliot Udo, portrayed by André Holland, a talented jazz pianist from New York stumbling through his life following the death of his son. Desperate for a big break in the Paris music scene, Elliot is struggling to hold on to his club, The Eddy amid his business partner Farid’s (Tahar Rahim) money mismanagement. Constantly at odds with his on-again-off-again girlfriend Maja (Joanna Kulig), who is also the club’s lead singer, things get even more chaotic for Elliot when his teenage daughter, Julie (Amandla Stenberg) comes to town.

In late 2019, Showbiz Cheat Sheet got the opportunity to visit Paris and the set of The Eddy. As the sun began to go down in a vibrant multicultural neighborhood where the series was shot, we sat down with Holland to chat about why playing Elliot scared him to death.

André Holland knew ‘The Eddy’ was going to be a challenge

“The character attracted me to the role,” the Moonlight actor revealed. “Elliot is dealing with profound grief. The loss of a child is something that I can’t even imagine. It also excited me to explore the relationship between Elliot and his daughter. I haven’t often seen a relationship with a Black father and a Black daughter on-screen. Also, my character speaks French in the show, which is something I’ve always wanted to learn as well. The Eddy provided me with the opportunity to challenge myself in a way that I hadn’t been challenged before. If I’m a little bit afraid of something, then I’m usually attracted to it, and I want see if I can learn from it.”

André Holland wanted to make sure ‘The Eddy’ was as authentic as possible

As a Black American man, making sure The Eddy displayed all of the nuances of Elliot’s humanity as an ex-pat living in France was also vital for Holland. “Frankly as a Black man, I feel this intense sense of responsibility to make sure that I’m representing my culture in the right way,” he reflected. “I just want to make sure that we tell that story in a really culturally specific way. Sometimes that has been very challenging, we’ve had to go back and forth a little bit to try to find that happy medium. Because our writer Jack Thorne is a British man, he’s very open to understanding and working to collaborate. However, there are certain things that we didn’t have a common language for. So, it’s challenging on the one hand, because it takes a lot of time, but Amandla and I, we were on the same page. I hope that the work that we did was enough that it feels authentic and real.”

After losing his son, getting divorced, and leaving New York for Paris, Elliot’s relationship with his 16-year-daughter is fraught, to say the least. In order to continue playing that up on camera, Holland revealed that he and Stenberg kept a distance from each other on set.

Amandla Stenberg and Andre Holland in The Eddy
Amandla Stenberg and Andre Holland in The Eddy | Lou Faulon/ Netflix

André Holland talks connected with Amandla Stenberg on ‘The Eddy’ set

“She’s very talented and can go as far as she wants to go,” the A Wrinkle In Time actor said of Stenberg. “The series is about him trying to reconnect with his own roots through his daughter. She’s in a place where she needs that cultural connection since she’s a product of a biracial relationship. So I think she’s been separated from her Blackness. I’m interested in that journey. I’ve learned a lot from Amandla and I hope she’ll say the same about me.” 

The Eddy begins streaming on Netflix March 8, 2020.