Netflix’s new series The Eddy takes viewers to a modern-day Paris, where the symphony of the city is juxtaposed with grit and crime. In the musical drama series, which premieres May 8, we’re introduced to Elliott Udo (André Holland), bandleader of The Eddy and co-owner of the jazz club named after the band, whose troubled 16-year-old daughter Julie (Amandla Stenberg) comes to live with him. Elliot’s life, we learn, is complex, and he’s survived many losses which he currently still grapples with now. His story feels so familiar, it makes us wonder if Elliot could be based on a real person.
However, The Eddy and all its characters (including Elliot) are a work of fiction. The idea behind The Eddy came from Grammy-winning songwriter Glen Ballard (he co-wrote and produced Alanis Morissette’s iconic ‘90s album Jagged Little Pill), who thought of the idea six years ago — back then, though, it was just a song. He lassoed in producer and director Alan Poul, La La Land director Damien Chazelle, and playwright Jack Thorne to create the narrative and its central character, Elliot.
Per an interview with Film Independent, the creators of the series decided on having Elliot lead the story because they wanted a black protagonist who is close to jazz culture. The rest of the characters apparently just came together through auditions.
Holland, who spoke to W Magazine about his role as Elliot, said that he felt a strong kinship with his character. "Elliott is a man who has lived his life in that same way, trying to always do the right thing and play the right music, and please the right people,” Holland continued. “But the thing he hasn’t taken the time to do is investigate himself in a real way, to deal with his own grief.” Holland admitted that he’s felt similarly years before when he was working through some of his own personal problems. He took a break after starring in Othello in Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in London in 2018 in order to do so.
Holland also shared that, like Elliot, he too yearns to learn more and show the world what he can give. “I’m still hungry and I still feel like I have a lot more to learn and a lot more to offer. I read this book not long ago, Heavy by Kiese Laymon. In it, he talks about how, often, black boys don’t get second chances. I felt that for Elliot. That’s what his trajectory was about, for me: earning that second chance and what he’s going to do once he gets it,” Holland continued to W.
Above all, what makes The Eddy feel so palpable and authentic is that the creators of the series wanted to take viewers to a very real Paris. Although Chazelle hired actors to carry out a story, he also utilises real-life jazz musicians as well as the unfiltered sounds the city as the film’s natural soundtrack. Chazelle tells Vogue, “What it became once we were on the ground in Paris was really just this minute-to-minute improvisation.” As in, you’re very much encouraged to feel like you’re experiencing the real thing: A multicultural, vibrant city that embraces its grime as well as its melody.
So it doesn't necessarily matter that your guide through that city isn't quite as real.