In Netflix's new series The Eddy, André Holland plays a retired jazz musician struggling to keep his Parisian club open and raise his teenage daughter. The musical drama is lovely from start to finish, an ode to jazz that even those who aren't familiar with the genre will enjoy, but its leading man is undoubtedly the best part of the entire project.
Since his screen debut in 2006, Holland has been steadily building a reputation for stealing the scene with quiet but impactful performances. The Alabama native started his career after graduating from New York University, like many of his future peers, with a small part of Law & Order in 2006. He continued acting but soon turned to the theater world, starring in a number of stage plays.
Holland's role in the NBC comedy Friends with Benefits could technically be considered his big break, but his run on the short-lived sitcom was eclipsed by the massive projects that followed, 42 (2012) and Selma (2013). The films told the stories of Black icons Jackie Robinson and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and their respective ensemble casts were canon-balled into the spotlight.
But it was undoubtedly Moonlight, the 2014 coming-of-age drama written and directed by Barry Jenkins, that made Holland a household name. He played across newcomer's Trevante Rhodes' Chiron as his childhood crush Kevin, and the tender love story that played out onscreen both broke us while simultaneously giving us renewed hope in love. The film famously beat out Academy favorite La La Land at the 2017 Oscars for Best Picture.
The Netflix project, ironically directed by La La Land's Damian Chazelle, allows Holland to come undone; his character Elliott Udo is a mess of passion, anger, and grief — emotions that Black men often aren't free to explore.
"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.”
For the actor, who revealed that he had been "working through some things" of his own, playing Elliott in The Eddy was a chance to explore hIs own complicated feelings. If Elliott's struggles feel authentic, it's because they are — Holland is just that good at blurring the line.
See it for yourself by streaming The Eddy, now available on Netflix.